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Rex Tillerson: Paris withdrawal critics should 'keep perspective'

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson answers a question from the media about the U.S. leaving the Paris climate agreement. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday defended President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, citing the United States record of slowing greenhouse gas emissions.

"I don't think we're going to change our ongoing efforts to reduce those emissions in the future either, so hopefully people can keep it in perspective," Tillerson said during brief remarks before a meeting with Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes.

Trump announced Thursday that the United States would exit the deal, which former President Barack Obama's team negotiated in his second term, and said the pact is "a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries." Tillerson, who reportedly opposed the move, did not attend the Rose Garden announcement.

Obama immediately criticized the decision. "[T]his administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future," the former president said.

Tillerson urged proponents of the Paris deal to remain calm. "I think it's important that everyone recognize the United States has a terrific record on reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "It's something I think we can be proud of and that was done in the absence of a Paris Agreement."