A Senate committee on Monday approved former Texas oil executive Rex Tillerson as the new US secretary of state.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 11-10 to approve Tillerson, with every Republican backing the former oil executive and every Democrat opposing him.

The oil tycoon spent 40 years at ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, but  has no formal foreign policy experience. He does have experience dealing at a business level with foreign countries, including Russia.

His close ties with Russia on behalf of the company raised concerns about his nomination as the Obama administration pushed for additional sanctions against Moscow over its alleged interference in the US presidential election.

The Republican majority Senate is expected to approve Tillerson’s confirmation.

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