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CONNECT THE WORLD

U.S. Hands Over Bagram Prison to Afghanistan; Andy Murray Battles Novak Djokovic For U.S. Open Championship

Aired September 10, 2012 - 16:00   ET

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


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World, the tragic human costs of the EuroZone crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't care about...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: One woman's anger and pain after her husband committed suicide over a tax bill.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

FOSTER: As one of the world's leading financiers calls on Germany to lead or leave the EuroZone, CNN kicks off a series of reports on how this crisis is shattering people's lives.

Also tonight, the U.S. hands over control of a controversial prison to the Afghans, why some still fear it could become a mini Guantanamo.

And, Team GB's victory parade: thousands gather in London to celebrate a sporting summer like no other.

Step up or step our of the way, that's the choice that Germany should make, according to one of the world's most renowned financiers. George Soros issued his challenge just days before Germany's constitutional court issues a crucial verdict, one which could throw the future of the EuroZone's bailout funded out. Yet, regardless of the outcome, Soros believes it's time for the blocs biggest creditor to take charge of the crisis or leave the single currency for good.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE SOROS, INTERNATIONAL FINANCIER: I think Germany should either lead in developing a growth policy, a political union, and burden sharing, except the cost of leadership, or leave to an amicable arrangement that would preserve the European Union.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, Soros fears that the current policies of bailouts and cuts are created a two tier Europe: the haves like Germany and the have nots. Southern countries like Greece and Italy are mired in debt and crippled by high costs of borrowing, yet while politicians search for a solution its citizens are suffering.

All this week we're going to bring you some of their stories as we look to the future of Europe. We begin in Italy where Ben Wedeman reports on two men who felt their only escape was to take their own lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tiziana reads aloud the final lines of the last note written by her husband of 27 years Giuseppe. Six months ago, Giuseppe doused himself and his car with gasoline and lit himself on fire outside a Bologna tax office. He died nine days later.

TIZIANA MARRONE, WIDOW: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WEDEMAN: "I found a receipt among his things," Tiziana recalls, "he had bought on my birthday, and this is what really hurts, he bought two 15 liter Jerry cans and a funnel, 30 liters of gasoline."

Giuseppe, a brick layer, committed suicide when he was unable to pay a tax bill, perhaps out of pride, perhaps shame, he never mentioned anything to his wife.

MARRONE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WEDEMAN: "He was a good person," she says. "He wasn't given the chance to redeem himself, because that's what he wanted to do. If Giuseppe had had the chance, he would have paid his debt.

For decades, it was common for Italians to avoid paying their full taxes, but with the financial crisis, tax collection has become more aggressive. Mounting tax troubles and financial hardship, have driven some to take their lives. Other statistics are hard to come by, one Italian small business association claims suicide is related to economic hardship are twice what they were 10 years ago.

Every day, Italian newspapers are full of stories about the spread, interest rates, stock markets, but often times forgotten in the story are people like Giuseppe Compenelo (ph), an ordinary person who cracked under extraordinary circumstances.

Another was 59-year-old Rome businessman Mario Frasacco (ph), who shot himself in the chest last April. His daughter, Giorgia, worked with him and knew he was having financial difficulties, but hadn't the slightest hint he was contemplating suicide.

GIORGIA FRASACCO, DAUGHTER: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WEDEMAN: "The day before he killed himself," she recalls, "I said good-bye to him as I always did before going home. He was smiling, joking. I never read in his eyes any discomfort that would lead to this. After five months I can't find a justification for what he did."

The factory, which produced aluminum fittings is padlocked, its 10 workers now unemployed.

Giorgia blames a government determined to maximize revenues and cut spending regardless of the human cost.

FRASACCO: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGAUGE)

WEDEMAN: "It's as if this government is an extraterrestrial," she says. "It doesn't take into account the problematic situation of the people. And it does nothing despite the constant appeals for help." He was in the burn unit for nine days, right?

Tiziana, who grew up in Australia, agrees.

After your husband died, did you get any sympathy or understanding or assistance from the state?

MARRONE: From nobody. I've got my family. I've got my friends. I've got (inaudible). I've got people that doesn't know me. From these people I've got -- they understand what I'm -- what I'm promising (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

WEDEMAN: Going through.

MARRONE: Going through. But the government, (inaudible), nobody that care about us. They don't care about us.

WEDEMAN: But when her anger rises, she switches back into Italian.

MARRONE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WEDEMAN: "Who will hire me at 48 years old, nearly 49? Who?" She demands. "Where can I go? Should I become a prostitute? Because that's where they're taking us to. Or should I commit suicide and just get out of the way and be one less problem for the government."

Tiziana has joined with other women whose husbands took their lives to form a group called the Deto Ve Biance (ph), the White Widows, to show that in this long, drawn out economic crisis the cost cannot be calculated on a tax form.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Torevecia Tiatina (ph), Italy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, this is a crucial week in the EuroZone crisis. And right now, Greece's creditors are in Athens to decide whether the country has done enough to receive more money from its bailout. But already it seems talks have got off to a rocky start with a senior Greek official telling Reuters that the so-called troika has rejected parts of the Greece government's latest austerity program. Then on Wednesday, Germany's constitutional court has the power to cause that major upset when it's expected to rule on the legality of the blocs permanent rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, but that decision could now be delayed.

That same day, the European commission presents its plan for a so- called banking union. It would put the European Central Bank in charge of supervising all lenders in the euro area. And with all this uncertainty you might expect a few market jitters, but there was little sign of nervousness today. Many markets closing down, but only by a fraction. Instead, it seems investors are still buoyed by the European Central Bank's plans announced last week to buy up the sovereign bonds of struggling countries.

Earlier I spoke to Mohamed el-Erian. He's the CEO of PIMCO, one of the world's biggest bond investors. But when he speaks, the markets listen. So here is why he thinks the central bank got it so right.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CEO, PIMCO: So a few things that were impressive. One is that Mario Draghi and his colleague somehow balanced what the creditors were looking for, which is conditionality, with what the debtors are looking for, which is financing. And he managed to strike that balance enough to go forward.

Secondly, the word unlimited is impressive for markets. And they committed to unlimited support for countries that do certain things. And finally, it was the willingness to move ahead of the political process. Remember, this week we have the constitutional ruling out of Germany and there was the ECB willing to take a step ahead of that.

So the message to the market was very clear, that the ECB is willing to do what's necessary as long as, and that's critical, Max, as long as others do what they need to do.

FOSTER: Wasn't the message to the markets, to people like you, that actually we're pandering to you and responding to you, which they shouldn't really be doing, should they?

EL-ERIAN: Yeah, I mean, what they really should be doing is asking the question what requires to be put in place, what's required to put in place to promote growth, jobs, and financial stability. Part of that is to crowd in, to bring in private capital, because the problem in Europe, Max, is not just governments not raising funding, but it's also companies who employ not getting funding.

So if the ECB and European countries can crowd in, bring in the private sector, you increase the probability of success. And I think that this is how ultimately one can judge the success of the policy response. Are you bringing in capital to companies, to households that need it in order to produce and employ?

FOSTER: OK. Obviously a very busy week in terms of policy making and politics, really, around the EuroZone. We've talked a bit about it on the program, but is there anything there that can set things off course on the markets after such a positive start to the week?

EL-ERIAN: OK. So the most concerning to me is what happens in Greece. The other issue is the constitutional court ruling in Germany and whether Spain requests aid or not I think that's resolved.

The big issue is does Greece find a way of convincing its creditors in a credible fashion that they have a plan to deal with their problems. And I think this is a really complicated issue. And I don't see an easy answer to it.

FOSTER: The whole Euro issue is very complicated. And you're all trying to find answers. And George Soros, like you, is a very big name. People do listen to him. His suggestion of getting tough of Germany, what's your view on that?

EL-ERIAN: So what Mr. Soros is doing in saying, look, rather than worry about the debtors or the balance between the creditors or the debtors, it's up to the creditor, it's up to the biggest creditor Germany, to quote him, either to lead or leave.

Lead in the sense of providing a lot of financing to the rest of the zone and also being more expansionary and buying more things from the rest of the zone or leave.

I think that that is one way of putting it. And it focuses the issue on the creditors have a responsibility as much as the debtor.

But I don't think it's an either/or, Max. I think it's both have to come together and they have to come together in a realistic fashion that provides enough self assurances. Neither side, unfortunately, can deliver a good outcome. They can only deliver a good outcome by coming together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, that was one of the world's biggest bond investors, Mohamed el-Erian speaking to me earlier.

And a reminder that all this week CNN is taking a look at the future of Europe through those most affected by the decisions being made: the workers, the small business owners, the pensioners, and the unemployed. That's all this week right here on CNN.

Now still to come tonight, Afghanistan's president calls it a victory for sovereignty: U.S. troops hand over controversial prison. But some say the move is more symbolic than substantive.

The Iraqi vice president speaks out from exile in Turkey against being sentenced to death by an Iraqi court.

And the mystery of the British-Iraqi family shot in France deepens as police evacuate residence near their home and call in the bomb squad. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: This is just coming in to CNN from the U.S. presidential campaign. And the results of the first poll we've conducted following the big political conventions. And on the question of who you would be more likely to vote for, American's at least, 52 percent backed President Barack Obama. That's a 4 percent bounce following the convention.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney slips to 46 percent. But when you factor in the margin of error, you still have a very, very tight race. We'll have more on that and what it means in the hours ahead for you.

In other news, the Yemeni government says it's killed one of al Qaeda's top leaders. The country's defense ministry says Said al-Shihri was taken out along with six other militants during an army operation. Al- Shihri is the second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And officials are now waiting for DNA confirmation. If confirmed, some analysts say it would be a major blow against al Qaeda.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai says it was once an ominous symbol of terror, but will now become, quote, an ordinary detention facility. U.S. troops handed over the controversial prison at Bagram Air Base today. Afghans are now in charge of thousands of detainees, but hundreds of others are still in U.S. custody.

Let's bring in Anna Coren to tell us why. She's live in Kabul.

Anna, it's not as clear as it seems this story, is it?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Max. On the surface it seems like everyone is playing nice, but beneath the surface it is a completely different story. You mentioned the transfer from U.S. forces to Afghan control of some 3,100 prisoners. That took place today. But the Americans are holding onto 34 highly valued detainees, those being members of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and also the Haqqani Network of course. It was just a few days ago that the Haqqani Network was listed as a terrorist organization.

The Americans are also hanging on control of 600 other prisoners that they have detained as of March this year. Now the memorandum of understanding, if you like, was signed between Afghanistan and America in March, but since then, America has taken into custody some 600 detainees. So they are also under the American control.

Now, Max, the reason this hasn't been a full transfer is because the Americans want certain guarantees that basically these prisoners, these highly valued detainees, will not end up free, free roaming around the public. The concern is that once the foreign forces leave that the Afghans will revert to the criminal justice system and that due to political interference or corruption, which as we know is rife in this country. Some of these prisoners could go free. So Americans want guarantees before that full transfer takes place.

FOSTER: Anna, thank you very much indeed for joining us in Kabul. And coming up in around 10 minutes time, the former British Ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir William Patey on the significance of this handover. And we'll talk live to Vali Nasr who is a former adviser to the U.S. government on Afghanistan, his outlook on the future for Afghanistan and the role talking to the Taliban should play. All that coming up right here on Connect the World.

Here's a look now at some other stories we're following for you tonight. The Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi has said the death sentence he has received from a Baghdad court is unjust. Al-Hashimi was found guilty in absentia of overseeing death squads that carried out more than 150 attacks. Speaking from Turkey, the Sunni politician said the charges were political and urged his supporters not to respond with violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TARIQ AL-HASHIMI, IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT: I totally reject and will never recognize the unfair, the unjust, the politically motivated verdict, which was expected from the outset of the funny trial. I consider the verdict a medal on my chest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Police still don't have a motive in the murder mystery that's gripping France. Earlier today outside London, a British bomb squad searched the home of a couple killed in the Alps. Police say they found suspicious items, but nothing dangerous. And they still don't know why the family was targeted. Meanwhile, investigators have held a brief conversation with the couple's seven year old daughter who was injured, but survived the shooting and has now regained consciousness.

Now Somalia swore in a new president today, Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud (ph) defeated the outgoing president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (ph) seen here. Mahmoud (ph) was elected president after the new parliament held a ballot consisting of around two dozen candidates. The move is an attempt to set up the country's first stable government in 21 years.

Striking miners in South Africa have been marching in defiance of a deadline set by the Lonmin mining company. The miners are demanding wage increases. And negotiations were set to resume at noon on Monday, but only if the miners returned to work.

15,000 miners have been striking at another mine near Johannesburg. So far, protests have been peaceful. In August, 44 people killed, though, and scores more injured in clashes with police at the Lonmin mine in Marikana.

We're going to take you to short break now. But when we come back, could this be the day that a British man finally wins a tennis major? We'll preview Andy Murray's chances next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're watching Connect the World live from London. Welcome back. I'm Max Foster.

Now for the fifth straight year, the U.S. Open tennis tournament is ending a day late. The men's final is just getting underway. At this hour, we'll bring in Don Riddell who is there for us in New York. Hi, Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Max. Yeah, it really is an intriguing final in prospect. They've just started a couple of minutes ago. I'll tell you how it's going shortly. But, you know, these two players are arguably two of the most exciting players on the men's tour right now.

Of course Djokovic is the defending champion here. He's had a brilliant season, especially on the hard courts. And he's up against Murray, the Olympic champion, the Wimbledon finalist and a man who is looking for his first grand slam title. He's played in four finals already and he hasn't won any of them. Djokovic on the other hand already has five slam titles to his name.

Now these two are becoming two of the biggest rivals in the sport at the moment, if not the greatest rivalry in tennis right now. They've known each other for years. They've been playing each other since they were 11 years old. They know their games inside, out. They're pretty good friends off the court as well. And Djokovic has been talking about what their rivalry is like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC, TENNIS PLAYER: We're big rivals. And we have been in top of the men's game for a long time so we know each other really well and the last match he has won an Olympic games, also a close one. But it's a different surface obviously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIDDELL: Now, Max, that is a shot of the United States flag, the star-spangled banner above the Arthur Ashe stadium. And as you can see, it's being blown around quite a bit. And I'm showing you that because that is relevant. This match has just started. They're in the fourth game. And it's very, very windy down at court level. And that, I think, is going to play a huge factor in the game.

I tell you what, the first seven points in this match went against serve. Murray broke Djokovic in the first game, then Djokovic broke back immediately. Djokovic has just held serve to go 2-1 up, but I can tell you that Djokovic looks really uncomfortable. Remember, they both played in semifinals on Saturday in the wind. Murray definitely had the better of it. He mastered the wind much better in his match, in his semifinal match against Tomas Berdych whereas I can tell you that Djokovic looked really uncomfortable on Saturday and he looks really uncomfortable now.

So the weather here could play a factor, could be a factor in this final.

FOSTER: Yeah, well he's from Scotland. I guess that's one of the factors, isn't it? Pretty windy place.

In terms of Serena Williams on Sunday, great performance, but how are you rating her on the long-term?

RIDDELL: Well, you know, she was already one of the all-time greats. I think the way she came through this tournament yesterday and won. She really had to grind out that victory. She's been on fire since the French Open in May. She's only lost one match in that time. And she now has 15 grand slam titles.

So for starters, she's getting very, very close to the all-time record of 18 grand slam titles which is held by Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. They've admitted they don't like the fact that she's getting close.

She's now won this tournament in three different decades. It's 13 years since her first U.S. Open title and her last. She was one of the youngest to win it back 13 years ago. She's one of the oldest to win it now. So I mean she clearly is establishing an incredible legacy. She's proved that she's got terrific longevity. Every time she has a blip or something goes wrong in her life, she always seems to come back bigger and better and stronger. And she's not quitting the game any time soon.

So I think -- I think she will be one of the all-time greats. Victoria Azarenka who she beat in the final on Sunday said she already is the greatest of all-time.

FOSTER: Don Riddell, thank you.

As ever, CNN will keep you up to date on the grand slam final in New York, the windy place that it is. Don is back in World Sport in just over 60 Minutes for us.

Still to come on Connect the World, though, it's being called the Guantanamo Bay of Afghanistan, but now the prison at Bagram Air Base sees a changing of the guard. We'll get some perspective on today's formal handover.

A carnival atmosphere in the British capital as thousands packed the streets of London to celebrate their country's achievements in the Olympic and Parlympic games.

And what happened when President Obama met this registered Republican? All that and more when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Max Foster, and these are the latest world headlines from CNN.

Yemen's government says its forces have killed one of al Qaeda's leaders along with six others. Saudi Arabia national Saeed al-Shihri is described as the second-in-command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Officials are now waiting for DNA confirmation that the body is that of al- Shihri.

The Afghan flag is now flying over the prison at Bagram Air Base. US troops formally handed over control of the detention facility today, but they're retaining custody of hundreds of inmates until undisclosed conditions are met.

Amateur video appears to show a tank exploding in Aleppo in Syria as an opposition group reports at least 110 deaths today nationwide. The UN's human rights chief says executions and torture are becoming the norm in Syria, and she's pushing for the International Criminal Court to take action.

And Britain has honored its athletes from this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games. They took part in a parade from St. Paul's Cathedral to Buckingham Palace in London. More on that parade a little later in the show.

Let's return, now, to the handover of the prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. We talked earlier with former British ambassador to Afghanistan, William Patey. He explained why US forces are reluctant to give up control of some detainees.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM PATEY, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN: You have a bunch of hard-core terrorists, against whom you don't necessarily have the evidential base to prosecute them in a court of law. If you did, you'd be able to prosecute them in Afghanistan.

But in the absence of that, you've still got enough information to say these are dangerous people who, if released, would return to the -- to terrorism. So, you -- I'm not sure -- in the same way as it was difficult to resolve Guantanamo, this is a hard nut to crack.

FOSTER: So, the headline that Bagram Prison is being handed over to the Afghan authorities actually isn't as --

(CROSSTALK)

PATEY: Well, it's important --

FOSTER: -- truthful as it looks.

PATEY: Well, it's not the whole picture. But it is an important development. It is important that Afghans are taking control of detention facilities of Afghans, and that process will be complete before the American -- before the ISAF combat troops withdraw. So, it is important, but it's not the whole picture.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, the prison handover is part of a NATO pledge to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan and transfer all security operations by the end of 2014. It's a very ambitious goal, made even more challenging by growing violence across the country. Here's Anna Coren again with our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the foothills of Sayedabad in central Afghanistan, smoke rises from an army outpost. These smoldering ruins signal the end of a battle the Taliban claims to have won.

They say US forces handed over this post in Wardak Province to the Afghan National Army back in July. And that after weeks of relentless fighting, the Taliban forced the army troops to flee, and the outpost is now under Taliban control.

The spokesman for coalition forces dismisses such claims, saying that while the transfer of power is happening, there's no evidence to suggest Afghan forces are losing ground.

BUNTER KATZ, BRIGADIER GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCE: This was sheer propaganda, and this is one of the few things that are left for the Taliban.

COREN: But violence is on the rise across this war-ravaged country, making the transition that much more difficult. Under Mount Darul Aman on the outskirts of Kabul, in between the ruins of the kings' and queens' palaces, destroyed during the civil war that followed the Soviet occupation, is the training headquarters for the Afghan National Army, often referred to as the ANA.

It's here where army recruits learn the skills to fight the insurgency. They used to be under the guidance of the British Army. Now, Brigadier Richard Dennis, the deputy commander of NATO's training mission, is here as a guest.

RICHARD DENNIS, BRIGADIER, DEPUTY NATO COMMANDER, NATO TRAINING MISSION: The Afghan National Army is doing better than we thought they would and better than they thought they could. And what you see behind me, here, is the evidence of that.

COREN (on camera): While these training schools, which are now 90 percent Afghan-led are a positive sign this transition is working, there are serious concerns whether the Afghan forces, both army and police, will be ready to take over their nation's security after the foreign combat troops leave here in 2014.

COREN (voice-over): This spate of green-on-blue attacks -- Afghan troops turning on coalition forces training them -- has only added to the problem. The attacks are to blame for 45 deaths so far this year, compared with a total of 35 for all of 2011.

DENNIS: There has been so much good work done here. But while these are tragic incidents, they are certainly not going to derail the process.

COREN: But they are taking their toll.

"Everyone is concerned about this," says the head of the police academy, Nwarz Khaliq. "It's having a very negative effect. People won't trust the police or the army."

The US forces hare suspended training of police recruits while the revetting process is carried out. And while the Taliban is believed responsible for some of these insider attacks, the coalition is certain the transition remains on track.

KATZ: We are confident that we will be able to hand over the security responsibility to our Afghan partners by the end of 2014. We are not there yet. But we are on a good progress.

COREN: But the Taliban can be expected to continue trying to undermine this progress over the next 27 months.

Anna Coren, CNN, Kabul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, given what we've just seen, what are the prospects for Afghanistan's future? Let's ask Vali Nasr. He's a former US State Department advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan. He's also dean of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. Thank you so much for joining us.

How optimistic do you think we should be about the drawdown? Because seem to be so many negative things to say, but where do we stand in the process?

VALI NASR, FORMER US STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISOR ON AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN: Well, the process is on track. What we're seeing is that the escalation of violence does not support many of the assumptions that we put on the table that the Afghan National Army is going to be able to control territory, it's going to be able to beat back the Taliban, and that we can give the Afghan population a sense of security that the Taliban will not be taking over vast areas of the country as we draw down.

FOSTER: In terms of the Taliban, an interesting report today from a think tank here in the United Kingdom suggesting that relinquishing ties with al Qaeda could be a way ahead, and then they could engage in talks. Is there -- how much truth is there in that, and how much impact could it have?

NASR: Well, it's -- that has been on the table for the past three, four years. It's been a condition that the United States put down before the Taliban, before any talks, first it was a precondition, and then later on, it was put down as a requirement of a successful conclusion of talks.

But the problem is that the United States and the Taliban have not been able to actually start talks, so we could see whether or not the Taliban can be tested as to whether they're willing to deliver on breaking with al Qaeda.

So, the prospect of breaking with al Qaeda is always there, it's what the United States has asked, but we will only find out whether the Taliban are serious if we actually engage in diplomatic negotiations with them, and that has not happened yet.

FOSTER: Is it clear who to deal with in the Taliban? Is the structure, the leadership, there in a proper way that controls the whole of what we call the Taliban?

NASR: I believe so. For a very long time, we ourselves identified the Quetta Shura and Mullah Omar as the key decision-makers, and it seems to me that that has not changed. However, periodically, we have questioned as to whether Mullah Omar is in charge or whether the Quetta Shura controls the Taliban.

But I think the realities have not changed since this process started. We're still dealing with the same Taliban that we have been dealing for the past three, four years.

FOSTER: Vali Nasr, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, striking images from Syria's front line. We speak to a woman behind the lens about capturing the horrors of war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: The UN's human rights chief says mass killings and torture have become the norm in Syria, with cases of sexual violence also being reported. She's urging these cases to be brought before the International Criminal Court. This comes as activists report yet another deadly day across the country, with more than 100 people killed.

Meanwhile, new UN-Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, is holding talks in Cairo today ahead of a planned visit to Damascus later this week. Now, Brahimi takes over what he calls his "near-impossible task" from Kofi Annan.

The former head of the UN resigned from his Syrian mission last month after division in the Security Council led to a diplomatic deadlock. He told CNN's Anderson Cooper, the expectations were too high.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOFI ANNAN, FORMER UN-ARAB LEAGUE JOINT ENVOY: It is a no-win situation, and I think part of the problem is our fault in the sense that we have not been able to give people realistic expectations. We have to lower the expectations.

For anyone to have expected the UN to stop the massacre -- I tried through negotiations. We put down the six point plan, we had the political transition agreement in Geneva at the end of May. It was all we could do trying to get people to the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: And you can watch the rest of Kofi Annan's interview on "AC 360" in around four hours' time, that's 1:00 AM London time.

Reporting from within Syria has become extremely difficult due to severe restrictions imposed by the government, but earlier, I spoke to Tracey Shelton, a photographer and Senior Correspondent for the Boston- based "Global Post." Just back from the front lines of battle, she told me of her heartbreaking experience with rebels in Aleppo captured in these striking images.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRACEY SHELTON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, "GLOBAL POST": So, I was staying with them on the front line in Salaheddine just shooting a feature story about their daily life on the front line there. Yes, so I'd been with them a few days at that stage.

FOSTER: And they were in the street doing what exactly? What does this picture show that we're looking at right now?

SHELTON: Well, the first one, they were actually just cleaning up. There'd been a tank attack earlier, and -- but it hadn't actually injured anyone, it hadn't been a direct hit, so -- but it had just put some of the debris across the street. So, they're just cleaning up the street.

FOSTER: And what was the atmosphere like at that point?

SHELTON: One of the most relaxed kind of moments that there had been. They were joking around. Isa (ph), who has the hose in the front of that first photo is spraying water on them, joking, and it was very -- very relaxed kind of scene.

Yes, so when the call came in that there was a tank approaching, that was probably the least prepared I've actually seen them, but even so, it took them a second to grab their weapons and be ready, but that second, the tank had already hit.

FOSTER: So, talk us through the image where we see the blast initially and what you were going through that time as well.

SHELTON: When I heard them saying the tank was coming, I immediately sort of got set up, because that corner is where the action usually happens if there's a tank approaching. Within -- within seconds, the blast came, smoke started covering the area, it went back quite a long way down the street, too.

And from where I was standing, which was just a couple of meters back from them, the debris started coming down also with the smoke cloud, so I had to run back myself. And the man who was injured in the foreground, he ran back also.

So, we just kind of came back and stood behind that cloud of smoke waiting for the other guys to come through, but no one came, and it took a few good minutes for the smoke to clear before we could see what had actually happened.

FOSTER: And what had happened? What had been the impact of that strike?

SHELTON: All three of them had been killed. We couldn't see immediately -- we could see that they were all down on the ground, so it took us -- we had to gradually approach.

Also, we didn't know if the tank was coming back or still there or any of the opposite -- the government soldiers were coming down, so we had to be quite cautious in approaching the scene. But yes, when we did get down there, it was horrible.

FOSTER: What do you think about your safety when you're doing this? And you must count yourself incredibly lucky for surviving that.

SHELTON: Yes, when there is action, when there is something happening, usually what I'm thinking about is just trying to be in the right place, the safest possible, but being able to capture what's going on.

FOSTER: And what about the -- the victims and the families of those involved? Do you have an update about that?

SHELTON: One of the men had three children. He's the younger one -- he's the younger brother as well, so I'm sure their entire family is quite devastated by that. And the older man there had one child, just a newborn child.

I haven't managed to contact them, but what I'd really like to do is when I go back to Aleppo is get in touch with their receiver and see if I can contact their families. I know they were from the city of Mhardeh, which is quite nearby Aleppo in a place I've spent a bit of time myself as well. So, I'd like to go there and see if I can speak to the families and see how they're coping.

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FOSTER: Photographer Tracey Shelton speaking to me.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, we join the parade as thousands pack the streets of London to cheer their Olympic heroes one last time.

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(CROWD CHEERING)

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FOSTER: The end of the party, but not the joy. Acrobats danced, Coldplay sang, and 164 nations waved their flags as the Paralympics Closing Ceremony brought the curtain down on a sport-filled summer here in London.

After a summer of world records, drama, agony, wonder, tears, and a lot of cheering, the party in London has now come to an end. Last night, fireworks lit up the River Thames as the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympics came to a climactic finish.

Now, as life slowly returns to normal for athletes and fans alike, we want to show you some of the moments that made for an unforgettable summer.

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FOSTER: Well today, more than a million people packed the streets to celebrate Team Great Britain with a parade through central London. Hundreds of Olympic and Paralympic athletes snaked their way through the city before finishing up at Buckingham Palace, and many turned to Twitter to share their emotions.

British diver Tom Daley tweeted this today, saying, "So sad that the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are now over. What an amazing few weeks!" he said.

And Paralympian athlete Jonnie Peacock, who won a gold medal at this year's Games, tweeted this photo, saying "You guys are amazing. Thanks for the support." Hash tag #OurGreatestTeam.

Six-time Olympic cycling champion Chris Hoy wrote, "Exciting day ahead. An athletes' parade in London and Andy Murray in the US Open final." We were talking about that earlier with Don, another big day for Britain.

And finally, boxer Luke Campbell, who won gold at London 2012, shared this photo of himself from the parade route a little earlier on today. What an experience.

Well, our own Erin McLaughlin went down there to soak up the atmosphere as well, and her report shows the crowds in no doubt that this was the greatest Games ever.

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ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A parade bursting with national pride. Some 700 British Olympic and Paralympic athletes travel side-by-side for a three-mile journey to Buckingham Palace.

MO FARAH, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: The Games were done brilliant, and to all the people who have volunteered to give up their own time to give us support, so it could not have gone any better than what it has.

SARAH STOREY, PARALYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: All good things have to come to an end, and we've got some incredible memories, and we've worked with some incredible Games-makers. We've had incredible team support. We've had incredible venues, incredible crowds.

(BAND PLAYING)

MCLAUGHLIN: Tens of thousands line the streets of London to say farewell to what many here say is the greatest British team. These athletes won the most medals since 1908.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I just think they're awesome, the Paralympians particularly. It was triumph over adversity. They were just amazingly outstanding, amazingly outstanding. And the actual Olympians, obviously, as well. Incredible, I couldn't do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole world saw how good we are at putting on -- there was so much skepticism before that thing weren't going to work out right, and we've all been proved wrong. Everybody realizes that we've done a fantastic job. I've been so proud to be British.

MCLAUGHLIN: The last stretch of the parade reserved for those that made it all happen: military personnel, coaches, family members, and the Games-makers, the volunteers who are credited with giving London a friendly face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're showing what Great Britain's made of.

MCLAUGHLIN (on camera): This is, perhaps, a fitting end for what's been called a spectacular summer of sport, one that people here say they'll never forget.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): And one last thought from the heavens printed on the underbelly of the same passenger plane that brought the Olympic flame from Greece, a very simple thank you.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.

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FOSTER: Spectacular scenes here in London, but reflected in many cities around the world as people went back to their countries. But tonight, our Parting Shots leave you with a hug -- or should I say, a bear hug?

US president Barack Obama was on the campaign trail in Florida this weekend when he met pizza shop owner Scott Van Duzer. Now, he is -- the registered Republican was clearly excited to meet the Democratic president and gave him a huge embrace, lifting him clear of the floor, in fact. Strong guy.

And the Obama campaign has had a kind of different -- a lift of a different kind as well. For the first time in four months, the president raised more money than his rival Mitt Romney. Officials with Mr. Obama's campaign say he raised more than $114 million in August, that's around $3 million more than the Republican candidate.

I'm Max Foster, that has been CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you so much for watching. The world headlines are up next. We'll have a short break, though, first.

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