Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agrees that his department needs budget cuts

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday, kicking off his first Asian trip that will also take him to the Republic of Korea and China. The department had previously told reporters covering Tillerson's trip to South Korea, Japan, and China that he would not be taking reporters on his plane and that they would have to fly commercially, breaking with decades of precedent stretching back to Henry Kissinger.

The White House is proposing a combined $25.6 billion budget for the State Department and USAID, a 28 percent reduction from current spending.

He said the department's budget a year ago was "historically high", in part because of conflicts around the globe where USA spending, in addition to military money, includes humanitarian aid and so-called "nation-building" assistance, as well as disaster relief in other parts of the world.

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"We've been very clear, frankly, that this is a smaller footprint all around, and this is the secretary's decision, to travel with a smaller footprint", he said. A constructive working relationship is preferable, but if Tillerson chooses to make it hard, the added difficulty in reporting will come at a cost - not to the press that Trump has so vilified, but to the public interest.

Reporters, however suggested the State Department was seeking "a friendly audience" to cover Tillerson's trip focused on resolving a potential crisis on the Korean peninsula, the Examiner reported.

The State Department Correspondents Association said it was "disappointed" by the change in procedure. He was rarely expected to answer media queries and never had to travel with reporters.

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"We expect that the diplomatic press corps will be afforded access to Secretary Tillerson equal to that given to the reporter on the plane", the correspondents association said in its statement.

"We don't take this opportunity lightly and recognize the controversy surrounding press access for the trip", IJR founder and chief executive Alex Skatell said in a statement.

The association was responding to the revelation Tuesday that Mr. Tillerson had chosen to be accompanied by a White House correspondent from the Independent Journal Review (IJR), a digital news outlet founded in 2012 by former Republican political operatives, according to Reuters.

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