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Remarks at a Swearing-in Ceremony for Rex W. Tillerson as Secretary of State

February 01, 2017

Vice President Michael R. Pence. Welcome to the White House. Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.

The President. Thank you very much, Mike. I just returned from an amazing visit with a great, great family at Dover, and it was something very sad, very beautiful. Ryan, a great man.

Secretary Tillerson, I first want to congratulate you, Renda, and your entire family on this incredible honor, and it is that, an incredible honor. You bring the unique skills and deep, deep insights—and I've gotten to see it firsthand—into foreign diplomacy. Our Nation needs to foster stability and security in a world too often trapped—and right now it's trapped—in violence and in war.

You understand that the job of our diplomats and the mission of the State Department is to serve the interests of the United States of America to make our Nation safer, our country more prosperous, and our people much more secure. In that mission, you also understand the importance of strengthening our alliances and forming new alliances to enhance our strategic interests and the safety of our people.

Your whole life has prepared you for this moment. And you really have had a tremendous life, heading up one of the great companies of the world and doing it magnificently, absolutely magnificently. And I can say this is a man that's respected all over the world, before he even begins.

But as Renda said, now he's beginning his big, big, and most important journey. This is where you were meant to be, right here, today, at this crossroads in history. It's time to bring a clear-eyed focus to foreign affairs, to take a fresh look at the world around us, and to seek new solutions grounded in very ancient truths. These truths include the fact that nations have a right to protect their interests, that all people have a right to freely pursue their own destiny, and that all of us are better off when we act in concert and not in conflict. And there's rarely been conflict like we have in the world today. Very sad.

I am excited for you. I am excited for your family. And perhaps most importantly, I am excited for our great country. Though you inherit enormous challenges in the Middle East and around the world, I do believe we can achieve peace and stability in these very, very troubled times.

May God bless you in this journey. And may God bless our very, very special and great country. Thank you very much.

Mike, you can do the honors. Thank you.

[At this point, Secretary Tillerson was sworn in by Vice President Pence and then made brief remarks, as follows.]

Secretary Tillerson. Well, first, I want to express my profound thanks to President Trump for giving me this extraordinary opportunity to serve my country. I also want to thank Vice President Pence for giving me the honor of swearing me into this office today. I have a few folks in the room that are with me that have helped me over the last month to get to this point of confirmation. They represent a much larger cadre of people who have worked enormously long hours, tirelessly, helping me and guiding me through the confirmation process. And to them, I will always be eternally grateful for the sacrifice they've made of their time and effort this past weeks.

I've also received over the last month so many messages, letters, phone calls of best wishes, encouragement, prayers from family, friends, and colleagues who know me well. But I've also received an enormous outpouring of wonderful messages from people all over the country whom I do not know, words of encouragement and their prayers. And it's their messages that are going to really stand in steadfast reminder to me as I enter the responsibilities of Secretary of State, that as I serve this President, I serve their interest and will always represent the interest of all of the American people at all times.

And again, Mr. President, thank you for this extraordinary opportunity.

The President. He left a very good job for this, I want to tell you. [Laughter]

NOTE: The President spoke at 7:12 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens, USN, who was killed during a U.S. counterterrorism raid on a suspected Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist organization site in al-Bayda Province, Yemen, on January 28; and Renda St. Clair Tillerson, wife of Secretary Tillerson.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks at a Swearing-in Ceremony for Rex W. Tillerson as Secretary of State Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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