State Department news briefings to resume in early March

State Department news briefings to resume in early March

February 24th, 2017 by Associated Press in National Political

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, following a meeting with Mexico's Foreign Secretary Videgaray. (Carlos Barria/Pool Photo via AP)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department resume regular news briefings early next month after facing criticism for not having held one since the Trump inauguration.

The department said Friday it would begin hosting the briefings the first full week in March. The last briefing was on Jan. 19, the last full day of President Barack Obama's time in office. The hiatus from regular briefings is believed to be the longest since the department began holding news briefings in the 1950s.

Officials have remained available to answer journalists' questions despite the lack of televised briefings. But the briefings are watched closely by foreign governments, and some current and former diplomats have expressed concern that their absence was allowing other countries to drive foreign policy debates.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has not yet named a spokesperson for the department. Acting spokesman Mark Toner, a career diplomat who was deputy spokesman in the final years of the Obama administration, is expected to handle the first briefings.