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North Korea Says Ready To Strike U.S. Aircraft Carrier |The Republican News

 

By Nobuhiro Kubo and Tim Kelly
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Sunda Strait          © REUTERS The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Sunda Strait  

SEOUL, April 23 (Reuters) – North Korea said on Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a U.S. carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific.

U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to rising tension over the North’s nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies.

The United States has not specified where the carrier strike group is as it approaches the area. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday it would arrive “within days” but gave no other details.

North Korea remained defiant.

“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary.

The paper likened the aircraft carrier to a “gross animal” and said a strike on it would be “an actual example to show our military’s force.”

The commentary was carried on page three of the newspaper, after a two-page feature about leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a pig farm.

North Korea will mark the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army on Tuesday.

It has in the past marked important anniversaries with tests of its weapons.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

It has also carried out a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat is perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting Trump.

He has vowed to prevent the North from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a military strike.

WORRY IN JAPAN

North Korea says its nuclear program is for self-defense and has warned the United States of a nuclear attack in response to any aggression. It has also threatened to lay waste to South Korea and Japan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday North Korea’s recent statements were provocative but had proven to be hollow in the past and should not be trusted.

“We’ve all come to hear their words repeatedly, their word has not proven honest,” Mattis told a news conference in Tel Aviv, before the latest threat to the aircraft carrier.

Japan’s show of naval force reflects growing concern that North Korea could strike it with nuclear or chemical warheads.

Some Japanese ruling party lawmakers are urging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to acquire strike weapons that could hit North Korean missile forces before any imminent attack.

Japan’s navy, which is mostly a destroyer fleet, is the second largest in Asia after China’s.

The two Japanese warships, the Samidare and Ashigara, left western Japan on Friday to join the Carl Vinson and will “practice a variety of tactics” with the U.S. strike group, the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force said in a statement.

The Japanese force did not specify where the exercises were taking place but by Sunday the destroyers could have reached an area 2,500 km (1,500 miles) south of Japan, which would be waters east of the Philippines.

From there, it could take three days to reach waters off the Korean peninsula. Japan’s ships would accompany the Carl Vinson north at least into the East China Sea, a source with knowledge of the plan said.

U.S. and South Korean officials have been saying for weeks that the North could soon stage another nuclear test, something the United States, China and others have warned against.

South Korea has put is forces on heightened alert.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally which nevertheless opposes Pyongyang’s weapons programs and belligerence, has appealed for calm. The United States has called on China to do more to help defuse the tension.

Last Thursday, Trump praised Chinese efforts to rein in “the menace of North Korea,” after North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike.”               (REUTERS)

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Trump To Release Plan For Major Tax Cuts Next Week |The Republican News

 

By JULIE PACE
Related video: Tax plan with massive tax cut to be unveiled next week (Provided by CNBC)

President Donald Trump says businesses and individuals will receive a “massive tax cut” under a tax reform package he plans to unveil next week.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump says the plan will result in tax cuts for both individuals and businesses. He would not provide details of the plan, saying only that the tax cuts will be “bigger I believe than any tax cut ever.”

The president says the package will be released on “Wednesday or shortly thereafter” — just before his 100-day mark in office.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initially set a goal of getting tax reform passed by August, but that deadline has slipped. Mnuchin now says the administration still hoped to get a bill passed well before the end of the year.

(Associated Press)

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South Korea In Heightened Alert As North Prepares For Army Anniversary

 

By Ju-min Park and Ben Blanchard
Video by Fox News

SEOUL/BEIJING, April 21 (Reuters) – South Korea said on Friday it was on heightened alert ahead of another important anniversary in North Korea, with a large concentration of military hardware amassed on both sides of the border amid concerns about a new nuclear test by Pyongyang.

North Korea said late on Friday the state of affairs on the Korean peninsula was “extremely perilous” because of “madcap American nuclear war maneuvers aimed at trampling on our sovereignty and right to survival.”

U.S. officials said there was a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers, signaling a possible heightened state of readiness by reclusive North Korea’s sole major ally, although the officials played down concern and left open a range of possible reasons. Beijing denied its aircraft were on an increased level of alert.

In Russia, the RIA news agency said a Kremlin spokesman declined to comment on media reports Russia was moving military hardware and troops towards the border with North Korea.

U.S. and South Korean officials have been saying for weeks that the North could soon stage another nuclear test in violation of United Nations sanctions, something both the United States and China have warned against.

North Korea marks the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army on Tuesday, an important anniversary that comes at the end of major winter military drills, South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng said.

Top envoys from the United States, South Korea and Japan are due to meet on Tuesday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said, to “discuss plans to rein in North Korea’s additional high-strength provocations, to maximize pressure on the North, and to ensure China’s constructive role in resolving the North Korea nuclear issue.”

South Korea and the United States have also been conducting annual joint military exercises, which the North routinely criticizes as a prelude to invasion.

“It is a situation where a lot of exercise equipment is amassed in North Korea and also a lot of strategic assets are situated on the Korean peninsula because of the South Korea-U.S. military drills,” Lee told a briefing.

“We are closely watching the situation and will not be letting our guards down.”

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday praised Chinese efforts to rein in “the menace of North Korea,” after North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday North Korea’s rhetoric was provocative but he had learned not to trust it.

“UNUSUAL MOVES”

The North’s foreign ministry said in a statement that its military was ready to respond to American aggression.

“Now that we possess mighty nuclear power to protect ourselves from U.S. nuclear threat, we will respond without the slightest hesitation to full-out war with full-out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike, and we will emerge victor in the final battle with the United States.”

In a tweet, Trump said: “China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea so, while nothing is easy, if they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will.”

The president told a news conference “some very unusual moves have been made over the last two or three hours,” and that he was confident Chinese President Xi Jinping would “try very hard” to pressure North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump gave no indication of what the moves might be. None of the U.S. officials who told Reuters about the heightened level of activity by Chinese bombers suggested alarm or signaled that they knew the precise reason for such activity.

China’s Defence Ministry said its forces on the border with North Korea were maintaining a state of normal combat preparedness and training.

Asked earlier about Trump’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Xi and Trump had had a full and deep discussion about North Korea when they met this month.

“I can only say that via deep communications between China and the U.S. at various levels including at the highest levels, the U.S. now has an even fuller and more correct understanding of China’s policy and position and has a more rounded understanding of China’s efforts,” Lu said. “We feel very gratified about this.”

An official Chinese newspaper said there was optimism about persuading the North to end its pursuit of a nuclear program without the use of force, “now that even the once tough-talking Donald Trump is onboard for a peaceful solution.”

“Beijing has demonstrated due enthusiasm for Washington’s newfound interest in a diplomatic solution and willingness to work more closely with it,” the state-run China Daily said in an editorial.

In Russia’s Far East, some media have cited residents as saying they have seen military hardware being moved towards North Korea, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said deployment of Russian troops inside Russia was not a public matter.

Tensions have risen sharply in recent months after North Korea conducted two nuclear weapons tests last year and carried out a steady stream of ballistic missile tests. Trump has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile.

“RED LINE”

North Korea has said it will test missiles when it sees fit and a South Korean analyst said he believed the country would do so.

“Without crossing the red line such as a nuclear test or a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, until the April 25 anniversary of the Korean People’s Army, North Korea is expected to continue to launch mid-range missiles,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at Sejong Institute outside Seoul.

The joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises are due to finish at the end of April.

A U.S. aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, is heading towards the Korean Peninsula, Trump’s administration has said.

North Korea test-fired what the United States believed was a mid-range missile on Sunday. It blew up almost immediately.

The failed launch came a day after the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather.

There is concern the North will use the next big day on its calendar, April 25, to show off its strength.

“Although North Korea attempted a missile launch but failed on April 16, considering the April 25 anniversary of the Korean People’s Army, there are concerns that it can make another provocation again at any time,” South Korea’s acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn told top officials on Thursday.

He called on the military to maintain readiness. (Addtional reporting by Polina Devitt in MOSCOW, Idrees Ali in TEL AVIV; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Robert Birsel and Alex Richardson

(REUTERS)

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Mystic Predicts World War III Imminent, Says Bashar Assad Will Die Next Month

A MYSTIC who allegedly predicted the presidency of Donald Trump has claimed to know the date World War 3 will break out.

By NICOLE STINSON

Putin: There can be no peaceful solution with Assad in power

Mystic Horacio Villegas, who claims to be a messenger of God, believes a deadly international war will be triggered on the 100th anniversary of the visitation of Our Lady of Fatima, a title given to the Virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother.

According to Mr Villegas the war will be started by Donald Trump on May 13, which is the anniversary of Mary appearance to the village of Fatima, in Portugal, in 1917.

The international conflict will then ravage the world for six months because the last time Mary allegedly appeared to the village – on October 13, 1917 – she is said to have warned: “The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.”

Donald Trump, Bashar al-Assad, Putin, Kim Jong-unGETTY  A mystic claims World War 3 will be triggered by the death of Syrian president Assad

Donald TrumpGETTY The Trump administration has revealed all options are on the table for dealing with North Korea

This same warning was also claimed to be a prophecy for the ending of First World War, which ended a year later.

Speaking about his theory Mr Villegas said: “The main message that people need to know in order be prepared is that between May 13th and October 13 2017, this war will occur and be over with much devastation, shock and death.”

But Mr Villegas claims the world will initially tricked by a “false flag” with conflicts emerging between April 13 and May 13 which will Syria and North Korea.

Horacio Villegas

His comments come as North Korea has warned it is prepared to go to war if it is provoked by the US.

The mystic said: “The reason I feel the coming false flag might be during this Holy Week is because just as Christ suffered on a Good Friday at one time, the world is about to enter its Good Friday moment as well and it would fit in God’s timeline as to the start of this dark period in human period in human history that this war would be sparked near Good Friday 2017.”

He claims the chemical attack in Syria was a pre-cursor to World War 3 as he added: “Russia is already being baited into war through Syria, just as the zionists were seeking and China will be baited through North Korea.”

Vladimir PutinGETTY Vladimir Putin has been criticised for remaining an ally of Syria following the chemical attack

The mystic, who claims to a follower of the Roman Catholic faith, has said his reasoning is also backed by other “prophets”.

Nostradamus, a French physician who published a number of prophecies which are said to have come true, said: “Mabus will soon die, then will come, a horrible undoing of people and animals, at once one will see vengeance, one hundred powers, thirst, famine, when the comet will pass.”

Mr Villegas has alleged that “Mabus” may refer to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as there is talk between world leaders that the president could be forcibly removed from power.

He added: “If Assad is bombed and killed, this could very much fulfil this prophecy because afterwards all hell would break loose.”

(The Express, UK)

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Officer Shot In Robbery Attack In Seattle In Critical Condition, Says Hospital

 

A Seattle Police vehicle turns near the scene of a shooting involving several police officers in downtown Seattle, Thursday, April 20, 2017.© AP Photo/Ted S. Warren A Seattle Police vehicle turns near the scene of a shooting involving several police officers in downtown Seattle, Thursday, April 20, 2017.

 

SEATTLE (AP) — Hospital officials say that contrary to earlier reports, one of the two Seattle police officers shot responding to a robbery is in critical condition.

Harborview Medical Center identified the shooting victims as a 42-year-old female officer who was listed in satisfactory condition and a 30-year-old male in critical condition.

The male officer’s injuries are considered life-threatening.

Police officials and the Seattle Police Foundation previously reported that the injuries were minor.

This is a breaking news update. Check back later for more. 

EARLIER STORY: SEATTLE — Two Seattle police officers were shot Thursday while responding to a downtown robbery, authorities said. The location of the gunman was unclear.

Chief Kathleen O’Toole told reporters the injuries to the officers were believed to be minor.

Police cruisers flooded the area, closing streets, and officers warned people to stay away.

“We’ve got the doors locked, and the cops are all around us,” said Cindi Raykovich, co-owner of a nearby running shoe store. “They want us to stay in the back room. When we walk out front, there’s a guy standing out front who points at us and tells us to go back.”

The department disclosed the shooting on its Twitter feed at about 1:40 p.m. Thursday, saying the robbery had been reported near the waterfront, several blocks south of Pike Place Market.

Brad Clough, who works at a bicycle repair shop in the area, said he heard sirens and saw at least several dozen police officers converge on the scene.

“Wow. This is real,” he said, describing SWAT officers racing down the street.

AP

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US. May Launch Strike If North Korea Reaches For Nuclear Trigger

William M. Arkin and Cynthia McFadden and Courtney Kube and Kenzi Abou-Sabe

The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

North Korea has warned that a “big event” is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.

The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site.

American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Korea should it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.

The danger of such an attack by the U.S. is that it could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor.

“The leadership in North Korea has shown absolutely no sign or interest in diplomacy or dialogue with any of the countries involved in this issue,” Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told NBC News Thursday.

On Wednesday, North Korea said it would “hit the U.S. first” with a nuclear weapon should there be any signs of U.S. strikes.

On Thursday, North Korea warned of a “merciless retaliatory strike” should the U.S. take any action.

“By relentlessly bringing in a number of strategic nuclear assets to the Korean peninsula, the US is gravely threatening the peace and safety and driving the situation to the brink of a nuclear war,” said North Korea’s statement.

North Korea is not believed to have a deliverable long-range nuclear weapon, according to U.S. experts, nor does it yet possess an intercontinental missile.

South Korea’s top diplomat said today that the U.S. would consult with Seoul before taking any serious measures. “U.S. officials, mindful of such concerns here, repeatedly reaffirmed that (the U.S.) will closely discuss with South Korea its North Korea-related measures,” foreign minister Yun Byung told a special parliamentary meeting. “In fact, the U.S. is working to reassure us that it will not, just in case that we might hold such concerns.”

U.S. Officials Are Aware of the Risk

“Two things are coming together this weekend,” said retired Adm. James Stavridis, former commander of NATO and an NBC analyst. “One is the distinct possibility of a sixth North Korean nuclear weapons detonation and the other is an American carrier strike group, a great deal of firepower headed right at the Korean Peninsula.”

The U.S. is aware that simply preparing an attack, even if it will only be launched if there is an “imminent” North Korean action, increases the danger of provoking a large conflict, multiple sources told NBC News.

“It’s high stakes,” a senior intelligence official directly involved in the planning told NBC News. “We are trying to communicate our level of concern and the existence of many military options to dissuade the North first.”

“It’s a feat that we’ve never achieved before but there is a new sense of resolve here,” the official said, referring to the White House.

The threat of a preemptive strike comes on the same day the U.S. announced the use of its MOAB — or Mother of All Bombs — in Afghanistan, attacking underground facilities, and on the heels of U.S. missile strikes on a Syrian airbase last week, a strike that took place while President Trump was meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.

Multiple government officials familiar with the situation say President Trump has talked to Chinese president Xi twice about North Korea since their Florida summit.

China has since sent its top nuclear negotiators to Pyongyang to communicate the gravity of the situation to the North, officials say. On Wednesday, President Xi called for a peaceful resolution to the escalating tensions.

Moscow has weighed in as well: “We are gravely concerned about Washington’s plans regarding North Korea, considering hints about the unilateral use of a military scenario” the Putin government said in a press release issued on Tuesday.

South Korea Must Sign Off

Implementation of the preemptive U.S. plans, according to multiple U.S. officials, depends centrally on consent of the South Korean government. The sources stress that Seoul has got to be persuaded that action is worth the risk, as there is universal concern that any military move might provoke a North Korean attack, even a conventional attack across the DMZ.

Tensions have escalated on the Korean Peninsula, as this Saturday marks the anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founder — Kim il-Sung, grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un. At the highest levels in South Korea and the U.S., sources told NBC News, there are fears North Korea could mark the “Day of the Sun” by testing a nuclear device.

“North Korea in the past has used these major national holidays to celebrate the strengths of the regime and to reinforce the national narrative of their independence,” says Cha.

According to multiple sources, the U.S. intelligence community has reported with “moderate confidence” that North Korea is preparing for its sixth underground nuclear test, though the U.S. is also in the dark regarding the specific timing.

The Trump administration, emboldened by their punishing strike on Syria, and by a successful meeting with the Chinese leader, hopes that the Chinese will use their considerable leverage to dissuade Kim Jong UN and his government from moving ahead with their nuclear program.

President Trump has said he thinks Xi “wants to help us with North Korea,” He credited China during Thursday’s White House news conference with Xi with taking a “big step” by turning back boats of coal that North Korea sells to China.

“I think that is what President Trump is getting trying to get the Chinese to do,” said Cha. “[It] would impose real pain and force real choices on North Korea — whether the costs are worth it for them to continue to pursue this program if they no longer have any sustenance.”

In addition to the coal ships, the Chinese made an important gesture at the UN Thursday: A surprising abstention on a Security Council resolution condemning a Syrian chemical weapons attack. China didn’t stand with the Russians on Syria, as it has in the past.

The president also made clear that if the Chinese were unable to diffuse the situation, the U.S. would go to alone. On Thursday, he tweeted: “I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., and its allies will!”

NBC News

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Putin And Tillerson Find They Disagree On World Views And Facts

 

By DAVID E. SANGER
Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, right, and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson at a news conference on Wednesday in Moscow.© Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, right, and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson at a news conference on Wednesday in Moscow.  

MOSCOW — Vladimir V. Putin kept his guest, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, dangling all day.

It was not clear until around 5 p.m., when the secretary of state’s small motorcade eased out of the Ritz-Carlton in one of the fanciest parts of Moscow and slipped into Red Square that Russia’s president was willing to engage in his first face-to-face meeting with a senior member of President Trump’s administration, even one who is an old business partner who used to show up on behalf of Exxon Mobil.

If a few weeks ago critics of the Trump administration feared that Mr. Tillerson would simply fold on the sanctions imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, they need not have worried. In a two-hour meeting, as later described in sketchy terms by Mr. Tillerson, they did not agree on much — certainly not on who was responsible for fatally poisoning Syrian civilians with the nerve agent sarin, or for the interference in the American elections last year and the European elections underway now.
“We need to attempt to put an end to this steady degradation, which is doing nothing to restore the trust between our two countries or to make progress on the issues of the greatest importance to both of us,” Mr. Tillerson said at a news conference with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov.

Mr. Tillerson went on to describe how the two countries were establishing “a working group to address smaller issues and make progress toward stabilizing the relationship,” a recognition of the fact that the big issues were so big that no working group would have the authority.

Dangling meetings is an old technique for Mr. Putin, used to keep other leaders off balance and demonstrate his control. But when Mr. Putin and Mr. Tillerson did meet, it was clear that they not only have different world views, but that they have different views of the facts. And that made it difficult to achieve anything other than cosmetic accords on the issues over which the two nations, in a revival of Cold War rhetoric, have charged each other with lying about.

For good measure, Mr. Lavrov offered a lengthy tutorial for Mr. Tillerson about all the examples of American-led regime change in the world — from Slobodan Milosevic to Saddam Hussein to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi — that went bad, suggesting it made no sense to add Mr. Assad to the list.

But there was no talk of reviving the “Geneva process,” the meetings of nearly 20 nations that John Kerry, Mr. Tillerson’s predecessor, had organized to help force a political process to end the civil war in Syria and hold a vote that would decide the fate of President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Tillerson said, again, that Mr. Assad had to go — in a way he did not specify — and when pressed on whether he agreed with Mr. Trump’s description of the Syrian leader as an “animal,” he said that “characterization is one that President Assad has brought upon himself.”

Mr. Tillerson is in many ways the personality opposite of Mr. Kerry: when asked a hard question he will offer the tersest answer possible, rather than attack with words. Asked at the news conference whether he had raised with Mr. Putin the subject of Russian meddling in the 2016 American presidential election, he said, “as to the question of the interference with the election, that is fairly well-established in the United States.”

His answer ignored that such meddling is not a well-established fact in the mind of his boss.

Asked how he explained the difference between Russia’s use of cyber weapons in the election and the American use of them against Iran’s nuclear program and North Korea’s missile program, Mr. Tillerson said simply: “Cyber tools to disrupt weapons programs — that’s another use of the tools, and I make a distinction between those two.”

That was the closest any Trump administration official has come to acknowledging, publicly, the use of cyber weapons against American adversaries.

Mr. Tillerson’s first visit to Moscow as America’s most important diplomat also was striking in what was conspicuously missing: there were no meetings with political dissidents or opponents of Mr. Putin. The subject of crackdowns or human rights in Russia never came up. But the Syria dispute provided plenty of tension.

In the 24 hours before Mr. Tillerson landed in Moscow, the White House accused Mr. Putin’s government of covering up evidence that Mr. Assad had been responsible for the April 4 chemical weapons assault, which the Americans say was launched from a base where Russian troops were operating.

Mr. Putin shot back that the charge was fabricated in ways reminiscent of the run-up to the 2003 American invasion of Iraq.

He quoted two Russian writers, Ilya Ilf and Yevgeni Petrov, authors of the 1928 satire “The 12 Chairs,” and said, “‘It’s boring, ladies.’ We have seen this all before.”

But the diplomatic theater playing out in Moscow on a rainy Wednesday morning was far from boring: Mr. Putin, operating on home turf, was looking for any way to shape the narrative of Mr. Tillerson’s trip.

The Kremlin had initially said Mr. Putin would not meet with Mr. Tillerson, although his spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, held out the possibility of a meeting later in the day.

Russian leaders have greeted virtually all new secretaries of state since the end of World War II.

Mr. Tillerson, who was recognized with an Order of Friendship medal by the Russian government while he was the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has insisted on a tough line on Russia, ruling out any early end to sanctions unless the country returns Crimea to Ukraine and ceases meddling elsewhere.

On Syria, Mr. Tillerson delivered what sounded much like an ultimatum to the Russians on Tuesday while talking to reporters at a Group of 7 meeting in Italy.

“I think it is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end,” Mr. Tillerson said, echoing a theme first heard from Mr. Obama in 2011, when the Arab Spring led many to believe the Syrian leader was about to be overthrown.

Mr. Tillerson essentially demanded that Russia make a choice, severing ties with Mr. Assad and working with the United States on a variety of initiatives in the Middle East.

As Mr. Tillerson entered the Foreign Ministry here to meet Mr. Lavrov, an experienced and wily veteran of many of Russia’s post-Cold War encounters with Washington, the Russian government released another salvo against American intentions here.

The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria V. Zakharova, said it was “useless” for Mr. Tillerson to arrive in Moscow with “ultimatums” and suggested that if he wanted any progress, he should start by getting Mr. Trump and his administration on the same page about Syria strategy.

(The New York Times)

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