CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CONNECT THE WORLD

Rebels Take Control Of Syrian Border Gates; Russia, China Veto UN Resolution

Aired July 19, 2012 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hello and welcome to Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson in London with you. We're going to get straight to developments in Syria for you this hour amid reports of chaos in Damascus. It now appears the regime may be losing control of its frontiers. We'll be live in the capital in a moment.

First, though, our Ivan Watson is live from the Turkish side of a border crossing into Syria. And Ivan, what's the latest from there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, the rebel commanders say that they briefly seized control of the Bab al-Hawa border gate on the Syria side of the border and just directly on the other -- opposite side of it after a battle with Syrian government forces. They say they were able to capture the offices there, that they were able to destroy some of the portraits of Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad who of course ruled this country for more than 40 years before eventually having to withdraw under gunfire from pro-government Shabiha militia and from the remaining Syrian government forces there.

And this coincided with a Syrian rebel attack at a border post far to the east along the border with Iraq Albo Kamal where Iraqi police and security officers tell CNN that rebels also managed to seize control of that border gate on Thursday, a sign that the rebels are trying to push and probe Syrian government positions at a time as the fighting continues in the capital itself for the fifth straight day -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ivan, if the opposition is able to seize these borders to the north in Turkey, to the east towards Iraq, possibly border crossings that we -- that there are reports of many Syrians are using to cross into Lebanon, just how significant would this control be?

WATSON: Well, it would be a symbolic blow to the regime which purports to still control the country, though it's very clear that the rebels have effectively developed safe havens in different pockets around the country. It could also theoretically if the Turks, for instance, were to cooperate would give the rebels control of their own official border crossing.

But we're not at that stage yet. The rebels have said that they have withdrawn from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing. And we'll have to see how long they can actually hold on to the Iraqi border crossing at Albo Kamal.

The thing is, is that when the Syrian government forces amass their troops, when they reinforce and when they go on the offensive, eventually the rebels have to withdraw under that superior firepower, which includes tanks and armored personnel carriers and helicopters. And the rebels just don't have that kind of firepower.

The problem that the Syrian government faces is they can't then hold on to territory, they're stretched too thin and when they pull back that's when the rebels filter back in. And that's what the rebels seem to be doing in neighborhoods of the capital itself, an enormous challenge to the authority of the Syrian government.

ANDERSON: And that is where we are next.

Ivan Watson on the border there for you at the start of what could be a breakdown of control with the country's frontier.

Let's get to Damascus. The Syrian regime focusing many of its assets there reportedly using tank fire for the first time to try to crush what is a growing rebellion. This is the fifth day of fierce clashes in the capital, hundreds of people fleeing the violence, fearing what could be a large-scale government assault. The regime took steps today to quiet speculation about President Bashar al-Assad after a bombing in Damascus killed his defense minister and two other top aides.

The president appeared on Syrian TV to swear in a new defense minister, one of the very few journalists on the ground in Syria is Sander Van Hoom he's on the phone for us from Damascus tonight. What is the latest from there?

SANDER VAN HOOM, JOURNALIST: It's very quiet now in Damascus. There's almost no traffic and at this time there's almost no fighting. Occasional gunshots, that's all you hear.

ANDERSON: How would you describe the scene earlier today?

VAN HOOM: Fighting has been on and off. We drove our car to Midan (ph), which is one of the areas that saw some heavy fighting in the last day, but when we got there it was quiet, blocked of course by the army, but very quiet. As soon as we got back to the hotel we saw plumes of smoke rising from there. So it's on and off. It looks like a cat and mouse game that is being played.

The fact that it's being quiet right now, no guarantee it will remain that way. We've seen it happening last night, eerie quiet and after that, all hell broke loose.

ANDERSON: And the scenes you're seeing of the Midan (ph) district in Damascus.

Is it clear tonight where President Assad is?

VAN HOOM: No. I mean, if we have to believe state television we see him in his presidential palace inaugurating the new secretary of defense. But people, even people here tell me, that might well have been prerecorded. There's so many speculations, especially because nobody saw footage of the sight of the attack. So there's great doubt, even among people that are not necessarily negative against the president, even among them there's doubt if we are actually seeing what we are seeing.

ANDERSON: So doubt that that assault, that deadly assault on his inner circle actually took place? Is that the talk?

VAN HOOM: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. One man we met today, he came up with four different stories about what might have happened.

ANDERSON: The deadly assault on his inner circle that we believe took place, is there any suggestion of if indeed it did take place, of who was responsible for that yet?

VAN HOOM: No. No. At this time, nobody really knows. Information is sketchy. And I mean, the people you talk to they all tell different stories, but there's so many people that are not here to tell about the story, because they simply left, one of the reasons I'm looking at empty streets right now as we speak in downtown Damascus, is because many people left. People fleeing to Lebanon, neighboring country Lebanon.

But also internally, while we were driving around we just saw people walking or sharing taxis, minivans with luggage loaded onto the top of the car, basically going anywhere, especially if they want to leave the place where the fighting took place.

ANDERSON: We thank you for your reporting. Stay safe there in Damascus.

An eerie quiet in the Syrian capital tonight. A seeming breakdown of control at the country's borders.

What is going on? That is the scene in Syria.

Meanwhile, western nations are outraged that Russia and China yet again have vetoed tough against Syria at the United Nations Security Council earlier today. Those vetoes torpedoed a resolution that threatened sanctions.

Now Washington's UN ambassador called the vetoes pitiful. Susan Rice talked to CNN Wolf Blitzer a short time ago. Have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: They have three times now made the very harsh and cold decision to back Assad to the bitter end at the expense of the Syrian people and at the expense of regional peace and security. Now I don't know that even my colleague Vitaly Churkin if you gave him truth serum would be entirely comfortable with the decision he was compelled to defend today.

The reality is that Russia and China are isolated outliers within the international community. They have put all their chips yet again on a sinking Assad vessel. And they are making a big miscalculation over the long-term both in terms of their interests and in terms of how history will judge them. History will judge them as having stood by a brutal dictator at the expense of his own people and at the expense of the will of the international community and the countries in the region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: All right. Susan Rice speaking earlier today.

Russia and China defending their veto. Moscow says the resolution was one-sided and could have paved the way for military intervention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VITALY CHURKIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UN (through translator): The draft which was just voted on was biased. The threat of sanctions were leveled exclusively at the government of Syria. This runs counter to the spirit of the Geneva document and does not reflect the realities in the country today.

What is especially ambiguous here -- is especially ambiguous in line of what took place yesterday in Damascus. I'm referring to the grave terrorist attack. The western members of the council refuse to work on the text of the draft resolution submitted by the Russian delegation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Let's get reaction now from Saudi, a country that supports the Syrian opposition. The Saudi UN ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi joins me now from the United Nations.

Sir, it's a pleasure to have you on.

Firstly, I want to get your reaction to the Russian veto on the resolution at the UN today. Susan Rice certainly calling Russia and China, and I quote isolated liars within the international community. Your response.

ABDALLAH AL-MOUALLIMI, SAUDI ARABIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: Well, thank you very much for hosting me. This is a sad day for the United Nations. It is a sad day for peace and security in the world. And it is a sad day for all the peoples of the world to have put their hopes and aspirations on the United Nations.

The United Nations is being held hostage by the vetoes of the two superpowers, Russia and China, against the will of the Syrian people, against the will of the Arab nations, and against the will of the international community. This is an expression of the worst of the United Nations reactions.

ANDERSON: We are well aware this hour the (inaudible) of other states aren't waiting for actions from the UN. You're backing the rebels. What sort of support are you providing at this stage? Describe it to me.

AL-MOUALLIMI: Well, we are providing mainly diplomatic support here in the United Nations and we are providing moral support. We think that it is only moral and right for the people of Syria to be given the opportunity to defend themselves now that the international community, exemplified by the Security Council is abandoning them.

ANDERSON: With respect, sir, with respect, it's pretty clear that Saudi and others are providing intelligence and military hardware on the ground. So just tell our viewers what it is that you are providing and how you are getting it into Syria and whose hands you're getting it into at the moment. Who are you supporting on the ground?

AL-MOUALLIMI: Well, we are supporting the people of Syria. We are supporting the innocent victims who are being slaughtered throughout Syria. We are supporting...

ANDERSON: With heavy weaponry right?

AL-MOUALLIMI: ...who has risen up against oppression.

Well, we're not supporting with weaponry. We are not a weaponry exporter country. We do not have excess weapons in our stockpiles. We supporting them by any means that we think can enable them to defend themselves in an appropriate manner. And we are supporting them here in New York through out diplomatic efforts with the world community at large.

I think the opposition is not getting enough support, neither from us nor from anybody else for that matter.

ANDERSON: The Red Cross the other day calling the crisis in Syria a civil war. And that's an important admission by the Red Cross at this stage. So when the critics suggest that you are now fomenting a bloody civil war as the Saudis for regional gain what do you say?

AL-MOUALLIMI: Well, I say let's go back a year-and-a-half ago when the demonstrations started throughout Syria, chanting famia, famia (ph), peaceful, peaceful. What was the response at that time? It was bloody slaughter and use of heavy artillery, use of tanks, use of all kinds of weapons against anything peaceful, civilian martyrs. So the responsibility for how the struggle has developed into a more bloody confrontation lies squarely on the -- in the laps of the Syrian authorities.

ANDERSON: How concerned are you about an extended regional conflict here? This is fast becoming a sectarian conflict. We all know that. How concerned are you about his influence on the region?

AL-MOUALLIMI: We're very, very concerned. We think that the longer the Syrian conflict continues, the more opportunity for chaos, for extremism to take hold. I do not necessarily accept that this is now a sectarian conflict, because the various sects in Syria have lived side by side for hundreds of years and there have not been any confrontations related to the sectarian divisions. It is the regime that has used sectarianism to bolster its position and to reinforce its power and to try to seek the supremacy of one part of the population against another.

ANDERSON: You want to see the end of the regime and of Assad. Two questions to you, Saudi in the past has provided a safe haven for many dictators the world has looked to get rid of. Firstly, would you ever provide a safe haven for him? I'm guessing the answer is no, but you can give it to me from your mouth.

And secondly, if not the Assad regime, have you or anybody else in the region sort of worked out what sort of regime you want in Saudi? Because the opposition is quite frankly fractured at this point.

AL-MOUALLIMI: Well, whenever we hosted ousted leaders, we did so upon the request of various factions within the country and in an effort to promote a peaceful resolution to conflict within that country. So I do not necessarily accept your description that we are hosting dictators throughout.

In the case of President Assad, had he sought refuge in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the crisis before his hand had been bloodied by the souls of children and victims, that would have been a different story.

As to what we want, we want the regime that the Syrian people want. It's not for us to decide what regime should rule Syria, or for that matter any other country, it is up to the Syrians. Give the Syrians the chance to decide their own fate, give them the opportunity to select their own government, and the Syrians will rise to the challenge and hopefully provide a form of government that meets the needs of the Syrian people and that ranks within the civilized branch of nations.

ANDERSON: So no safe haven for Assad from Saudi Arabia tonight, but certainly no real idea about what comes next either. Sir, it's a pleasure to have you on. Thank you very much indeed for giving us your time here on CNN.

The Saudi ambassador to the United Nations.

A story just continues. Stay tuned to CNN. And as the fight for Damascus intensifies, control of the country's borders break down. And as a civil war rages on the ground, UN outraged at Russia once again failed to support the west's efforts to end this Syrian crisis.

CNN, your home for all things Syria.

Moving on, Bulgarian officials believe the bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and injured dozens more is the work of a suicide bomber. Investigators say security footage shows a suspect who was likely carrying a backpack bomb. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking a hard line against Iran saying it and militant group Hezbollah are behind the attack. The Iranian embassy in Bulgaria dismissed his claims, calling them unsubstantiated.

With more now, we're joined on the ground by Atika Schubert at the scene of the attacks near Bergas Airport -- Atika.

ATIKA SCHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, we are literally meters away from where the attack took place. And I just want to walk you through the scene a little bit like the Bulgarian interior minister did with us today.

This, of course, is the main terminal. Behind me, there are security cameras. And that's where they were able to get video of the suspect apparently wandering around the terminal about an hour before the attack. And what's eerie about it is he looks just like any other backpack traveler.

Now according to the interior minister, what happened then was he walked into a bus lane like this. And this, behind me, is where basically he lined up with others and attempted to put his bag inside. And according to the Bulgarian interior minister, that's when it all happened.

Here's what he told me earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHUBERT: What is he showing us here?

TSVETAN TSVETANOV, BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): In fact, this is the exact place of the blast. He was standing here. The luggage compartment was at his back. That's when he detonated the backpack. The blast impact destroyed the luggage area. The whole bus caught fire. This was where it all started.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHUBERT: Now you can probably see, this has now been restored to normal. It's completely busy. The airport is back in operation. But I can tell you just earlier this morning this whole area was still being swept for evidence. In fact when we were with the Bulgarian interior minister we found just a small 10 dollar note that seems to have been charred possibly from that blast. And it goes to show they're really trying to pick up every little piece of evidence here to see whatever they can find to determine who is this man and why did he do what he did.

ANDERSON: Atika Schubert there in Bulgaria for you. Atika thank you.

We're going to take a very short break here on CNN. 20 minutes past 9:00 out of London for you. Coming back, though, with the ongoing fight to end modern day slavery. How Mexico is pushing new measures to punish human traffickers.

And back to the bird's nest: how Beijing has moved on four years after the Olympics. All that and much more when Connect the World continues. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: CNN's Freedom Project has been shining a spotlight on human trafficking for the best part of a year now. It's part of our fight to end modern day slavery. I've got a report for you on the dark secrets of Mexico's sex trade where each year thousands of young girls are taken from their families and forced into prostitution. I want to share this with you. Rafael Romo brings us the story of two women who managed to escape. Have a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They were just 14 years old, these two cousins, coming back from a town fair in central Mexico. As they were waiting for the bus they recalled two men got off a truck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were two men who were wearing black masks like hoodies. We couldn't see their faces.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I only felt that they put something on my nose and that's all I remember. The last thing I remember is yelling for help.

ROMO: The girls, who we are calling Maria and Lupe, say they woke up alone in a dark room where they were kept for several days.

And then it got worse, Maria says a woman suddenly showed up threatening her life and forced her to have sex with 23 men.

MARY: When they left, I stayed there lying on the floor, bleeding. My entire body ached. The woman told me to get up, that it hadn't been that bad.

ROMO: Their stories, as told to Comino Acasa (ph), a Mexican anti- trafficking organization, are chilling.

Lupe's father also spoke to the group. He recalls how desperate he and his family were looking for the girls.

FRANCISCO, VICTIM'S FATHER (through translator): Then someone suggested searching in bars along highways. We would see young girls. There are many in the state of Morelos (ph). Some were wearing (inaudible), others had their hair dyed and more suggestive clothing.

ROMO: Maria says she was forced to work from 3:00 in the afternoon until 6:00 in the morning only to get up again at noon for another 18 hour shift.

MARIA: I felt so dirty, that every time I took a shower and every time they put makeup on me I felt like an old lady. I felt as if I didn't have a family.

ROMO: Forced to use drugs and drink alcohol, Maria says she thought her life would soon end. And then the unexpected. She was able to escape through a locked door.

The girl's families immediately went to the police raided a brothel. 10 people were arrested and six underaged girls rescued, including Lupe. And officials say more raids followed.

VICTOR CARRANCA, LEAD PROSECUTOR (through translator): State's attorney's office focus on targeting sources of financing before these three young groups. He eventually closed down 600 establishments.

ROSI OROZCO, MEXICAN LEGISLATOR: Some people that think they can buy another human being.

ROMO: Congresswoman Rosi Orozco spoke to us holding a rose as a symbol to the thousands of underage girls sexually exploited every year in Mexico.

OROZCO: If we all can change, if we stop saying Johns, there are no Johns. The clients are criminals.

ROMO: Congresswoman Orozco offered an anti-trafficking bill that was signed into law in June. It makes human trafficking a federal crime punishable by up to 40 years in prison. And it targets not only those involved in sex trafficking, but also other forms of modern slavery, including forced labor and child pornography.

With the help of Camina a Casa (ph) both Maria and Lupe are back with their families.

MARIA: I'm no longer angry or want to get revenge. That's what I want to say. Vengeance is not good. I have already forgiven those people and I'm happy again.

ROMO: A long and painful road to recovery is ahead, but finally being home, they say, allows them to dream again of a better future. Rafael Romo, CNN, central Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: All right, to learn more about CNN's fight to end modern day slavery, visit CNN.com/freedom. There you'll see people around the world who combat human trafficking and you can get involved in this fight. All at CNN.com/freedom.

This is Connect the World out of London. 27 minutes past 9:00. Plenty more to come including Spain's pain, forcing thousands to take to the streets. These are live pictures out of Spain for you this evening. We're going to explain why the country's economy is caught in a vicious crisis. That is the scene in Madrid this evening.

And he's one of the best tennis players in the world. Unfortunately Nadal won't be playing at the Olympics. We're going to find out why in about 10 or so minutes.

And we head back to Beijing when we find out whether four years on the Olympics spirit there is still alive and kicking. That and your headlines coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson for you. These are the latest world news headlines on CNN.

News just coming into CNN Center. A senior Iraqi army official Anbar province tells us the main border-crossing posts, along with seven other small security border posts, are now in the hands of Syrian rebel forces.

And we're also getting an update on a Turkish border post briefly seized earlier today by the rebels. Ivan Watson reports that the Free Syrian Army is no longer in control of that compound.

Western nations are furious that Russia and China have once again vetoed tough UN action against Syria. These vetoes torpedoed a new Security Council resolution that threatened sanctions. Russia and China say it was one-sided and could have led to military intervention.

Investigators are looking into a deadly bus bombing that left at least seven people dead in Bulgaria on Wednesday. Officials believe a male suicide bomber carried explosives in his backpack onto a bus packed with Israeli tourists. The Israeli prime minister says Iran and the militant group Hezbollah are behind the attack.

And Spanish workers are on strike. These are live pictures out of Madrid for you this hour. We've just come off these live pictures just earlier on today, in fact, pictures out of Madrid for you, the country's two main unions staging a walkout in response to new pay cuts and tax increases.

Those are your headlines this hour.

All right. Spain's EU bailout has been given the green light by German lawmakers. Members of the lower house voted in what was a wide majority to give Spanish banks money from Europe's bailout funds. And with Spanish bond yields topping 7 percent again today, that is a timely intervention.

There are more austerity protests in Madrid tonight. We're going to try and get you live there, now. Al Goodman is standing by for us. And we've just been looking slightly earlier in this show at thousands on the streets of Madrid and, one assumes, in cities all over Spain tonight.

AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID BUREAU CHIEF: Hi, Becky. Well, an estimated 80 cities across Spain, of course Barcelona, the second city, right here in Madrid. This demonstration more than two hours old, and you can still see, the street is quite packed behind me, leading up this way.

Now, they're out here protesting the austerity cuts, protesting the economic crisis, protesting the high rate of unemployment, more than 50 percent for young Spaniards, like our guest, Alejandro Erquicia, 25 years old, three years out of university. What's it like trying to find a job in Spain, now?

ALEJANDRO ERQUICIA, JOB SEEKER: It's very difficult. There aren't job opportunities, and they aren't being created. They want to call us the lost generation, but we want to work. We want our possibilities to be out there.

GOODMAN: You are a dual-national, American and Spanish citizen. You've got a plan, what's that?

ERQUICIA: My plan is to move to the States, as many of my fellow generation, colleagues, we have to go abroad or go to a different country to find jobs there, since here they aren't being created. We have to leave the country.

GOODMAN: Becky, a tough road here for Alejandro and for many of the people here, surely some of them are among the unemployed. Becky?

ANDERSON: All right, Al Goodman in Madrid for you this evening. Protests there on the streets and in cities around the country, Spain struggling to convince investors it can pull itself out of what is this huge economic black hole.

Keep in mind, Spain is the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy, far bigger -- in fact, it's Europe's fourth-biggest economy, far bigger than Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, whose governments have been bailed out.

So, it matters what's going on there. Spain's borrowing costs once again rose today after the government went to the markets to try and raise some much-needed cash with an auction. The interest, well, I can describe it as pretty soggy, I'm afraid. Earlier, I spoke to my colleague Nina Dos Santos about that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pretty soggy it was, Becky. Yes, they went to the bond market and issued another bunch of bonds here. We're talking about $3.7 billion-worth of five-year, two-year, and seven-year securities.

But this is what I want to show you, is that every time Spain goes to the bond markets to issue bonds, its biggest customer has a little bit less left in his pockets and the demand is waning, here.

Because a lot of these Spanish bonds actually end up inside the coffers of those Spanish banks, don't they? And those are the very institutions that need to be bailed out. So, again, we need to see governments like Spain issuing more bonds to bail them out in return.

And each time they go to the markets, the appetite gets a little bit weaker. That's one of the reasons why, although they didn't actually issue ten-year bonds, but remember, ten-years are the benchmark, that in a secondary market went up again to 7 percent.

ANDERSON: It isn't, though, the first time we've seen this crucial 7 percent level on the ten-year debt. But today, certainly, the institution investors around the world, the international investors, are looking to Spain again and saying bad bet. Why is that?

DOS SANTOS: Well, if you look at the 7 percent mark, it's not particularly significant from a numerical point of view, but it is an indication that this country is in trouble.

Because historically, what we've seen is that all of these countries that get above 7 percent, like Greece, Portugal, and Ireland, they stay above 7 percent. And the reason why, when it comes to the issue of Greece, is this.

If you take a look at the exposure to Spain, it is so much bigger for all these countries. Now, this is just a few of the many countries that are exposed -- whose banking systems are exposed to Spain and its banks, but if you take a look at, for instance, Germany, we're talking about an exposure of $146 billion.

ANDERSON: Versus -- exposure to Greek assets of -- it's quite a smaller amount --

DOS SANTOS: It is smaller.

ANDERSON: $13 billion.

DOS SANTOS: But herein lies the catch again, Becky, because remember that that figure includes a haircut. Remember that the Greeks imposed a 50 percent haircut, 75 percent in real terms, on investors.

And what investors have been telling me is that with this 7 percent profile we're seeing for the Spanish ten-year yield, people could be pricing in a similar scenario for Spain. It's a $1.4 trillion economy. It's an awfully big problem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: All right. Well, we're going to take a very short break, here. When we come back, good-bye Big Apple, hello Houston. Linsanity has a new address, and it is deep in the heart of Texas. That and your sports headlines up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Hello, 39 minutes past 9:00 out of London, I'm Becky Anderson for you. For pro basketball fans all over the world, but particularly in New York, Linsanity was fun while it lasted, but Jeremy Lin now has a new team, and it's down in the Lone Star State of Texas.

We talked about this last night, but I know CNN's just grabbed an interview with the boy. Why's he off down there?

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it has a lot to do with the fact that the New York Knicks didn't want to match the contract offer that was given by the Houston Rockets, which is going to earn him $15 million in the third year of his deal, a total of $25 million for the three years.

CNN spoke with Jeremy Lin just a few minutes ago. He's going to hold a press conference down there in Houston to answer a lot of questions. One of the questions that our Mark McKay asked him was, why did you decide to leave New York and head to Houston?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY LIN, HOUSTON ROCKETS GUARD: It's definitely nice to be able to have more job security, and I think -- the thing that I'm really excited about isn't necessarily X amount of dollars. It's the fact that I signed a three-year deal, so I get to play this game in the NBA for three more years.

And at the same time, I don't think it's all about money, but I think that at the same time, how much they put shows their investment and their belief in you as a player. I'm just excited for this opportunity to be able to play basketball and to be able to do it with this team and this organization.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PINTO: Still very humble, Jeremy Lin. You have to take into account that this is a man who was no one just a few months ago. You'll hear a lot more from Jeremy Lin on World Sport in less than an hour's time, a full interview with him. That was just a little snippet of it.

ANDERSON: Yes.

PINTO: But as I was saying, Becky, this is a guy who came out of nowhere, started playing for the Knicks, became a sensation -- overnight sensation. And now in Houston, I think they'll build the team around him, while at the Knicks, they had just signed two other point guards, and he was a little unsure about what his role was going to be.

ANDERSON: This really is the American dream, isn't it?

PINTO: It is.

ANDERSON: And you know --

PINTO: It still happens.

ANDERSON: -- and like you said, a very humble guy. He's hit the big time, big time --

PINTO: He has.

ANDERSON: -- as it were.

PINTO: Now, he's going to get some big, big dollars, as well, to go along with that.

ANDERSON: Amazing stuff. We're going to have to -- what is it? He's been sharing a room with his brother until recently.

PINTO: Yes.

ANDERSON: He can buy his own flat, maybe. Or at least rent his own flat.

PINTO: He was sleeping on a teammate's sofa in the first week he was playing with the Knicks.

ANDERSON: That's unbelievable, isn't it?

PINTO: And now, I don't think he'll need to do that.

ANDERSON: No, he won't. No, he won't. Listen, you and I are looking forward to the Olympics just -- what is it? -- eight or nine days away, now, in London.

PINTO: Yes.

ANDERSON: One athlete who won't be here is Spain's Rafa Nadal. Today, just hours ago, pulling out of the event. Why?

PINTO: Yes, it was a little surprising. He released a statement saying he wouldn't be able to compete in London because of a knee injury. And it's an old story for Rafa Nadal, unfortunately for him. It's tendonitis in his knees, which flares up, he needs to rest, he needs to do physical therapy.

And today was just the cut-off point of deciding whether he had enough time to recover to be at 100 percent or not. In his statement, he said it was one of the saddest moments of his career, also because he was supposed to be the flag bearer for Spain in the Opening Ceremony.

He added that he didn't want to be selfish and come to London knowing that he wouldn't be able to win and denying the opportunity of a fellow Spaniard who was in better condition to play. So, it's definitely a big, big miss for the Olympics. A lot of tennis fans will be disappointed.

ANDERSON: Yes, and that's what he said today, and I buy that completely. And the guy's got to get fit. And when you're at that level, you may have to miss a tournament, I suppose.

But some people are tweeting today that he's not that good and grass at the end of the day. The Olympics, so far as tennis stars are concerned, isn't the biggest tournament in their schedule, as it were. And is he getting himself ready for the US Open? What do you think?

PINTO: I think that there are a few factors that might play into this decision. The first is that he's not at 100 percent. Let's take that as a given. We're not doubting that. The fact that he struggled at Wimbledon here last month, losing in the second round to a guy who was ranked 100 in the world, obviously played on his mind.

And the US Open is just a couple of months away. Just imagine if he would've come to London, he would've lost in the first or second round. The mental aspect of tennis is so important to these players that it could have taken away the confidence that he would have had for the rest of the season.

And as far as the gold medal is concerned, he won that in Beijing, so he's got that check on his list. So, yes, maybe he had more to lose than to gain by coming here and becoming not only more injured in his knees --

ANDERSON: Yes.

PINTO: -- but losing the confidence he needs.

ANDERSON: I don't doubt, though, he will be disappointed that he's not carrying that flag, because for any athlete, you and I know, that's such a big deal, isn't it, in the end?

PINTO: And he's an emotional guy. I've spent some time with Rafa -- I'm actually flying out to America tomorrow --

ANDERSON: Sure.

PINTO: -- going to spend some time with him this weekend, and we'll talk about this, I'm sure. Also about the rest of his season. He's such an emotional guy. He's so proud to be Spanish. He's loved helping Spain win the David Cup a couple of times that he'll be especially disappointed about that, I think.

ANDERSON: Yes, across Spain, let me tell you, I was in Manacor once during Wimbledon, I think, when he was having a particularly good tournament. You cannot move in the bars for those guys when you go in. He is the biggest thing, as we would say.

PINTO: Yes. He's a living legend there.

ANDERSON: He's a living legend. And what a good guy as well.

PINTO: Yes.

ANDERSON: Enjoy the interview this weekend.

PINTO: I will.

ANDERSON: I will see you Monday.

PINTO: Yes.

ANDERSON: Pedro Pinto in the house, back in about 45 minutes "World Sport" tonight. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Four years ago, Beijing, of course, was all fired up. So, does the city still carry a torch for its Olympic Games? That after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: If you've been with us all week, you'll know that you and us -- we have got our Eye on Kazakhstan. Let me get the camera right, as well. What is wrong with me?

Already the largest economy in central Asia and predicted to grow by another 6 percent this year alone, Kazakhstan is driven by exports of oil and metals, its great trade that most countries can only dream of, isn't it? And as Fredrik Pleitgen reports, it is now looking to boost its economy even further. Have a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(COW MOOS)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are Black Angus cattle, but we're not in the Australian outback. This is northern Kazakhstan, where Maksut Baktibayev is breeding the animals to build a beef industry.

MAKSUT BAKTIBAYEV, CATTLE FARMER: Doing some livestock requires some kind of long-term investments and requires some technology and requires employees which are ready to work with you. But -- and this is the challenge we've got now.

PLEITGEN: A massive challenge in a country that has virtually no cattle farming infrastructure to speak of. In the days of Communism, Kazakhstan was one of the main beef producers in the Soviet Union. But after independence in 1991, almost all industrial cattle farming disappeared.

PLEITGEN (on camera): Kazakhstan's new cattle industry is still in its infancy, but the long-term goal is to make this an export industry. To do that, the country is building a stock of breeding cattle and a workforce to take care of them.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Most of the animals on this farm were flown in from Australia, Canada, and the US.

(COW MOOS)

PLEITGEN: They recently had their first calves, bringing the total number of cattle here to almost 2,000. And the farm has also imported some foreign help.

Jacob Schubert is from Nebraska in the US. An experienced cattle farmer, he's trying to help introduce western technology and methods of farm management.

PLEITGEN (on camera): If you had to say that this would be like the American industry, in what year would we be?

JACOB SCHUBERT, CATTLE FARMER: I would say about 1920. 1920s or 30s. But we do have a lot more potential to grow very fast here, because we can import the excellent genetics, we can import all the technology. So, we have the chance to jump ahead 100 years in -- what took America 100 years to do we should be able to do in 15 years.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Other factors also play a role, though, like the extreme cold winter. With temperatures dropping under 30 degrees below freezing, the Kazakhs needed to import cattle that can take extreme temperatures.

But the country has a long tradition as a farming nation. It's the world's 6th largest exporter of wheat, and fields are abundant in the vast plains in the north.

Kazakhstan has recently put in place a national plan to not only increase its agricultural output, but also the quality of the product produced here.

MUSLIM UMIRYAYEV, DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE: The main issue for us is the ternary. Because if we want to be an exporter, we have to be sure and we have to assure other countries that the ternary control and food security is proper in Kazakhstan.

PLEITGEN: People like Maksut Baktibayev are pioneers in Kazakhstan's new quest to become a cattle-farming nation. The government is helping him with easy, low-interest loans in the hope that these Black Angus might be the nucleus of a whole new branch of this country's economy.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Azat, Kazakhstan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. From strikes to security shortfalls, the organizers of the London Olympics have certainly had their fair share of teething troubles, haven't they? But it does remain to be seen whether they will define the Games in years to come.

All this week, we've been looking at the legacies of past Olympics, from the bankrupting Montreal Games to the reinvention of Barcelona, and yesterday, Atlanta, an Olympics touched by terror.

Well, today it's the turn of Beijing, the last city to host the Games, of course, back in 2008. And as Stan Grant now reports, four years on, the Olympic spirit, it seems, is still going strong.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The eyes of the world were fixed right here. This is the fabled Bird's Nest, the stadium of the Beijing Olympics, a place of dreams that now hold so many memories. And four years later, the people are still coming.

GRANT (voice-over): "It's a memory that will last forever," he says. "It made China greater and stronger."

On giant screens around the stadium, those magical moments live on. The Grand Opening Ceremony, the lighting of the cauldron and, of course, those extraordinary athletes.

TRACEY HOLMES, CCTV ANCHOR: The Olympics brings you everything. There's great passion, there's great tragedy, there's a real sense that the world comes together.

GRANT: Tracey Holmes is a sports broadcaster for China Central Television. For various international networks, she has covered nine Olympics, Winter and Summer. She's doing here PhD on the Olympics and politics.

HOLMES: When people talk about politics and sport not mixing, well, I think they don't understand the Olympic Games. It's all about politics. And it's all about making changes in a country.

GRANT: China's Olympic Games was a political statement, she says. "One World, One Dream," that was the official Games slogan. But this was China's world, a coming out party for an emerging superpower. The cost of all this, officially $15 billion. Unofficially, three times higher, an expensive public relations campaign.

HOLMES: There were lots of negative images surrounding Beijing and China before 2008. And now, when you look at the images that are shown, it's of modern cities, it's of new infrastructure, it's of winning and glory and power.

GRANT: One of the winners was not even on the track or in the pool. Gao Xin was a sports marketing graduate who heard about the so-called green Olympics and saw big bucks. He formed an irrigation company, bid for the contract to water the Olympic Park and stadium, and found his fortune.

"It was a 30 million yuan bid, $4 million," he says. "Winning the project laid the foundation for our company." He now has contracts all over China, his company turning over millions of dollars a year.

All of Beijing's Olympic venues are still in good use. The Bird's Nest stadium is a tourist attraction, the Water Cube has been transformed into a water park, drawing people in the thousands. China is still celebrating. China's influence and power continues to grow. It topped the medal tally in 2008, the most dominant sporting nation on Earth.

But for all the glory, one painful image remains: the pride of China, at the time the reigning world and Olympic 110 meters hurdle champion Liu Xiang, limping off the track, crippled by injury. His anguished face is still beamed around the stadium.

This is China's unfinished business: Liu Xiang's bid to win the gold medal in London that eluded him in Beijing.

"I've come to see this stadium. I can see Liu Xiang running. Even though he didn't, I still feel he did. We Chinese are proud of this."

GRANT (on camera): So, the Beijing Olympics are really just a memory now. Of course, what remains is this magnificent stadium. The torch is being passed to London, full steam ahead, London 2012.

Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: That's right. And seven days and counting. In tonight's Parting Shots, there's an old saying, you get what you pay for. Well, when it comes to getting a tattoo, it's probably wise to invest a little more.

Jerri Peterson had the rare honor of carrying the Olympic torch last month, a moment she says was so special, it was worthy of getting inked. When she arrived back in the US, she paid $10 to have "Olympic Torch Bearer" emblazoned on her arm.

No spell check, though, at that tattoo parlor, ending up as an "Oylmpic Torch Bearer," sadly, instead. She's a good sport, though, saying she's still laughing at the mistake. And there it is in all its glory.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you for watching. The headlines after this.

END