PUTIN CAVES: RUSSIAN LEADER MEETS WITH TILLERSON IN ‘TENSE’ EXCHANGE DESPITE EARLIER REFUSAL

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russian president Vladimir Putin met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today in an apparent about face.

Putin, who had earlier in the week refused to meet with Tillerson amid tensions over the American strike on Syria, spoke with Tillerson in Moscow for nearly two hours, a U.S. Embassy spokesperson has confirmed.

The meeting comes after harsh words by president Trump toward Russia, who he claims assisted Syria in a deadly chemical strike on Syrian civilians that killed dozens of people.

“If Russia didn’t go in and back this animal (Syrian president Bashar al-Assad), you wouldn’t have a problem right now,” said Trump.

Sources with close knowledge of the meeting said that Tillerson pushed Putin to cooperate with the United States in helping to bring Syria under control. Despite a long standing friendship between Tillerson and Putin, the meeting was described as “tense”.

During the 24 hour period leading up to Tillerson’s landing in Moscow, the White House accused the Russian government of hiding evidence that proved al-Assad was responsible the gassing of his own people, launched from a base where Russian troops are operating.

In a statement, an angry Putin shot back that the charge was fabricated and accused President Trump, who American media claimed had collaborated with Putin to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 election, of fabricating the evidence to create a fake confrontation.

“This reminds me very much of the events of 2003, when U.S. representatives in the Security Council showed alleged chemical weapons discovered in Iraq,” said Putin, referring to intelligence that Mr. Trump has also cited in recent months. “The exact same thing is happening now,” he argued.

Sean Spicer, when asked about to expect in regard to the meeting between Tillerson and Putin on Wednesday, said Tillerson was expected to focus on the mutual interests of the United States and Russia but that Tillerson would also put Putin on notice that the U.S. will not tolerate further acts of aggression by Russia or their Syrian ally.

“I think there is a shared interest in defeating ISIS in the region that we have a national security concern that should align with their national security concern,” he said. “Russia right now is an island. It’s Russia, North Korea and Iran … Russia is among that group the only non-failed state.”

Russia is only “isolating” itself by standing by Assad, he added.

The Kremlin had said earlier in the week that Putin would not meet with Mr. Tillerson upon his arrival, but on Wednesday the Russian leader’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said Putin would “consider” meeting with Tillerson at some point “depending on how Tillerson’s other talks” went.

As a matter of protocol, Russian leaders have greeted virtually all new secretaries of state since the end of World War II, and the initial refusal was considered to be a major snub to U.S. Russian relations and was cited by many political experts as a an effort by Mr. Putin to show Tillerson that just who was in control.

Before heading back behind closed doors, Putin and Tillerson shared a stiff handshake and made no eye contact.

Russia has said that despite U.S. concerns, they will continue to back their Syrian ally and will do “whatever it takes” to ensure that al-Assad has the military backing necessary to thwart off another U.S. attack.

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TILLERSON SNUBBED: ANGRY VLADIMIR PUTIN REFUSES TO MEET WITH SECRETARY OF STATE FOLLOWING TRUMP ORDERED STRIKE ON SYRIA

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russian president Vladimir Putin has refused to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as tensions over last week’s U.S. missile attack on a Syrian air base reach a fever pitch.

The snub is further evidence of growing hostilities between the United States in Russia as Putin has granted several audiences to Tillerson in the past, once even going so far as personally awarding Tillerson a top Russian state award — the Order of Friendship — in 2013.

“We have not announced any such meetings and right now there is no meeting with Tillerson in the president’s diary,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters.

Putin has condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s ordered missile strike on a Syrian military base last week in retaliation for what intelligence officials say was a poisonous gas attack in which dozens of civilians, including 27 children, were killed.

In a statement issued shortly after American bombers struck the Syrian base, Putin said there is no proof that the Syria was responsible for the chemical attack, and called the U.S. missile strike an act of aggression and violation of international law.

Russia, a staunch ally of Syria, has said it will do “whatever it takes” to ensure that Syria has the military power necessary to protect itself from further U.S. attacks.

In light of Putin’s refusal to meet with Tillerson, the Secretary of State will instead meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

According to sources, Tillerson is expected to present an “it’s either them or us” scenario to the Russian dipolmat.

“Russia has really aligned itself with the Assad regime, the Iranians and Hezbollah,” Tillerson said Tuesday. “Is that a long-term alliance that serves the Russians’ interest? Or would Russia prefer to realign with the United States, with other Western countries, and Middle East countries who are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis?”

Russia has warned the United States that any further attacks on Syria will result in serious” consequences. Despite the warning, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Friday the Trump administration was “ready and willing” to take further steps if needed.

ENOUGH: TILLERSON SAYS IT ALL IN SHORT, CRYPTIC RESPONSE TO NORTH KOREAN MISSILE LAUNCH

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sometimes what is left unsaid says it all. That appears to be the case when it comes to Rex Tillerson’s shrouded message on Wednesday to North Korea.

In response to news that the rogue nation had fired yet another practice missile just one day before president Donald Trump’s scheduled meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that his patience with North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un had reached it’s end.

“North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment,” Tillerson said in an official statement.

U.S. officials have pinned their hopes on the possibility that China may play a role in easing tensions between the United States and North Korea. While China’s official stance is that it opposes military action against North Korea, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Wednesday called for cooperation from both sides.

“China has noticed such reports, we all know that the Security Council at the United Nations has issued regulations related to the missile launch by North Korea,” said Chunying. “We think that all sides involved should exercise restraint and not do anything that will escalate the difficult situation in the region.”

Despite China’s call for compromise, political analysts recognized Tillerson’s statement as further proof that the Trump administration’s policy in regard to dealing with the communist nation will be far different than that of Barack Obama’s.

“It seems Tillerson purposefully issued a short statement to send a tough signal,” said Kim Sung-han, a professor at Seoul’s Korea University and a former South Korean deputy foreign minister. “He is making it clear that, no matter what North Korea does, the United States won’t commit to direct negotiations unless Pyongyang shows real willingness for disarmament.”

Although the Pentagon has assessed North Korea’s latest test missile as a failure, intelligence officials have discovered that the North Korean military has developed an arsenal of high tech nuclear weapons that, if utilized, could anihalate up to 90 percent of the U.S. population (http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/defense/326094-how-north-korea-could-kill-up-to-90-percent-of-americans-at-any).

Narushige Michishita, an analyst from Tokyo’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, said Trump’s attempt to “sound scary” won’t work with North Korea, or China for that matter, if he fails to back his words with action.

“The Trump administration’s credibility will be undermined if it fails,” he said.

“The clock has now run out,” said Tillerson on the North Korean threat. When asked if a preemptive nuclear strike against North Korea was a possibility, he replied, “All options are on the table.”

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‘MAD DOG’ ON THE ATTACK: MATTIS SAYS NORTH KOREAN LEADER ‘MUST BE STOPPED’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Defense Secretary James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis says North Korea is out of control when it comes to its nuclear weapons and missile programs and it’s “reckless” leader, Kim Jong-un, “has got to be stopped”.

Mattis, who is famous for his no nonsense approach to terror, made the comments while speaking at a news conference in London in response to a journalist’s question about Iran.

“This is a threat of both rhetoric and growing capability, and we will be working with the international community to address this,” he said. “We are working diplomatically, including with those that we might be able to enlist in this effort to get North Korea under control. But right now it appears to be going in a very reckless manner.”

“That’s got to be stopped,” said continued.

In early March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also talked tough against the rogue nation, saying that “diplomatic … efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of de-nuclearization have failed” before adding that military action to stop North Korea from attacking the U.S. was “on the table.”

Tillerson’s warnings apparently went unheeded as two days later North Korea conducted yet another ground jet test of a newly developed high-thrust missile engine. South Korean officials warned that the test proved that Kim had gained “meaningful progress” on the development of more sophisticated technology.

Kim has vowed to develop weapons capable of striking the U.S. and “destroying 90 percent of the U.S. population”. According to U.S. officials, North Korea has conducted more missile tests over the past four years than in the rest of the country’s history.

The Trump administration is reportedly testing sanctions against North Korea in an effort to slow the nuclear program by placing diplomatic and economic pressure on Chinese banks who conduct business with North Korea.

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TERROR IN LONDON: 4 DEAD AFTER KNIFE WIELDING ATTACKER WREAKS HAVOC OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT

LONDON, ENGLAND — Four people, including a London police officer, are confirmed dead after a knife wielding suspect launched an attack outside the U.K.’s parliament on Wednesday. In addition to those killed, at least twenty others are confirmed injured, three of which are police officers.

London police were called to the Parliament building at around 2:40 p.m. local time (10:40 a.m. EST) in response to reports of a vehicle crashing into a crowd at Westminster Bridge.

Police say the driver of the vehicle mowed down pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, leapt from the car and began hacking passersby with a knife.

The attacker was shot by police and later confirmed dead.

Deputy Commisssioner and Head of Counter Terrorism Mark Rowley told reporters that all the information they’ve received leads them to believe that only one attacker was involved.

“Sadly, I can confirm that now four people have died. That includes the police officer who was protecting Parliament, and one man that we believe to be the attacker who was shot by police fire at the scene,” said Rowley. “We are satisfied at this stage that it looks like there was only one attacker. But it would be foolish to be overconfident early on.”

“This is the day we have planned for but we hoped would never happen,” Rowley continued. “Sadly, it’s now a reality.”

According to a spokesperson for the National Security Council, president Trump was briefed on the attack shortly after it occurred and immediately called British Prime Minister Theresa May where he offered his condolences.

In addition to offering his condolences, Trump promised May the full cooperation and support of the US government in “responding to the attack and bringing those responsible to justice.”

The US State Department echoed Trump’s support for the U.K. in a statement issued shortly after the attack.

“We condemn these horrific acts of violence, and whether they were carried out by troubled individuals or by terrorists, the victims know no difference,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in the statement.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer also condemned the attack during his daily press briefing on Wednesday, and praised the quick response by police officials and first responders on the scene.

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TOUGH TALK: TILLERSON SAYS NUCLEAR STRIKE AGAINST NORTH KOREA ‘ON THE TABLE’

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Friday that a nuclear strike against North Korea is an option that remains “on the table”.

In an interview with Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/03/17/tillerson-refuses-to-rule-out-nuclearization-asian-allies-to-keep-north-korea-in-check.html), Tillerson said nuclear action may be what’s necessary to wane the rogue nation’s acts of aggression.

“We’re exchanging views,” Tillerson said. “Nothing has been taken off the table”.

Tillerson, who has been vocal about the failing impact of diplomacy against the communist country, told South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se that a new tactic has become necessary.

“Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson told Byung-se in a meeting this week in Seoul. “If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level we believe requires action that option is on the table.”

Tillerson also made it clear that, unlike the Obama administration, the Trump administration is unwilling to engage in further talk until North Korea lives up to it’s prior commitments to peace.

Negotiations “can only be achieved by denuclearizing, giving up their weapons of mass destruction,” he said — an agreement that North Korea committed to in 1992 but has continued to violate. “Only then will we be prepared to engage them in talks.”

Tillerson’s tough talk to North Korea was echoed by president Trump Friday afternoon on Twitter.

“North Korea is behaving very badly,” the president tweeted. “They have been “playing” the United States for years. China has done little to help!”

Tillerson is next headed to China where he hopes to discuss coordinated efforts to halt North Korea’s advancing nuclear programs.

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