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Putin Addresses G-20 Summit; Selling Congress on Syria Strike; "Kerry's Response was Unconvincing"; G-20 Summit Under Way; Interview with Rep. Matt Salmon; NFL Season Kicks Off Tonight

Aired September 5, 2013 - 09:30   ET


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Very important and I'll take the liberty to name them all. I feel that it's (INAUDIBLE). The first one is paso (ph) 3 (ph), including the regulator framework for banks (ph). Secondly, reforms for the off-the-counter (ph) (INAUDIBLE) market. Thirdly, measures with respect to this technically (ph) important financial institutions to carry out such complex reforms. We need to strike compromise between the leading global economies.

It's obvious that national measures on strength and financial stability should not result in high regulatory costs unjustifiably high, particular for foreign participants of financial markets. The call to financial regulation hinges directly upon the efficiency of measures to combat tax evasion. That topic has begun one of the priorities this year against the backdrop of the greater globalization of the global economy.

To efficiently combat improper behavior of taxpayers, the efforts of separate countries are not enough. Every country should strive to create the best possible tax regime (ph) for the business community. But that does not mean that these measures should be used to avoid taxation. As a result of our meeting, we will plan to join action plan on combatting tax based (ph) erosion and profit shifting.

It has been prepared together with the OECD and I would like to thank our colleagues for this work. Without them, we couldn't have achieved such results. The plot -- the plan implies the adoption of our stamps (ph) for greater transparency and improving international agreements in the area of taxation. As outcome, the (INAUDIBLE) practice of profit shifting to the off shores and growth of taxes payment in the (INAUDIBLE) jurisdictions where these trades and services are produced.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's discuss our agenda and discuss trends in the global economy and ways to respond to them. Let's discuss the problems of financial regulation, including the action plan in the area of taxation and reforms of the global financial architecture. Let's agree on the St. Petersburg action plan prepared by the experts.

Thank you for your attention.

In the beginning of this part of our joint work, I would like to give the floor to (INAUDIBLE), which will assess the current state of affairs and the global economy and finances.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we want to explain further what exactly is happening here. This is a work session. One of two that will take place today in St. Petersburg between the leaders of the countries with the 20 largest economies in the world. You can hear Vladimir Putin talking about things like tax evasion and how this is a major problem across his country and it's a problem in many other countries, as well. And there's got to be some solution to catching these tax evaders because it's hurting these countries.

Jill Dougherty is covering the G-20 Summit.

Jill, can you explain further the major concerns that these leaders have about the global economy?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, the main themes are certainly growth and jobs. And we'd have to say that jobs,, in all of these countries, are a big issue. After all, the United States economy is coming back, but jobs are lagging (INAUDIBLE) an issue there in the United States. It's an issue here in Russia, certainly.

And on that tax evasion, it is a big issue here in Russia and in other countries because what happens is people put money offshore, and that happens a lot with Russia, and it's not taxed. That money is out of the country and not doing any good. It's been a continuing problems for Russia and it's one of the top agenda items for Mr. Putin.

COSTELLO: Of course everybody's waiting for the issue of Syria to pop up, but it's likely not to pop up in this working session, am I right?

DOUGHERTY: Yes. You know, it's a little unclear still. They're not saying precisely when it would come up. It may come up in these kind of one-on-one meetings and always brush by meetings but -- that we expect will be taking place. In fact, President Putin and President Obama don't have, as we know, we've been reporting, do not have any type of formal sit down, prepared or scheduled meeting aside (ph) so that there will be anything like that. But that said, they feel on the margins, the American are saying, on the margins of this, they will have a chance to talk.

I think the questions for - to that meeting between Putin and Obama will be, does Putin want, will he press Obama to give to him some really concrete information that hasn't been publicly presented? It would make the case because, after all, that would have to come from intelligence information and the United States and other countries are not willing all the time to give all of the data that they have because it would reveal how they got it. And the Russians have been saying all along, a lot of the truth that the United States is presenting is coming from the opposition. So they denigrate that and say it doesn't really make any difference anyway. But that could be certainly one of the things that Putin would be interested in.

COSTELLO: All right, Jill Dougherty, I know you're monitoring all of this. We'll get back to you. Thank you very much. Jill Dougherty live from St. Petersburg. In the meantime, a plan to authorize a military strike on Syria faces an uncertain battle here at home. President Obama won the first battle, a resolution authorizing a limited military response, passed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a vote of 10-7. But its fate in the House is quite uncertain. Our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, is live now.

Good morning, Chris.


And, yes, while the president travels overseas, his top officials are still here in Washington trying to make the case to Congress to authorize that military action in Syria. In just about 20, 25 minutes from now, there will be the start of one of the last behind the - behind closed doors classified briefing for members of Congress. Sort of a last-ditch attempt to try to close the deal among those who may be on the fence. And this is coming just one day after the secretaries of defense and state faced a very tough crowd at the House.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): This is the hard sell from the inner circle to take action.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter.

LAWRENCE: Laying out the price of not acting --

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: There is absolutely a risk of escalation in the use of chemical weapons if we do nothing.

LAWRENCE: And the cost of air strikes to America.

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It would be in the tens of millions of dollars. That kind of range.

LAWRENCE: One explosive confrontation shows the hard work ahead to win over the House.

REP. JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: But, Mr. Kerry, you have never been one that has advocated for anything other than caution when involving U.S. forces in past conflicts. Is the power of the executive branch so intoxicating that you would abandon past caution in favor for pulling the trigger on a military response so quickly?

KERRY: Because I volunteered to fight for my country and that wasn't a cautious thing to do when I did it.

We're talking about people being killed by gas and you want to go talk about Benghazi and Fast and Furious.

LAWRENCE: Two U.S. Navy ships have left the eastern Med., leaving four destroyers in the waters near Syria. Questions remain, not about the strike itself, but what comes next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we do if they literally shoot back at Americans?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But then who's the other side? Who are the rebel forces?

LAWRENCE: Administration officials say they've kept the Syrian opposition from allying with extremist fighters, but the clock is ticking.

KERRY: And people will resort to anybody they can find to help them accomplish their goal and we would have created more extremism and a greater problem down the road.


LAWRENCE: In the hearing, Kerry was asked if the president himself might do more to communicate with the American people. Perhaps even make a speech one night soon when he's back from Russia. Kerry said that he had no doubt that the president would.


COSTELLO: We'll be awaiting that. Chris Lawrence live for us in Washington.

CNN has been tallying how Congress will vote. So far in the House, 18 Democrats and nine Republicans are backing the president, 23 Democrats and 68 Republicans are against him, and more than 300 lawmakers are either undecided or their feelings are unknown. In the Senate, 17 Democrats and seven Republicans support a strike against Syria, three democrats and 13 Republicans do not, with 58 senators still undecided.

You can see how your lawmaker plans to vote on a strike against Syria. It's easy. Just go to, click on counting votes. You can click through the interactive tally by state, name and comments. The running tally is based on public statements, press releases and, of course, interviews with lawmakers.

One lawmaker who opposes Syria action after hearing from Secretary of State Kerry and others is Congressman Matt Salmon of Arizona. He joins me now from Capitol Hill.

Welcome back, congressman.

REP. MATT SALMON (R), ARIZONA: Thank you. Great to be on the program again.

COSTELLO: Thanks so much for being with us.

You listed several reasons for your opposition, including the lack of partners in the effort. Here's an exchange you had with Secretary Kerry yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SALMON: Why are we looking at a near go it alone military mission? You said in your testimony that there are 34 countries who are with us. What degree are they with us and who are they specifically?

KERRY: I don't have the full list of them here, but the - the -- I've listed a bunch of them. And the Arab League countries have condemned this. A number of them have asked to be part of a military operation. Our -- the Turks, a NATO country, have condemned it, pinned it on Assad, asked to be part of an operation. The French have volunteered to be part of an operation. There are others who have volunteered. But, frankly, and I'll let General, you know, Dempsey speak to this, we got more volunteers than we can use for this kind of an operation.


COSTELLO: So, there you have it, we have more volunteers than we need. Do you believe Secretary Kerry?

SALMON: Well, I -- you know, he could have said, like my kids do when they go to school, the dog ate the homework. He didn't have the list with him. He didn't have a specific tally of who was supporting this effort and what level of commitment they're willing to provide. The fact is, I'm very, very concerned that this looks very, very thin. It looks like unilateral action to me. And I think that entering into this kind of a serious conflict on a go-it-alone strategy is a - is a process I can't support.

COSTELLO: Secretary Kerry also said that Arab nations were willing to foot the bill for any military strike in Syria. Does that make you feel any better?

SALMON: I'll believe that when I see it. To coin a phrase from Ronald Reagan, trust but verify.

COSTELLO: So, you don't believe secretary -- he said there's a deal on the table. He's already talked to Arab leaders and they're quite willing to pay.

SALMON: You know it's -- with all the upheaval over in that part of the world, and a lot of empty promises, I think, that have been made in the past. I'm going to quote now "Jerry Maguire" movie, show me the money.

COSTELLO: On another topic, you've spoken before several Tea Party movement groups. Now another high profile Tea Party lawmaker, Senator Marco Rubio, has come out against the strike. Let's listen.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: While I have long argued forcefully for engagement in empowering the Syrian people, I have never supported the use of military force - of U.S. military force in this conflict and I still don't. I remain unconvinced that the use of force proposed here will work.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: Of course, in the past, Senator Rubio backed arming the rebels and regime change in Syria. But Rubio's constituents see it quite differently and, of course, he's a possible 2016 presidential contender. So, in your mind, is the political price too high to support President Obama's proposal, whatever it may be?

SALMON: Well, a Pew Research poll yesterday showed that a scant 23 percent of the American public support this kind of strike. And I don't think it's about political pressure alone. But history has shown us that when Americans do not believe in the cause that their country is about to engage in, the likelihood for success is diminished greatly. And I think you have to weigh that in consideration.

But, more than that, there are three fundamentals that I think have to be -- have to be met before we involve ourselves in a conflict of this nature. Number one, defining clearly what's at stake for the U.S. Our national security, is it going to be breached if we don't take action? I have not seen a clear answer on that yet. I don't believe that it -- it is imperative to our national security.

Second, what are the rules of engagement and what do we hope to accomplish? Is it possible that we actually escalate the conflict and that there will be more civilian casualties as a result of this type of selective bombing?

And then, finally, you know, what's our -- what's our exit strategy? What's our plan of attack? I don't think any of those questions have been answered adequately for me to support what the president is trying to do.

COSTELLO: But politics always enter in the picture, don't they? They really do. And sometimes politicians have to discard politics and getting re-elected to do what's good for the country.

SALMON: Sometimes -- you know what, sometimes they do. But we are a representative form of government. We represent the people that sent us to Washington, D.C. And we certainly should listen to what they have to say. That's important.

I agree that there are sometimes that you need to just go out and lead and do what you believe is the right thing to do and hope that you can convince the people to follow. But, right now, I don't think that this administration has provided a very, very winning argument or series of arguments that we should engage in this conflict. I think that others like Marco Rubio, you know, he's somebody I have great respect for. I think he's articulated a very thoughtful message of arming the rebels, but not involving a military strike by our armed forces. Yesterday Tom Friedman in the --

COSTELLO: But would you be for that? Would you be for arming the rebels if we don't strike militarily?

SALMON: I would support arming the rebels long before I would support any kind of a military strike because I believe that if we do that, we're all in. And if the President secures permission or acquiescence from Congress to go ahead with a military strike, I believe that this will escalate into something that we don't intend it to be.

COSTELLO: Congressman Matt Salmon of Arizona thank you so much for being with me this morning.

SALMON: Thank you.


COSTELLO: Just about an hour and a half ago the G-20 summit officially began. And let me take you back to St. Petersburg because what a spectacle it was. It's taking place at this beautiful Russian palace built for a czar now used by President Putin. President Putin standing in front of that palace greeting world leaders as they came -- as they came up in their limousines to enter the palace.

You see, this is President Obama's car and we know that because of the American flag on front of course. And you can see President Obama -- he's going to get out of the car. And everybody was awaiting this moment like what would the reaction be when the two men looked one another in the eye because, frankly, they're not the best of friends. But as you see, it turned out quite cordial.

Our Phil Black is live in Moscow. He is watching the proceedings from there. And -- it seemed like no big thing.


It seemed pretty warm really. I guess these two leaders had a sense of the expectation that was approaching this moment. They had some time to think about it. Perhaps prepare. And so when the time came, went out of their way to make sure there was an extra little pump in their handshake and a little bit of an extra grin and a very warm smile there as well. Certainly I think a lot warmer than the world was expecting given the differences that have divided these two leaders over the last 18 months or so but especially more recently over the issue of Syria.

We've seen these two leaders really fighting quite passionately in their corners over their different positions. President Obama in favor of military action to punish the Syrian government for using chemical weapons; President Putin effectively calling that sort of talk war mongering, accusing the United States of potentially an act of aggression and likening it very much to the build-up to the war in Iraq ten years ago saying that then as now it appears that the United States is trying to sell a war using untrustworthy intelligence.

So a lot of differences on Syria and other issues, as well but for that brief moment when they finally came face-to-face, they kept it pretty well hidden -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Hey at least they're putting on a good show. Maybe it will make people feel a little better. But you're right -- very stark differences remain. Phil Black thank you so much, we'll get back to you in a little bit.

We're back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: There is what some might call a controversial image hanging outside of Denver Stadium for the NFL opening game. Yes, the opening game of the NFL is tonight. Take a look. The NFL put up this -- put up humongous banners of two quarterbacks playing tonight. Broncos fans were pretty darn angry about Baltimore's Joe Flacco getting the star treatment, even starting a petition to get this banner taken down.

Flacco, as you recall, helped the Ravens crush the Broncos' playoff dreams last season. It's a brand new season, and CNN's Rachel Nichols is in Denver for tonight's game. So Rachel, what's the mood even though it's very early in the morning in Denver?

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: Yes, we're expecting a crazy crowd here tonight supporting Peyton Manning and the Broncos. And Carol, I'm just going to put it right here: 37 years old, that's what Peyton is. That is not old in real life terms. But I got to say, in NFL quarterback terms, that's kind of putting him into senior citizen status, his window is closing. He knows it.

The last quarterback to win a Super Bowl at 37 was actually in this town, John Elway, 16 years ago. That will be a big, big topic tonight.

And then the Ravens, speaking of the window closing, an icon in the NFL the past two decades, Ray Lewis, he is retired now. It's the first time in Baltimore's franchise history they will be taking the field without him tonight.

Lots to talk about, and I got to say that makes Commissioner Roger Goodell very happy that we're talking about stories that are finally happening on the field.


NICHOLS: Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning won't be the only one on the offensive tonight as the NFL season gets underway. Commissioner Roger Goodell is also making a full charge trying to boost the league's image after a controversial off season.

His first move came last week when the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with the thousands of former players suing over concussion- related ailments. Then yesterday, Goodell announced a $10 million grant to study head injuries. He also kicked off a national bus tour to publicize this year's Super Bowl and remind fans why pro football is still the country's most popular sport.

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: No one really knows who's going to win, who's going to emerge as the next great star. But that's what makes NFL football exciting. Everybody has that hope. Everybody has that dream of winning. That's what fans love about NFL football.

NICHOLS: Still, the concussion issue continues to linger. When pressed on whether $765 million was generous enough for a league with revenues around $10 billion, Goodell noted that, quote, "people start with making an assumption that we make $10 billion. That's $10 billion in revenue. There's a difference between making and revenue." Goodell added that, quote, "$765 million is a lot of money."

And it may be, but earlier this week four former players filed a brand new lawsuit alleging the NFL hid information about the dangers of brain injuries. In an interview earlier this summer, former Bears quarterback, Jim McMahon, who suffered multiple concussions alleged the same thing.

Do you think when you were playing that they knew more than they were saying?

JIM MCMAHON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: We definitely know they knew more.


MCMAHON: We definitely know they knew more than what they told us. You know, back then, nobody -- you know, nobody questioned the hierarchy.

NICHOLS: These days, there are plenty of questions. But when the ball kicks off tonight, at least some of those questions can be answered on the field, much to the relief of the league office.


NICHOLS: Now Carol, there are some fans in this area who do still want some of those off-field issues to be the focus tonight. In fact, there's a billboard nearby the stadium talking about the state's permission to use recreational marijuana and advocating that players on the Broncos shouldn't be penalized by the NFL for doing the same. So we'll have to see how that develops throughout the day, as well.

COSTELLO: Not only that, I think the billboard says, hey, we can see it -- "Stop driving players to drink. Let them smoke pot." Some people might say totally logical, man.

NICHOLS: We'll have it all for you here.

COSTELLO: Ok. Can't wait. Rachel Nichols, thanks so much.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a quick break.