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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson holds a news conference during a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is planning a trip to Africa in the first three months of next year, a senior aide said on Wednesday, amid speculation how long Tillerson might stay in the job.

Earlier on Wednesday, Tillerson said there was no truth to reports that President Donald Trump intended to fire him and replace him with CIA chief Mike Pompeo.

Directly addressing the issue at a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tillerson dismissed the reports that overshadowed his week-long trip to Europe which highlighted the yearning of allies for stability in U.S. foreign policy.

"Secretary Tillerson is planning a trip to Africa in the first quarter of 2018," senior adviser R.C. Hammond told reporters at Germany's Ramstein Air Base.

Hammond spoke during a stopover en route to Vienna where Tillerson is due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday to discuss issues such as North Korea.

Tillerson has said there can be no normal U.S. relations with Russia until Moscow ends its support for separatists in Ukraine and returned the Crimea region it annexed in 2014 - comments likely to reassure Western allies.

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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