Tags: Trump Administration | Russia | robert gates | rex tillerson | putin relationship | okay

Robert Gates on Tillerson, Putin: 'Friendly Doesn't Make You Friends'

 Robert Gates (William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

By    |   Sunday, 18 Dec 2016 10:48 AM

President Barack Obama's first Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking on his endorsement of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, sees a relationship with world leaders, including Vladimir Putin, as nothing but "an asset," because "being friendly doesn't make you friends."

"Clearly the CEO of any US company that does business around the world is going to want to be on friendly relationships with the leaders and governments of those countries where they do business," the former CIA Director Gates told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. 

"But being friendly doesn't make you friends."

Tillerson's ties to Russia's Putin has concerned some for being too close, but Tillerson's experience making deals and an "in-depth knowledge of many countries" show he can help the U.S. restore its leadership position in the world, Gates told host Chuck Todd.

"This country for decades has had to make deals with countries you wouldn't want to bring home to meet mom," he added. "That's just the reality of the world.

". . . You don't have to negotiate very much with your friends. It's with your adversaries that you have to deal and figure out how to get along.

"So having someone who's got some experience along those lines seems to me to be an asset — more than somebody coming out of academia or a Wall Street law firm who may have never met any of these people and may not have a clue about how they do business."

Gates, who has been no supporter for Trump during the campaign, ridiculed the notion Tillerson's past dealings with Putin could be considered a true "friendship."

"In the course of doing business, you at least maintain pleasantries," he added. "You can't be at each other's throats 24-7.

". . . Mistaking a picture of somebody lifting a champagne glass or shaking hands with somebody, confusing that with being friends or being closely associated other than in a business sense, I think is a mistake.

"I think it's a false narrative."

Gates equated his own dealings with Russia during time as CIA director to Tillerson's relationship to Putin.

"After all, if you wanted to show pictures, I hoisted a glass of vodka more than one time with the head of the KGB, and it looked like it was friendly if you'd taken a photograph of it," Gates said. "But I can guarantee you, we weren't friends. We were adversaries."

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President Barack Obama's first Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking on his endorsement of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, sees a relationship with world leaders, including Vladimir Putin, as nothingbut an...
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2016-48-18
Sunday, 18 Dec 2016 10:48 AM
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