Donald Trump planning to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

American media said there was a plan to replace Mr Tillerson with CIA chief Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson poses with Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel(not shown) ahead of a bilateral at the State Department in Washington, DC on November 30, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN

The White House has a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA chief Mike Pompeo within weeks, American media reported on Thursday.

The New York Times quoted unnamed senior administration officials as saying Mr Trump had soured on Mr Tillerson and was ready for a change at the State Department, probably around the end of the year.

The two men have aired striking differences in public. Mr Trump surprised many observers when he tweeted that Tillerson was "wasting his time" pursuing contacts with North Korea, and Mr Tillerson was quoted as having said -- though he denied it -- that the president was a "moron."

The former ExxonMobil executive has also defended the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump last month disavowed.

It was not clear Thursday whether the president had given final approval to the reported cabinet changes. The White House did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.

Under the plan, which the paper said was developed by White House chief of staff John Kelly, Pompeo would be replaced at the CIA by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and an important Trump ally on national security issues.

That could leave Republicans with another seat to defend in the 2018 elections.


Read more: Tillerson's state department future in doubt as speculation over successor grows