REX Tillerson said he has never considered stepping down as US secretary of state.

America’s top diplomat said reports suggesting otherwise are “erroneous”.

Mr Tillerson delivered a statement after NBC News reported the former Exxon Mobil CEO had been on the verge of resigning this summer amid mounting policy disputes with the White House.

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NBC said the tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump gave a politicised speech in July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organisation Mr Tillerson once led.

NBC also said Mr Tillerson referred to Mr Trump as a “moron” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of the president’s national security team and Cabinet officials. NBC cited three anonymous officials familiar with the incident.

When asked if he called Mr Trump a moron, Mr Tillerson said: “We don’t deal with that kind of petty nonsense.”

However, he did not deny he had called his boss that name.

Mr Tillerson added: “I’m just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration.”

Mr Trump later tweeted that the story by NBC News “has just been totally refuted” by Mr Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence. He called it “#FakeNews” and said the network “should issue an apology to AMERICA!”

NBC News said it stood by its reporting.

Mr Tillerson characteristically betrayed little emotion, though sounded indignant as he responded to some questions.