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CONNECT THE WORLD
U.S. Congress Remain Skeptical Of Syrian Strike; Serena Williams Wins U.S. Open; German Intelligence Suggests Assad Wasn't Informed of Chemical Attack; Dennis Rodman Returns from North Korea
Aired September 9, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight, as the power play on Capitol Hill heats up over Syria, an off-the-cuff remark from this man could change the path ahead. How? Well, we'll be live in Washington and in Moscow to find out.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A narrow, short, limited, tailored action would be an appropriate response.
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ANDERSON: But what role would NATO play? I'll ask the secretary- general this hour.
And a right royal blunder. Why police at Buckingham Palace have been left red-faced.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: Well, first up tonight, an unexpected development in the Syrian crisis at the start of what is a very busy week as the White House intensifies efforts to win support for military action.
Now Russia seized the diplomatic initiative today, proposing that Syria put its chemical weapons under international control to avert the threat of strikes.
Syria's foreign minister welcomed the proposal during a meeting with his Russian counterpart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALID MOALLEM, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): During our talks with Foreign Minister Lavrov this morning, he launched an initiative related to chemical weapons. I listened carefully to his statement this evening. In regards to that, I declare that the Syrian Arab Republic welcomes Russia's initiative on the basis that the Syrian leadership cares about the lives of our citizens and the security in our country.
We are also confident in the wisdom of the Russian government, which is trying to prevent an American aggression against our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, that statement came just hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to float the same idea at a news conference in London. But one U.S. official told CNN that Kerry went, and I quote, off script, calling his remarks a major goof.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is here anything at this point that his government could do or offer that would stop an attack?
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week, turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow a full and total accounting before that. But he isn't about to do it and it can't be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: John Kerry in London earlier on Monday.
Later in the day, U.S. government official said they are skeptical that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would follow through on any agreement to turn over chemical weapons, but they say they are considering the proposal.
Well, we are covering this story from all angles, as you would imagine here on CNN. Phil Black following Russia's new proposal from Moscow. Lisa Desjardins is on Capitol Hill where congress is now back in session getting ready for some critical votes. And Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin with details of an intelligence report there that suggests Syria's regime is behind a chemical weapons attack, but it didn't come from the very top.
Chaps, thank you for joining us and ladies.
Phil, let's start with you, is it clear why Russia chose today of all days to suggest Syria cede control of these chemical weapons?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: It's not immediately clear, no Becky. And really, the State Department had already played down John Kerry's statement, describing it as a rhetorical argument by the time Russia grabbed ahold of it. The State Department had said that it was highlighting the unlikelihood, the impossibility of Syria handing over its weapons when it's already had plenty of time to get rid of them.
But despite that, Russia has grabbed this idea enthusiastically and is really holding on to it and arguing that it is a viable alternative to military action in Syria.
And the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov held a very sudden, quick press conference in which he demanded Syria get on board with this idea as well. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Russia is immediately prepared to work with Damascus. We're calling on the Syrian authorities to not only agree on putting chemical weapons storage under international control, but also for its further destruction, and then joining the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons.
We have passed our offer to the Syrian foreign minister and hope to receive a fast and positive answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: And the Syrian foreign minister who is still in Moscow came through with a very fast and positive answer saying that Syria would be part of this, that it trusted Russia's advice here.
It's been an incredibly fast moving day on Syria here in the Russian capital. Only this morning the Russian and Syrian foreign ministers were sitting side by side saying that a big international peace conference is the only potential solution. Then a few hours later, they had seized upon the seemingly improvised statements by the U.S. Secretary of State and adopted them as policy -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Is there any indication that Moscow knew that this was coming, or indeed that Washington knew that this suggestion from the Kremlin was coming?
BLACK: No. There isn't at this stage. I think an interesting question is had this idea already been floated or discussed between -- in negotiations between the United States and Russia? We know that the Secretary of State and the Russian foreign minister had been talking by phone, a great deal lately. And it would be interesting to know if this idea had been floated at any stage between them.
But even if it had, it had not been picked up upon publicly by the Russian foreign minister until the secretary of state made, as I say, these seemingly improvised statements that as you mentioned are now being described by some as a major goof -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Yeah. All right, Phil Black is in Moscow for you.
To Washington now where the Obama administration is making last minute appeals to lawmakers there as they get ready to vote on military action against Syria. Lisa Desjardins joins us from Capitol Hill this evening.
What we didn't expect was this news out of Russia today. How has, or will, the White House respond to this notion that Russia suggests that Syria cede its chemical weapons? Because this is a stunner, isn't it, if nothing else.
LISA DESJARDINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes. This is fascinating. This is something that I think most of Washington did not expect. And we heard actually just a couple of hours ago from the White House on this question expressing interest in this idea, but also expressing skepticism.
And Becky I have to say I just came from an intelligence briefing here on Capitol Hill. As some of our viewers might know, congress just got back to town literally two hours ago. So now we have more members than we've seen in the last week getting these classified briefings. I talked to members at that briefing. And I heard that same skepticism.
One important member, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Mike Rogers, he said we'll consider it, but I want to see if it has teeth.
So that doesn't seem like the untying of the knot quite yet, but there is certainly some interests here, but caution as well on the Russian plan.
ANDERSON: Well, it's always going to be a big week. Just talk us through what we should expect?
DESJARDINS: All right. We've got a lot going on this week. It all starts tomorrow when the president will be up here on Capitol Hill. He will be meeting at lunches with members of congress. And he will also speak tomorrow night to the American public.
I think you'll be seeing a lot of polling come out Wednesday morning that will tell us not only how he did, but how the vote is going to go.
Then Wednesday, critical time, Becky. That's when the U.S. Senate is expected to take the first big vote on this Syria authorization. The U.S. Senate has complicated procedure. So one vote will not be enough, but we expect this first vote to be a key test vote. It need 60. Becky, right now, the president does not have those votes.
We expect if that passes on Wednesday, a final vote could happen later in the week with debates getting very loud, I expect, in that House and Senate.
ANDERSON: All right.
Let's take a look and see how these votes are staking up. Lisa, stick with me. At this stage, most lawmakers on Capitol Hill are officially undecided. In the Republican controlled House of Representatives there are 148 no votes and 25 planning to vote yes. But a majority of representatives are still undecided.
In the Democrat controlled Senate, 24 senators favor a strike, 23 oppose, 53 are undecided.
Lisa, it does seem the majority of Americans themselves have made up their minds. Walk us through what we know about how the American people feel about this potential congressional resolution on a strike in Syria?
DESJARDINS: It's glaring, Becky. Right now, all polling indicates the American people by large majorities do not want any military action in Syria. Some 60 percent, according to a CNN/ORC poll. And I also have to tell you an update -- so there you go, the numbers right there -- Americans say 59 percent do not want congress go pass this resolution.
An update, meanwhile, to show you how much this public opinion is affecting congress, just in the last few minutes, Becky, I've got two more no votes from the United States Senate. That means that now there are more senators voting against this Syria resolution than for it.
And this isn't just an issue, perhaps, with this Syria situation, but perhaps with President Obama's presidency. His approval rating that we did in a CNN poll today is now at 45 percent. That is not his lowest, but it is very close to his lowest yet.
ANDERSON: How all of this will affect Obama's standing not just in Washington and in the U.S., but around the world will become clearer as we work through this week. Lisa, thank you for that.
If he is repudiated by congress on military action, the odds seem increasingly stacked against him of course, that will not just damage him, it could seriously humiliate Barack Obama.
Now if Syrian regime did use chemical weapons, is it possible that someone other than Bashar al-Assad gave that order?
Well, a German newspaper is offering new evidence that seems to point the finger at Syrian forces, but not necessarily the president. Fred Pleitgen is with us now from Berlin with that angle.
This isn't the first time I've heard it suggested, but the way this is being described in what are very well respected German press, or newspapers, is what's interesting.
What are the details here -- Fred?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, certainly a very well placed German newspaper, especially among intelligence circles. (inaudible) saying that apparently the German intelligence service has intercepts that a German surveillance boat that's on the Mediterranean Sea got from the Syrian defense forces saying that apparently over the past about four-and-a-half months commanders on the ground, and you're talking about very high level commanders, Becky, at the divisional level, so really guys who are very high up in the military on several occasions demanded permission from Bashar al-Assad's to use chemical weapons on the battlefield.
Now the talk here is of at least nine occasions where these commanders asked Bashar al-Assad to use chemical weapons on the battlefield and every single time apparently he said no. He turned them down.
And so therefore, the German intelligence service -- at least according to this media report -- comes to the conclusion that he might not have ordered an attack on August 21st which is of course the time when these alleged chemical weapons attacks on the outskirts of Damascus took place.
So they are saying that right now it's not clear whether or not he actually approved these chemical weapons strike to take place.
The interesting thing is, though, today of course there was also a press briefing in the White House, Becky, where the administration said it still believed that Bashar al-Assad is in full control of the chemical weapons program of the chemical weapons. And so therefore you have some disparency (ph) there between the Germans and the Americans.
But you'll also recall, Becky, that right from the outset in the early days after these alleged strikes took place there was already some question whether Bashar al-Assad was in full control of his armed forces, or whether there might have been some rogue elements that might have acted on their own, Becky.
ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin for you. You've got Lisa in Washington and Phil Black in Moscow this evening. Thank you very much indeed for your analysis guys.
If Donald Rumsfeld was still around as defense secretary, we would be hearing there was known knowns, some known unknowns and some serious unknown unknowns this week. It is a big week in Washington and around the world. Join CNN's Wolf Blitzer for a special interview with U.S. President Barack Obama about the possibility of military action against Syria. That is 11:00 pm in London right here on CNN.
Well, still to come this hour, I speak to the head of NATO and ask him why he won't be drawn into military action despite his condemnation of Syria's alleged chemical attack.
And yet another jewelry heist in France, this time involving a fiery getaway.
And she did it again. Serena Williams successfully defends her women's single's title. A new look Connect the World for you from London tonight. I'm Becky Anderson. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: This is CNN. And Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. Welcome back.
Now, George Zimmerman has been taken into custody after an apparent domestic incident with his estranged wife at a home in Florida today. Police say he is in, and I quote, "investigative detention" as they work out what happened.
Now that incident comes two months after Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.
Well, early election results out of Norway point to the defeat of the prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, conservative Erna Solberg is expected to win.
Stoltenberg, the leader of the Labor Party, has been in the job -- or the top job at least -- for eight years. The country's conservatives will be able to claim victory with the help of a center-right coalition.
Now the vote comes two years after convicted murderer Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage that targeted the ruling Labor Party.
Well, the British prime minister's office calling for answers about payoffs at the BBC. The corporation's former director general appeared before a parliamentary committee on Monday. Mark Thompson faced questions about senior staff receiving huge payouts to leave the BBC, including his deputy who received nearly $1.5 million
Thompson said big payouts weren't uncommon.
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MARK THOMPSON, FRM. BBC DIRECTOR-GENERAL: The idea of someone of 31 years getting the equivalent of two years' pay is -- would be widespread across the organization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the British finance minister says the UK economy is turning the corner. Addressing business leaders in London today, Mr. Osborne said Britain is experiencing the fastest period of growth since the 1990s.
The (inaudible) expect the UK to grow by 3.5 percent in the second half of 2013. And Mr. Osborne said the government would continue with its economic plan and warned public spending restrains would stay in place.
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GEORGE OSBORNE, BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER: Those still calling for more borrowing and more debt, in spite of all the evidence, want to put low mortgage rates and jobs at risk. The impact on living standards would be severe, just as our economy recovers and the British people's efforts start to pay off, now is not the time to put all of that at risk.
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ANDERSON: France is the target of yet another high profile jewelry heist. Police say four robbers rammed their SUV into the store (inaudible) the prestige Place Vendome in Paris early this morning. Authorities say they then snatched up an estimated $2.6 million worth of valuables, set fire to the SUV and escaped in another car.
The raid comes more than a month after what could be the world's biggest jewelry heist in Cannes.
We remember that one.
Well, at least six people are dead and up to 20 others are being held hostage following clashes between Philippine troops and hundreds of Muslim rebels. Philippine police and armed forces have blocked parts of Zamboanga City, a mainly Christian area, in the southern part of the country.
The rebels are believed to be from the Morrow National Liberation Front (ph). The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government 1996, but some of its fighters do remain active.
Dennis Rodman is back from his much touted trip to North Korea. It was hoped the former NBA star might try to negotiate the release of imprisoned American Kenneth Bae, but instead Rodman announced plans for an all-star basketball game.
And David McKenzie spoke with the eccentric athlete known simply as The Worm.
MCKENZIE: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman back from North Korea. Showing off snapshots with his friend, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Rodman fueled speculation that he would push Kim about imprisoned American Kenneth Bae. Now, a very different tune.
Did you ask about Kenneth Bae? CNN.
DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: No, no. Guess what? That's not my job to ask about Kenneth Bae.
MCKENZIE: Rodman showing off that famous temper.
RODMAN: Ask Obama about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As if you are going to talk about it.
RODMAN: Ask Hillary Clinton.
RODMAN: (EXPLETIVES DELETED)
MCKENZIE: Bae is serving 15 years of hard labor and desperately ill, his family says.
TERRI CHUNG, KENNETH BAE'S SISTER: Rodman is the only person, the only American to have contact with the North Korean leader. You cannot help but hope their friendship would benefit Kenneth. So we were disappointed.
MCKENZIE: The worm billed his trip as basketball diplomacy, but some aren't buying it.
ABRAHAM COOPER, VICE CHAIR OF N. KOREA FREEDOM COALITION: Rodman's behavior, now, on both these trips are just absolutely outrageous. It just aids and abets one of the most dangerous regimes in real time.
MCKENZIE: Kim's regime is running vast labor camps and developing nukes. Rodman calls the young leader a, quote, "awesome kid."
COOPER: I have no idea from his point of view what game he's playing. Although, you can just take a look at the obvious. He's getting phenomenal coverage. For someone who hasn't put the ball into the basket in years is now being talked about in capitals around the world.
MCKENZIE: Well, the publicity will continue. Rodman will give a press conference in New York in just hours. How close has he gotten Kim Jong Un? Well, he told "The Guardian" newspaper, he met with Kim and his family and revealed the name of the young baby girl, which is Ju- Ae. So, that's closer than any American diplomat has managed for more than a decade.
David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.
ANDERSON: Here it is, 21 minutes past 9:00 in London. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson.
Coming up, the United Nations secretary-general talks about Syria and chemical weapons. We're going to live for you to the UN.
And, tennis fans get their money's worth at the U.S. Open as Serena Williams is now one title away from grand slam history. Do stay with us. You're 60 seconds away. Taking a very short break.
ANDERSON: And a very warm welcome back.
Let's do some sports for you this evening.
She may be in the twilight of her career, or at least some people call it that, but there doesn't seem to be anything or anyone who can stop Serena Williams. For the second year in a row, the American won the U.S. Open final.
For more, I'm joined by World Sports Alex Thomas.
What does this mean for the world number one?
ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I love the way you say is she really in the twilight of her career? In a sporting sense, you're over 30. You're past it.
Now we've got a few stats for you. She did, of course, Victoria Azarenka, won the U.S. Open. The first time she's actually successfully defended it. And we can see that she's now got 17 of the big fours, the grand slam titles. And there's a nice symmetry about this you'll see, Becky.
The three fast court surfaces, the hard courts U.S. Open, Australian Open five titles apiece, plus the grass at Wimbledon. Only two French Open crowns. But the second of those came this year at Roland Garros in a run of four of the last six Grand Slam titles. This was all after she got knocked out early in last year's French Open then got together with her coach. And so she'd been enjoying life off the court and really enjoying it on the court as well. And she's really just loving things so much.
So now the question how great can she become? One more grand slam title, she equals Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, huge names. Four more, she equals Steffi Graf, which has the Open era record. And seven more to reach Australia's Margaret Court the all-time singles grand slam title with 24.
ANDERSON: Can she do it, do you think?
THOMAS: Well, this is what she thinks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERENA WILLIAMS, 2013 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION: Well, the players are getting so tough now. And 22 is a lot, especially from 17. So I don't know, I just really want to just take it one at a time. And I don't know what happens next, I'm just going to just keep playing tennis. And hopefully keep winning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS: She's being a bit coy about it, but actually (inaudible) on the World Sports team has written a blog saying you think she can do it, you go to CNN.com/worldsport.
ANDERSON: Excellent. Good stuff. And good for her.
Now the men's final between Rafa and Novak begins in less than an hour. What's your bet on...
THOMAS: Well, I'll tell you what's so interesting about these two, we're so used to seeing them together, and not always as (inaudible) now that Novak is more than a match for Rafa. It will be their 37th meeting, do you believe it? No one has ever had such a rivalry. It beats the previous record of McEnroe and Lendl. We thought that was a golden era. So now it's official, folks, this is the best era in men's tennis bar none. I'm saying that.
And you can have a look at some of the statistics around these two. This is their form in the U.S. Open currently. They've lost precious few sets, haven't they?
Whatever happens Djokovic will remain world number one. But look at that rivalry. 36 games. Nadal has won more of them, but five of the six, including the French Open final. But a couple of stats for you. I don't normally fling out numbers, but these two are so close, it's the margins that count. Djokovic leads 10-6, 10 wins on hard courts.
But, you know, neither of them like to lose. It will be a long, long contest.
ANDERSON: Those stats were definitely worth throwing out.
And thank you, sir.
The tennis for you this evening. What a great tournament it's been.
The latest world news headlines just ahead.
Plus, more on the international debate over Syria. The nation's president gives a rare interview to a U.S. -- sorry, let's start that again -- a U.S. TV network as top diplomats debate their next step. Some sound from that.
And later, Scotland Yard apologizes for a right, royal mistake. We're going to tell you about the embarrassing mix-up on the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
That all after this. Your headlines follow this short break.
ANDERSON: This is Connect the World. The top stories for you this hour.
The U.S. Congress is back in session, albeit in recess as we speak. It's set to consider whether the U.S. should punish the Syrian regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons. Lawmakers returning from a month long recess and face pressure from the White House to authorize an attack.
Now Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied any involvement in an alleged chemical attack outside Damascus in August. During an interview aired on the U.S. broadcaster CBS he also said Washington should, and I quote, "expect everything if it launches military strikes."
George Zimmerman has been taken into custody after an apparent domestic incident with his estranged wife at home in Florida. Now, it comes two months after Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.
Early election results out of Norway points to the defeat of the prime minister Jens Stoltenberg. Conservative Erna Solberg is expected to win. She's set to claim victory with the help of a center-right coalition.
I want get you to the United Nations, now. Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon says he is considering asking the Security Council to demand that the Syrian government hand over its chemical weapons. Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh joining us live from the UN.
Interesting words from the secretary-general today. Off the back of the fact that Russia has suggested Syria cede its chemical weapons, or something Ban Ki-moon has come up with himself?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, this all started in London with Secretary of State John Kerry seemingly answering a rhetorical question -- making a rhetorical statement saying that if they gave their chemical weapons up within a week that obviously would be a good thing, but quickly going on to say he was sure that would never happen.
Seized upon by the Russians, who suggested well, if they're willing to do that, we would recommend it thoroughly, and then backed up by the Syrian foreign minister himself in Moscow saying that they believe Russia had the interest of the Syrian people at heart and would do what they could to avoid, quote, "American aggression."
And then, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saying that yes, he'd welcome such a proposal if chemical weapons and their chemical precursors were moved, stored in one place, and then ultimately destroyed.
That then had further traction with the French government, whose foreign minister Laurent Fabius came forward and said, in fact, they would -- think this idea should have considerable -- I think the word was "thorough consideration" at this point.
But also laid out three conditions for how it may come forward that those responsible for the August 21 attacks on the Damascus suburb should face some sort of international justice, perhaps at the Hague, that all --
WALSH: -- these chemicals should be destroyed, and finally the UN should pass some sort of Security Council resolution mandating this and suggesting punishment if it didn't happen, Becky. A very complex diplomatic day emerging, it seems, from a slip of the tongue of John Kerry in London, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. Nick, you and I were speaking -- what? -- a week or so ago. I was out in Abu Dhabi, you and I were speaking, you were already at the UN reporting from there.
And you'd pretty much written off for all the right reasons anything coming to fruition from the United Nations and the Security Council. Do you think at this stage, as we watch what's going on on Capitol Hill, that UN headquarters is gaining more teeth once again?
WALSH: Well, there are two things you have to watch for here. Is this process that began today, that emerged in many ways out of nowhere on the diplomatic stage, although there were rumblings of such an idea before, is that going to lead to anything at the Security Council?
Russian will be torn to not back it, and the US, of course, seemingly started this whole ball rolling earlier on today, but the devil is going to be in the detail. The French want to see -- some sort of firm response if this isn't done immediately and quickly enough.
But a second issue, too, people have forgotten. We could in the next week hear from UN inspectors who are on the ground in Syria that samples taking from there are being tested in laboratories, that process, we're assured, is happening as quickly as possible. They could report at some point in the next week.
They'll just say what they found, they won't necessarily apportion blame, but they will give a narrative as to how the events of August 21st happened, which could suggest who is to blame.
So that, too, will feed massively into the international debate, and certainly the statement by the EU recently wanted to see the results of UN inspectors' work before any sort of foreign intervention were to occur inside Syria.
So a lot happening here right now, but today's surprises, I think, will be what people are focusing on in the 24 hours ahead, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, the plot thickens. Nick is at UN headquarters. Thank you, Nick.
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has said the US should expect, and I quote, "everything" if Washington launches an attack on his country. During an interview aired on the US broadcaster CBS, he denied involvement in any chemical attack in August and said US Secretary of State John Kerry had presented no evidence regarding the alleged attack outside of Damascus. Have a listen to exactly what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASHAR AL-ASSAD, PRESIDENT OF SYRIA: No, he presented his confidence and he presented his convictions. It's not about confidence, it's about evidence. We acted -- sorry, the Russians have completely opposite evidence the genocide was formed from an area where the rebels controlled.
That reminds me about what Kerry said about the big lie that Colin Powell said in front of the world on satellite about the WMD in Iraq before going to war when he said, "this is our evidence." Actually, he gave false evidence.
In this case, Kerry didn't even present any evidence. He talked -- "we have evidence," and he didn't present anything. Not yet. Nothing so far. No single shred of evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Bashar al-Assad speaking to Charlie Rose. Earlier, I spoke to NATO's secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who says the Syrian regime did carry out a chemical weapons attack. I began by asking him why NATO would not be taking part in any military action against Syria despite his assertion that the use of chemical weapons should not go unanswered.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, SECRETARY-GENERAL, NATO: NATO already plays its part. We have deployed Patriot missiles to Turkey to ensure effective defense of Turkey. NATO is a forum for consultation among allies, and of course we keep the situation in Syria under close review.
If individual allies were to respond militarily, I would envision a short, tailored, measured, limited military operation, and for that, you don't need the NATO command and control system.
ANDERSON: If Turkey were to ask for further support, though, as an alliance member, your mandate would be to play a role, surely.
RASMUSSEN: Of course. And eventually, an attack on Turkey would be a game-changer, and in that case, it would be a NATO question, yes.
ANDERSON: If Congress doesn't vote to back US military action, could or would NATO be a last option?
RASMUSSEN: I won't pre-judge the outcome on -- of an ongoing consultations among allies.
ANDERSON: But it is a good question. Can I press you on that? Theoretically?
RASMUSSEN: That's a hypothetical question. I don't foresee any further NATO role. We are focused on the defense of Turkey. Having said that, it's my personal view that the horrendous attacks -- chemical weapons attacks in Syria necessitate a firm international reply to prevent such chemical attacks from happening again.
ANDERSON: Assad has threatened to strike back. What is your assessment of his military capabilities at this point?
RASMUSSEN: Well, it's not the first time we have heard such threats from his side or from other dictators in the world. I can assure you that, as far as NATO is concerned, we do have all plans in place to ensure effective protection of our populations.
ANDERSON: Let's just talk about these chemical weapons. Are you absolutely sure that Assad knowingly deployed chemical weapons? There is German intelligence today to suggest that it may have been his forces but without his nod, as it were.
RASMUSSEN: It is the regime responsibility. And it's my firm conviction that the regime in Damascus is responsible for these horrendous chemical weapons attacks.
ANDERSON: Well, let's talk about the sort of attack that might happen. Obama has talked about a limited, narrow strike. Is it really possible to keep action within those sort of parameters?
RASMUSSSEN: Yes, indeed. And actually, I do believe that a narrow, short, limited, tailored action would be an appropriate response to the horrendous use of chemical weapons. Having said that, I also would like to stress that there's no long-term military solution to the conflict in Syria. Speaking about the long-term perspective, we need a political process leading to a political settlement.
ANDERSON: Why did NATO provide support for Libya and isn't prepared to provide any further support for Syrian intervention?
RASMUSSEN: Well, of course, in Libya, we had a clear United Nations mandate, we had clear support from countries in the region. There is no call for NATO action in Syria.
ANDERSON: All right. Live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, as international governments decide what action to take in Syria, we're going to take a look at the struggles facing those who've had to flee: Syria's refugees. That after this.
ANDERSON: Well, you're back with us, 41 minutes past 9:00 out of London for you. I'm Becky Anderson. They Syrian crisis has spilled far beyond its own borders. I don't need to tell you that, you'll have seen the pictures. Several dozen Egyptians gathered in Cairo Monday to show their support for the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and opposition to possible US intervention.
Last week, the United Nations said more than 2 million people have now fled the violence in Syria. Karl Penhaul reports from Cairo, where the UN says it's dealing with about a thousand asylum applications every day.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a hot wait to find a safe haven, but the Syrian refugees have been through far worse to get this far.
(MAN SPEAKING ARABIC)
PENHAUL: He says, "The places I've passed through to escape from Syria were like ghost towns. It was like a theme from the video game 'Resident Evil.'"
Ahmed Abu Shami (ph) fled to Egypt a year ago, but he's only just now registering with the United Nations Refugee Agency. UNHCR says it's dealing with about a thousand asylum applications a day in Cairo.
The rush has come amid growing hostility against Syrians following Egypt's military coup. Looming US air strikes are fueling anxiety among the refugees to get their papers in order. Since July, the interim regime has applied stricter entry rules requiring visas for the first time.
MOHAMMED DAYRI, UNHCR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE: They say refugees would amount to 250,000 to 300,000, according to government estimates that have been provided to us. However, out of these 250,000, we have so far registered only 100,000 Syrian refugees.
PENHAUL: It was tough when Ahmed Salam (ph) and his family fled the Damascus suburb of Guta four months ago. Since then, he's heard many of his neighbors were killed in last month's gas attack. Going back, he says, would mean almost certain death, so today, he's signing on as refugees so they can legally stay.
"There was shelling and destruction when we left. Guta has been besieged for about a year now, cut off from communications, no electricity nor water. Even food was a problem," he says.
As civil war thundered around her, his wife Safa (ph) says she had to dig deep for courage. "I made my heart stronger for the sake of my children. Before, I had a weak heart. But when my children heard a shell coming, they would shake and cry. I had to act strong," she says.
Some Syrians were lucky enough to escape with savings, and in parts of Cairo, Syrian businesses are flourishing. The handmade cheese offers a taste of home, but as hard as he tries, it just isn't the same for Onad Saad Unis (ph).
"Of course, Syrian food tastes better in your own home and in your own country. If you're a refugee, it just doesn't taste the same," he says.
Back in the refugee center, nobody talks publicly about the pros and cons of US threats to bomb Syria. Salam is just worried for family and friends he left behind. "We're afraid civilians might be hit because many military installations are in residential areas, positioned between schools and hospitals," he says.
Abu Shami seeks solace by dwelling on happier times. "I remember how we all used to sit together, go to birthdays together, or walk through old Damascus. Those things are only a memory now," he says.
A memory barely flickering amid the ruins of war and survival as a refugee.
Karl Penhaul, CNN, Cairo.
ANDERSON: Well, more Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon than to any other country, nearly three quarters of a million. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta visited the Bekaa Valley Refugee Camp and filed this report.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're here in the Bekaa Valley here along the Lebanese-Syrian border, the border just there over my right shoulder. People coming to a camp like this, one of the largest camps in the area, oftentimes by foot, walking several hours, coming across the border.
The official number is around 720,000 refugees. Those are the registered ones. The number is likely twice as high as that, and that's a significant toll, not only on the country, but on the people living in these camps.
As you walk around a camp like this and really try to understand the people, one thing becomes clear. That is that you should not typecast people who are living here, many of them coming from decidedly middle-class communities in and around Damascus, coming here to escape the violence that just became not sustainable for their way of life back home.
So, they come here, oftentimes having to pay $100 a month to simply live on a small plot of land. The question they're trying to answer, the question that is being asked: what's next? Could impending strikes -- how will it change things over here?
And what you're already starting to see is because of the concerns about those strikes, the numbers increasing in these camps, not going down, increasing. And likely, those numbers will continue to go up, certainly, if the strikes do happen.
There is both a physical as well as psychological toll that you can see in the people here. There's no fixed water supply, there's no fixed sanitation. And it's an incredibly abysmal way of life, children working in fields for just $2 a day to try and make it all work.
But again, both for the country of Lebanon as well as the people living in these camps, it's not a sustainable solution, but it's also not going away anytime soon. Back to you.
ANDERSON: Well, you may feel that you want to help the Syrian refugees. If you do, we can help you out. Please do use our website, cnn.com/impact. There you can find details of more than a dozen organizations who are working to help refugees across the region. So, use that site.
And if you've been affected by the crisis in Syria, the team here at CONNECT THE WORLD wants to hear from you. You can tweet me, as ever, @BeckyCNN, your thoughts please, @BeckyCNN.
Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, an apology to a prince. The blunder on the grounds of Buckingham Palace has left London's police force red-faced. Details on that after this.
ANDERSON: Well, London's Metropolitan Police Force is apologizing for a royal mistake, and Prince Andrew, well, he's taking it all in his stride. Last week, Scotland Yard mistook the Duke of York for an intruder and stopped him as he was walking in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
Police were being extra cautious, we are told, after a very real security breach at the palace two days earlier. Let's kick this part of the show off with Erin McLaughlin, who has this explanation for you.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A security snafu at Buckingham Palace. London's Metropolitan Police confront a would-be intruder wandering around the palace gardens. They shouted and demanded he identify himself.
The problem, the intruder was actually the queen's son, Prince Andrew, simply enjoying a walk. Scotland Yard later apologized to the prince, who took it in stride. "The police have a difficult job to do, balancing security for the royal family and deterring intruders, and sometimes they get it wrong," he said in a statement.
Police clearly on high alert because the run-in came just two days after one of the worst-ever security breaches at Buckingham Palace. Two men were arrested for allegedly targeting the queen's main residence, which is packed with priceless works of art and jewelry.
KEN WHARF, FORMER ROYAL PROTECTION OFFICER: It is serious, the breach here this week was a breach of security. Of that there is no question.
MCLAUGHLIN: A man scaled a 12-foot fence and broke through a door while his accomplice waited outside the palace. It's likely that he had to walk through a substantial portion of the complex before arriving at the staterooms where he was arrested.
On display there, a temporary exhibition, which is open to the public, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the queen's coronation. It includes the spectacular diamond diadem, the same crown the queen wears on British stamps and coins. Luckily, nothing was stolen and no one was hurt in the incident, and the queen wasn't even home. She's still on summer holiday at her castle in Scotland.
MCLAUGHLIN (on camera): Security experts say this kind of break-in could happen again, that security is never 100 percent, especially when the general public is able to get so close to the palace. It's a risk they say the queen is willing to take in order to be more accessible. The break-in prompted a thorough security review
Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: Well, you will not be surprised to hear that Buckingham Palace is meant to be one of the most heavily-guarded buildings in the world, but last week's break-in is far from the first breach of its walls. Let's bring in royal historian Kate Williams to take us through some of those incidents, as it were.
In all seriousness, it's important there is security at Buckingham Palace. It does, though, get breached, doesn't it?
KATE WILLIAMS, ROYAL HISTORIAN: Well, actually, Becky, it looks like a fortress, but it's really not. It's actually the least-secure royal palace in this country, possibly one of the least-secure ones in Europe because there are so many people going in and out, tours, visitors, staff, contractors, the royal family themselves.
It's actually a pretty porous building, and they've had repeated examples of people getting in. And one of the biggest ones, of course, is 1982, Michael Fagan, scaled up the queen's drainpipe, popped into her room, and sat on her bed while she was just waking up. It was only when he asked for a cigarette and she rang for it that the maids came in.
ANDERSON: She rang for a cigarette for him?
WILLIAMS: Yes --
ANDERSON: Obviously --
WILLIAMS: Well, she rang many times, but the police said, oh, there must be a mistake, I don't know why she's ringing. And they saw --
ANDERSON: At that time in the morning.
WILLIAMS: -- can't think what there's a problem here. And they found a discarded bottle of wine that he'd been drinking and thought it was just another policeman.
WILLIAMS: So, that is remarkable. But of course, so is this one --
ANDERSON: Do we know what Prince Andrew was doing in the gardens, or is one of those cases of who cares what he was doing?
ANDERSON: He was really just sort of --
WILLIAMS: Well, Prince Andrew --
ANDERSON: -- walking out.
WILLIAMS: -- it was Wednesday evening, the intruder was found on Monday. Wednesday evening, everyone's terribly paranoid, and he'd just come back from an evening in Piccadilly at trade fair, was just wandering around the gardens to look at the last of the summer sun, apparently, that's what he was doing, and he was stopped by two policemen.
And not just stopped, and said, "Hello, sir, what are you doing?" He was told to get on the ground, put his hands up, just what we see in American TV drama, get on the ground, put his hands up, and they had guns out as well. So -- and when he said, "I'm Prince Andrew," they didn't believe him.
ANDERSON: It's absolutely remarkable. Do we know whether they'd been disciplined, as it were?
WILLIAMS: No formal disciplinary methods have been taken --
WILLIAMS: -- and Prince Andrew has said publicly he's grateful, he knows they're just trying to protect him. But privately, the word is, that he's actually rather annoyed about it and he does feel it was a very distressing incident to have happened to him.
ANDERSON: For many of our viewers, they'll be absolutely fascinated to hear just how porous one of the most famous buildings --
WILLIAMS: Yes, come on chaps, off we all go!
ANDERSON: -- I mean, the Tower of London is not a porous place, as we know. Why didn't they just tighten things up? You allude to the fact that this is -- it's a very public place, isn't it? There are people in and out --
WILLIAMS: This is a place of work, yes.
ANDERSON: I know.
WILLIAMS: I think they do try and make things as tight as possible, and yet, not too intrusive, because of course, the royal family themselves, they don't want to be followed around by a protection officer all day. They don't want them stationed outside every door. They want to proceed in a normal fashion, enjoy themselves in a normal place of -- it's their home.
And we -- we would all hate that ourselves, but I think perhaps we are getting cleverer and cleverer security breaches, and what we think is that this gentleman who was the intruder, he was on a private tour.
So, the palace is closed at the moment, but you can go on private tours, about 70 pounds a head, look around the staterooms. It's possible he hid behind, and there wasn't a proper head count done, so clearly, those are going to have to be tightened up.
ANDERSON: And here is the serious thing to all of this. What's the potential for a real security threat, a terror threat?
WILLIAMS: Well, of course, a terror threat, this we've seen it was just someone doing it for a dare. And our previous intruders have just been rather fun-loving madmen. There was one who jumped into Queen Victoria's bedroom and stole bread and hid in her chimney. These are just people who rather are kind of royal fans who think it might be fun to get in.
But as you say, there might be someone who's getting in for nefarious reasons, planting a bomb. In all seriousness, we've been talking about possible places that could be bombed in Syria, and one of the key ones is the presidential palace because of the effect on national morale. What would happen, of course, if our -- if Buckingham Palace was to be affected? That would be quite distressing.
ANDERSON: There's not a thing that Kate Williams couldn't tell you about the royal family. She has a book coming out, and when it's ready, we'll let you know, and you can read all about it. Thank you for that. I know you --
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
ANDERSON: -- just finished up. Well done. Thank you. Kate with me this evening. While Buckingham Palace houses many grand paintings, a masterpiece has been found hiding in an attic of a much more humble building for a century.
The work, by Vincent Van Gogh is finally being shown for the first time more than 120 years after his death. Matthew Chance tells us about a major discovery in what is the art world.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A long-lost masterpiece, hidden from the world for years, finally unveiled.
AXEL RUEGER, DIRECTOR, VAN GOGH MUSEUM: It is a great pleasure for us to present to you this morning a new work by Vincent Van Gogh, a newly- discovered painting.
CHANCE: "Sunset at Montmajour," a large oil landscape, was painted in 1888. It's the first full-sized canvas from the Dutch master discovered since 1928. The director of Amsterdam's Van Gogh museum describes it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
RUEGER: It is from his most prominent period in his career, from his period in Arles, when he worked in the south of France in Province. And just to give you some context, it is the period during which he also painted "The Sunflowers," "The Yellow House," "The Bedroom," some of his really most-famous works.
CHANCE: Once thought to be a forgery, the painting sat for years in the attic of a Norwegian art collector. But thanks to new research, including a letter from Van Gogh himself, experts were able to authenticate the painting.
Officials refuse to speculate on the painting's value, but it's comparable in size and was created the same year as another Van Gogh classic, "The Sunflowers," which sold for nearly $40 million at auction in 1987. But to fine art fans, "Sunset at Montmajour" is priceless.
Matthew Chance, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: That's a find and a half, isn't it? All right. Tonight's Parting Shots for you. Puppies, a calming influence on just about everybody, aren't they? And now it is hoped other animals as well.
Officials at Dallas Zoo want to help keep these two small cheetah cubs calm, so they are giving the pair a puppy playmate. Experts say dogs are naturally comfortable in public settings, so they will provide a good roll model for the young cheetahs growing up in the zoo. Sweet.
I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. From the team here, it's a very good evening. CNN, though, continues.