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Trump to appoint Exxon chief Tillerson as secretary of state: Report

Exxon Mobil chief Tillerson has close business relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Exxon Mobil chief Rex Tillerson (AFP)

US President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name the chief executive of Exxon Mobil as the country's top diplomat, NBC News reported on Saturday, citing two sources close to the transition process.

Exxon chief Rex Tillerson had emerged on Friday as Trump's leading candidate for US secretary of state and met with him on Saturday morning, a transition official told Reuters.

Tillerson, 64, became president of the Texas-based oil company in 2004 and has a close business relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, NBC said. He has spent his entire career at the company now known as Exxon Mobil.

The transition official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tillerson, 64, had moved ahead in Trump's deliberations over 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has met Trump twice, including at a dinner in New York.

As Exxon's CEO, Tillerson oversees operations in more than 50 countries, including Russia.

In 2011, Exxon Mobil signed a deal with Rosneft, Russia's largest state-owned oil company, for joint oil exploration and production. Since then, the companies have formed 10 joint ventures for projects in Russia.

Trump's campaign was not immediately able to confirm the selection.

The two sources cautioned NBC that nothing is final until the president-elect officially announces the appointment, likely next week.

Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton will be Tillerson's deputy secretary of state "for day-to-day management of the department," NBC News added, citing one unidentified source.

Other media outlets, including CBS News and the Wall Street Journal, describe Tillerson as the leading candidate for the job of top US diplomat.

According to the Journal, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, other candidates still being considered include Bolton, Romney and former CIA director David Petraeus.

The outspoken former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is no longer in the mix: Trump announced in a statement on Friday that Giuliani had removed himself from the running.

As secretary of state, Tillerson would be fourth in line to the presidency.

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