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North Korea Offers Reconciliation Talks, Demands Joint U.S. South Korean Military Exercises End; World Markets Dip; French President Meets Pope Francis; Saudi Prince on Syrian Civil War; Syrian Christians in Fear; Syria Peace Talks; Caught Up in History; Jamaicans Bobsled Into Sochi; Weird Winter Sports; Parting Shots: Media Frenzy as Justin Bieber Faces the Music

Aired January 24, 2014 - 8:00   ET


ATIKA SHUBERT, HOST: A symbolic message, bombs rip through the Egyptian capital on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 revolution. Tonight, we ask who is behind the attacks. And how much has changed since the fall of Mubarak.

Also this hour, a stark...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it doesn't happen here, it's not going to happen.


SHUBERT: A stark warning from Saudi Arabia on Syrian peace talks underway. The full interview is coming up.

And, well they're calling it Cool Runnings Two as the Jamaican bobsled team heads to Sochi.

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

SHUBERT: The sun has set on a horrific day of attacks in Cairo, but many fear a repeat of the violence tomorrow, the third anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Four bombings in the Cairo area killed at least six people today. And a new surveillance video shows the exact moment of the first and most powerful blast. You can see a parked car explodes outside police headquarters, killing at least four people.

Now this map shows the locations of all four attacks. The first at Abdeen, the next across the river in Dokki, and the last two in the Al- Haram district near the Giza pyramids.

Now let's go straight to Reza Sayah in Cairo for the very latest. Reza, what other details do you have of this attack? And do we know anything about who might be behind these explosions?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question, Atika. At this hour, no group has claimed responsibility. For many angry Egyptians, that doesn't matter. They're already pointing the finger, they're already blaming the Muslim Brotherhood. Even with the Muslim Brotherhood releasing a statement condemning the attack.

These are obviously difficult and uneasy times here in Egypt. And what happened today doesn't make this any easier. At least four bomb attacks throughout central Cairo, something Egyptians have not seen in recent memory. The biggest attack, the first one taking place at 6:30 a.m., the result of a car bomb. The bomb powerful enough to sheer off the facade of the building and damage nearby buildings.

Four people killed inside the headquarters, more than 40 people killed throughout the day at least three more bomb attacks. These, according to authorities smaller homemade bombs, but certainly enough to rattle Egyptians. All of this happening, Atika, one day before the big anniversary of the revolution of 2011 two years ago.

SHUBERT: You talk about that anniversary. And I remember it was the Euphoria of the revolution. But three years later it seems to be very different. How have things changed since then?

SAYAH: I'm having trouble hearing you -- having trouble hearing you, Atika.

SHUBERT: I'll repeat that question, things seem to have dramatically changed. What we're going to do is we're going to throw to your package, which I believe will show us just how much that has changed.


SAYAH: Three years ago, the streets of Cairo looked like this -- angry Egyptians, sick and tired of oppression and injustice, rose up against the iron fist rule of Hosni Mubarak and his notorious police state.

Among the most visible protesters, Wael Ghonim, a young activist who left a great job at Internet giant Google, set up a Facebook page to mobilize Egyptians and frequently pleaded his country's case on TV.

After just 18 days of protest, Mubarak was gone. The revolution seemingly complete, Ghonim's mission seemingly accomplished.

Three years after Ghonim said his dreams for Egypt had come true, those dreams seem to be in tatters. These days he lives in Dubai in large part because many in Egypt's pro-regime media no longer see him as a hero, they see him as a traitor.

This private TV channel aired a secretly recorded call with Ghonim to suggest he was a foreign agent, out for personal gain. Other attacks followed on social media, "don't believe what you hear," Ghonim replied on his Facebook page. "I'm not a traitor."

These days Ghonim is not the only one on the defensive. Accusations against him and dozens of other prominent supporters of the revolution have cropped up. Human rights groups say it's part of an intimidation campaign by Egypt's military-backed government.

It started last July with the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsy, more than 1,000 Islamist supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were killed, thousands more detained.

But then, rights groups say, authorities started going after secular activists, scores are now in jail or facing charges.

Activist Allah Abdel Fatah (ph) is in jail awaiting trial for illegal protesting and insulting the judiciary. His sister Mona Seif, founding member of the No To Military Trials campaign convicted of torching a campaign headquarters. Ahmed Maar (ph), Mohamed Adel (ph), Ahmed Douma (ph) all sentenced to three years in jail for illegal protesting.

HANY EL GAMAL, CHARGED WITH ILLEGAL PROTESTING: They are trying to frighten ordinary people.

SAYAH: Activist Hany El Gamal is charged with illegal protesting. The crackdown shows Egypt is going back to autocracy, he says.

GAMAL: This is a typical authoritarian regime.

SAYAH: In their latest report, Amnesty International said, quote, "the demands of the 25 January revolution for dignity and human rights seem further away than ever."

Authorities say they're not abusing people's rights, only going after those who break the law. They insist they're fighting for the same rights and freedoms Egyptians fought for in 2011.

Now the government seems to have popular support. Today, the army chief is Egypt's beloved hero, not Wael Ghonim or other faces of the 2011 revolution. But Egypt's embattled pro-democracy activists say don't count them out.

GAMAL: This is part of continuing the revolution.


SHUBERT: Now, we have Reza Sayah with us back live in Cairo. What can we expect, then, for the actual anniversary that's happening tomorrow?

SAYAH: That's so hard to tell, Atika. And these events have further plunged this country into a deep sense of uncertainty. And many people don't know where this country is headed.

What we can tell you is that there's this military-backed interim government that's pushing with what they're describing as a transition to democracy and then you have opponents of this government, the Muslim Brotherhood, supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsy, and increasingly secular activists who claim that this is not a legitimate leadership.

And then you have a low level insurgency that's seemingly shifting into something more serious. And that was signaled by the four bomb attacks today in Central Cairo, Atika.

SHUBERT: Well, thank you very much for staying on top of that. That's Reza Sayah for us live in Cairo.

Now there's much more on this story on our website, including powerful images taken just after the bombings in Cairo. That's at

Now still to come tonight, as negotiations continue in Ukraine, can the European Union help put an end to the unrest.

Plus, as Argentina's currency continues to fall, we look at the challenges facing the emerging market.

And also ahead, a new film looks back at Tehran's Israeli community before it was caught up in the revolution. All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


SHUBERT: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Atika Shubert. Welcome back.

Now there's been something of a breakthrough at talks in Geneva on Syria's civil war. UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi says delegates from the Syrian government and the opposition will meet in the same room on Saturday.

Now a face-to-face meeting had been scheduled for today, but the warring sides refuse to come to the table.

Well, stay with us on Connect the World. We will be live in Geneva later in the show.

Now, in the Ukraine, tensions remain high on the streets of Kiev today as the country's president met with a senior European Union official to discuss the recent violence. Anti-government demonstrators spent the day fortifying barricades in the Ukrainian capital. Violence flared after new laws were introduced aimed at limiting protests.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is also set to travel to Ukraine next week.

Now for more on this, I'm joined in Kiev by CNN's Diana Magnay.

Now you've been on the streets all day, Diana, tell us what is the mood there like? How are both protesters and police preparing for this stalemate in the days ahead?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the protesters have pretty much dug themselves in, in a second square and the area where all the violence has been going on, which just two days ago was a sort of sea of flames is now pretty much occupied by the protesters who were built huge barricades there as well. And they are -- and have been standing on those barricades around fires all day with the riot police standing opposite them.

There is a truce that has -- that was called when the opposition started talks with Mr. Yanukovych two days ago. That truce is still holding. But overnight, Atika, we had situations in six municipal authorities, six regional authorities around western and central Ukraine which were taken over by anti-government protesters. So it would appear as though this unrest is spreading.

Also worth mentioning, Atika, today there was the funeral in the city of Levief (ph) for an activist Yuri Verbitski (ph) who was taken from a hospital by unknown assailants with another activist, beaten very, very badly and he was left for dead in the woods. And you can see the pictures from that funeral, a huge funeral in Levief (ph).

And it is pictures like this, it is reports of torture within police custody that are inflaming the crowds who say that they want nothing other than President Yanukovych to go -- Atika.

SHUBERT: Now we'll have to see whether or not that truce for now holds. Thank you very much. That is Diana Magnay for us live in Kiev.

Well, state media in Russia say the former business partner of a high profile Kremlin critic has been released from prison. Platon Lebedev was released early under a ruling by Russia's supreme court that reduced his sentence.

Now he's the latest high profile prisoner to be freed in Russia as the country prepares to host next month's winter Olympics in Sochi.

Now we're also getting a heartbreaking stories from Quebec where searchers face another excruciating day at what used to be a home for the elderly. At least five people are confirmed dead after a fire swept through the complex. Dozens of people are still missing. Paula Newton now joins us live by phone with an update.

Paula, do we have any more indication of what may have started this fire?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at all. And investigators are very clear in saying, look, we're not ruling anything out at this point.

The problem, though, is that right now the entire site remains encased in ice. They doused the fire with so much water, the temperatures here are just freezing cold. And right now they were still trying to get to perhaps as many as 30 people missing in the remains of that fire.

It -- they call it a colossal task. They don't know how long it's going to take. And in the meantime, very few people can understand why this would happen to this nursing home. Atika, by all accounts, it was well maintained. They had done evacuation drills. There is some confusion as to whether or not it had sprinkler systems.

But Atika, you can imagine people in this community thinking and seeing, in some cases, those vulnerable people, people in their 80s, who were immobilized. They needed walkers or wheelchairs just basically helpless as this incredible inferno engulfed their residence -- Atika.

SHUBERT: It must be especially heartbreaking for family members who entrusted their elderly relatives in -- to the care of this home. Have the families been speaking out at this time?

NEWTON: They have, but mostly in grief. And certainly they also don't know what happened. I spoke to a woman who lost her brother. She doesn't have any confirmation of that, but of course she assumes that he died. And she says, look, we don't know what happened. We just didn't expect this. We certainly thought that the home was in fantastic shape, that's what it looked like. And she said it's a very heavy burden to bear right now for the entire community just thinking about the last months of their loved ones.

SHUBERT: Yeah, such a sad story. Well, thank you very much. Paula Newton for covering that for us in Quebec.

Now at the end of a week that has been rife with global diplomatic tensions it seems at least North Korea wants to get along. North Korea has sent a letter to South Korea asking for, quote, reconciliation and unity.

But as Paula Hancocks tells us from Seoul, South Korea is taking a cautious approach.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It could be seen as an olive branch, but it is one that's been extended and withdrawn a number of times in the past. So inevitably, the response on both sides of the Pacific is cautious.

The National Defense Commission of North Korea on Friday morning after to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity, saying it would work to, quote, "completely halt hostile military acts, realize the reunion of separated families and relatives, and reenergize multifaceted North/South cooperation and exchanges.

South Korea says Pyongyang's words must now be followed up by action and not provocations as has happened in the past.

The Unification Ministry rejected the North's demands to cancel U.S.- South Korean military drills starting next month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): North Korea has recently been strengthening training of special forces who specialize in South Korean airports. In this situation, it doesn't make sense that the North is denouncing our annual defensive military drills and demands to halt it.

HANCOCKS: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is here in Seoul and has visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. He warns against falling for Pyongyang's cycle of behavior.

SEN. MACO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: It began with some level of provocation, followed by letters like this and then they're right back to the provocations again. But there's been a steady pace in the direction that they're headed now. And further complicating it is you're not necessarily dealing with a government, you're dealing with what's the equivalent of a criminal syndicate that runs a territory.

HANCOCKS: The U.S. has also said that the military drills with South Korea will go ahead. The question now is will that cause Pyongyang to change its tone. And will there be tensions on the peninsula as there were this time last year.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


SHUBERT: Thailand's constitutional court says elections planned for February could be delayed. Now that move may please anti-government demonstrators. They've been on the streets of Bangkok for months rallying against prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. They want to replace her with an administration that is an unelected, quote, "people's council."

French President Francois Hollande met with Pope Francis at the Vatican today. The meeting comes in the midst of a media storm over Hollande's alleged affair with an actress. CNN's Jim Bittermann has more on their visit.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Today is the Catholic Church day of St. Francis. It was very appropriate that Francois Hollande and Pope Francis got together. But that's about the only Catholic matter, the two men would probably agree on. Francois Hollande, the French president, once said that he is an atheist. He's never benefit from the sacrament of marriage, even though he's had several female partners and raised four children by one of them.

And his party stands behind loosened rules for abortion and same-sex marriage, the kinds of things that the pope probably does not look too kindly upon.

On global matters, the two men were able to agree on some things. Francois Hollande came out and faced the press after his meeting and said that they had agreed on some topics like Syria and some of the African countries, what to do about conflicts there and that sort of thing. But he wouldn't take any questions and that was probably to avoid any tough questions about his personal life.

Meanwhile, on the same day his partner, Valerie Trierweiler, who he said is the first lady of France in fact announced that she is going to fly off to India on a fundraising trip. That is a controversial, because it's not clear whether she still is the first lady. The fundraising trip will be paid for by the charity she's going to be speaking at.

But in fact there's a question about whether she should represent France anymore if she's not going to be the first lady.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


SHUBERT: Now we're also hearing Pope Francis may be U.S. bound. Vatican sources tell us the pontiff wants to attend a church meeting in Philadelphia on September of 2015. Officials say there aren't any firm plans at this point. The pope is from Latin America. And such a visit would certainly resonate with the growing Latino Population in the Us.

Well, live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, world markets take a turn for the worse. We'll tell you why Argentina may be to blame.

Neither a lack of snow nor a lack of money are holding back the Jamaican bobsled team. Their journey to Sochi is coming up.


SHUBERT: It has been a rough day on the global markets as concerns about a number of emerging economies triggered a selloff. The Dow is dropping late -- in late trading today, while Germany's Dax and Japan's NIKKEI both ended the trading week on a low note. And Argentina's MERVAL is down almost 4 percent.

For more on today's market woes and the wider view from the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, we turn to CNN's Richard Quest in Davos. Richard, I know that Argentina has had a lot of problems with its currency. Is that what's behind this selloff today?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think what's behind the selloff is a case of the chickens coming home to roost, certainly in the case of Argentina.

The very sharp fall in the peso stands some 16 percent after the government of President Kirchner decided to devalue the currency.

Now that has had a ripple effect. We've known that the Argentinian economy is not in the best of health. In fact that might be being rather charitable. But what you are seeing tonight is a sort of transmission mechanism of worry.

Markets have risen very sharply over the last six months. And some of that is now being given back.

So we need to divorce quite clearly here, Atika, between the Argentinian situation and all those other markets.

Yes, they are related, but let's just stick with Argentina for one second. I spoke to the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde. Now the relationship between the fund and Argentina has been frosty at best, but I asked her if Argentina is getting into financial trouble the fund may have to bail the country out.


CHRISTINE LAGARDE, IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR: We welcome that call. We haven't had a -- you know, a review of the Argentinian economy since 2006. We are not really sure about the actual status of the economy and we like to go under the skin of any economy that is a member of the IMF. So that call is more than welcome.

QUEST: And you're ready to help if necessary?

LAGARDE: We're ready to do the job that we do for all members in the membership.


QUEST: This would be extraordinarily embarrassing for the Argentinian government, for President Kirchner, if she did have to go cap in hand to the IMF. But then I suppose that's what the fund is there for.

Now Atika, back to the other markets -- and obviously you've got this worry about emerging markets, whether it's Colombia or Turkey or Argentina or Brazil, any of the big emerging markets. And now you have earnings worries as well. You've got a market that was already overbought. Put it all together and you end up with a tumble like you're seeing tonight.

SHUBERT: Well, Richard, I know you've been right in the thick of all the action in Davos this week at the World Economic Forum, so what have been the highlights for you?

QUEST: I think the highlights -- having done more than my fair share of Davoses, I think the highlight this is just that there's no crisis. It's been quite reassuring and quite refreshing to see people having those conversations about, well, what do you think we should do next? And where should the global economy go? How do we deal with the question of inequality? What are the correct ways to look at women's rights issues, gay rights issues, all these sort of things?

Now, I have to also be a frank and say they're a long way from being out of crisis mode. And we won't see that Davos at its best until the crisis is over. But progress indeed.

SHUBERT: That is very encouraging news. Well, thank you very much. That's Richard Quest for us live in Davos.

Well, the latest World News Headlines just ahead. Plus, same time, same room. Both sides in Syria's peace talks reach a key breakthrough, but will they be on the same page? We are live in Geneva.

And as tensions between Israel and Iran remain high, a new film looks back at a time when things were different. We visit Tehran before the revolution.

Plus, luge, what is that? Well, we ask Londoners about the different sports we'll see at the upcoming Winter Olympics.


SHUBERT: This is CONNECT THE WORLD, the top stories this hour. Egyptian authorities are investigating four bombings across Cairo today. Surveillance video captured the moment one blast hit police headquarters. At least six people were killed in the attacks. Another six were killed in clashes across Egypt between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Demonstrators in Ukraine are burning barricades in the streets of Kiev as tensions remain high over a new law aimed at limiting protest. These are live pictures coming into us now. You can see there some of the flames in the streets of Kiev. President Viktor Yanukovych met with a senior European Union official over the recent unrest.

Five people are confirmed dead and 30 others are missing in Quebec, Canada, after a fire at a home for the elderly. Police say many of the residents were confined to wheelchairs. The water used to douse the flames quickly turned to ice, complicating the search for victims.

And both sides in the Syrian peace talks have agreed to meet in the same room tomorrow. Negotiations have been taking place in Switzerland, and a spokesman for the Syrian National Council says the organization will not talk to the government directly but will only address US special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

Well, inside Syria -- excuse me. Right now, we're going to go to a package inside Syria. Some say Syria's war isn't just a conflict between forces inside the country, but one that pits Iran against Saudi Arabia. We heard Iran's position earlier this week. President Rouhani said elections should be the driver of any political change.

And we've now had the view from Saudi Arabia. Its former ambassador to the US spoke to our John Defterios in Davos.


PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL, FORMER SAUDI ARABIAN AMBASSADOR TO US: If it doesn't happen here, it's not going to happen. And I think this is what the world has to face and take action.

I have described Syria as a festering wound. And festering wounds, they collect all the worst bacteria that can come together in one place. And this is what is happening in Syria. You have all of these groups, crazies from Shia, Sunni, other groups fighting there. And they're terribly, terribly destructive. So we have to get them out of Syria, and the world community has a responsibility in that.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Your Highness, you know the counter argument that there's a proxy war being fought in Syria with Saudi Arabia on one side and Iran on the other, and this is supporting this Sunni-Shia divide. So are you willing to back out of this process to allow a settlement to take place? This is the counter argument.

AL-FAISAL: Well, I don't think it's a counter argument, I think it's a good argument. And the answer to that is that if there is an interim government, as Geneva I, Security Council resolution that was aborted by the Russians and the Chinese, and now Geneva II can have the authority to maintain the state structure in Syria.

And through that, establish law and order, if you like, with the support of the world community, then all of these groups will, by the nature of the situation, disappear.

They come from outside. They come from places like the United States, the UK, the Arab world, Muslim world, from Iraq, from Iran, from all over. So, once you have a good and authoritative government in place, they will not have a place for there with the government.

DEFTERIOS: Well, with all due respect, it looks like Bashar al-Assad is more entrenched than ever. He plans to run for reelection.


AL-FAISAL: I disagree. Well, that's wishful thinking. How can you run for an election in a country that's 75 percent destroyed, with bombings taking every day taking place on all the towns and villages, how can you run an election? It is just propaganda and bombast.

And frankly, after the way he conducted himself with the Syrian people, killing so many in documented authority and affidavits and photographs and witnesses, how can one expect him to even claim to have any legitimacy in that situation?

DEFTERIOS: Well, the US and Russia don't seem to have the stomach or the will at this stage to intervene. They did so with the chemical weapons, but to unseat him from power, do you actually see that happening as part of this process?

AL-FAISAL: Well, I think this is the big test, as I said. And the Geneva I called for an interim government with full authority. Geneva II was based on Geneva I, which presumably will come to the conclusion that there is an interim government with full authority.

So, if there is an interim government with full authority, there's no place for Assad there. And how there can be disagreement on how to interpret the term "interim government with full authority," I don't understand.


SHUBERT: Now, you've heard there the view from outside Syria, one of the key actors there, Saudi Arabia. But inside Syria, some Christian communities are afraid of what might happen to them if al-Assad loses power.

Well, Frederik Pleitgen was given a government tour of one of those communities, the town of Saidnaya. But first, a warning. His report does contain some graphic images.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A statue of Jesus Christ watches over the Syrian town, Saidnaya. But at the savior's feet, a gruesome sight: dozens of badly mutilated and charred bodies. The dead are rebel fighters who tried to storm a monastery at the top of the hill, says the regime.

"They attacked from a village on that mountain back there," this fighter says, "and destroyed our front gate."

The Cherubim Monastery is not a civilian target these days. It's filled with pro-Assad fighters, mostly Christians, and some regular Syrian army forces as well. There's artillery, tanks, and mortars stationed inside.

PLEITGEN (on camera): The fighters here say that in the past couple of days, there's been a massive increase in the violence in this area. They say that in the past few days alone, 40 mortars either hit inside the monastery or around the premises. And if you look outside, that burned-out vehicle also was destroyed in the recent attack.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Saidnaya is an ancient town with a strong Christian heritages. Rebels have often accused Syria's Christians of collaborating with the Assad regime. This social media video allegedly shows Sunni towns getting shelled from the monastery at the top of the hill above Saidnaya, though we cannot independently verify its authenticity.


PLEITGEN: But many of Syria's Christians feel threatened by the uprising against Bashar al-Assad. In recent months, one of the main Christian towns was stormed by Islamist rebels. A group of nuns was kidnapped. Many fear Christians could be pushed out of Syria altogether.

"I don't just think so, I'm certain they are targeting us because we're Christian. They are targeting us, and we've had many attacks," says this Christian fighter.

Syria's splintered rebel groups have done little to assure Christians that they'd be welcome in a post-Assad country. So as the regime and opposition try to negotiate in Geneva, many Christians here fear an end of the Assad regime could lead to even tougher times for Syria's Christian community.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Saidnaya, Syria.


SHUBERT: Well, as we can see in that report, minorities feeling even more threatened in Syria while there is still an increasingly desperate humanitarian need to stop the conflict. But is there any progress at peace talks? Well, let's get the latest from our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. He is in Geneva where those talks are taking place.

So, there does seem to be some progress, Nic, but it seems to be incremental progress at best. What happened today?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, incremental at best. And perhaps really it can be measured, actually, as not progress at all because it was always hoped or planned that these talks should bring the two sides face to face in the same room.

The day started with the opposition saying that unless the government moved on the issue of a transitional government, i.e. made it clear that President Bashar al-Assad wouldn't be part of that transitional government that they, the opposition, wouldn't get into face-to-face talks.

And then the government side, the foreign minister, said earlier in the day that the government side would leave unless the opposition got into face-to-face talks by Saturday. Now we've been told by Lakhdar Brahimi, who's spoken separately with both sides today, that he will have them in the same room Saturday.

But barely had he announced that, then the opposition were briefing, well, they might be in the same room, but they won't be talking directly to the government. They'll be directing all their conversations through Lakhdar Brahimi, and they've also got a list of things that -- of the agenda the way they want it to go, Atika.

SHUBERT: In the same room, but not talking to each other. Well, limited progress, indeed. Thank you very much, Nic Robertson for us, live in Geneva. He'll be following those talks as they continue.

And you can get full coverage of the Syrian civil war on our website. Head to, where you can also read a report by UNICEF ambassador and actress Lucy Liu about the country's refugee crisis. And you can also find out where you can donate to help those affected.

Well, live from London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, looking back at a forgotten chapter in Iranian history. How Tehran's Israeli community was swept up in the changing tides of history.

And they're calling it Cool Runnings 2. The Jamaican bobsled team is defying the odds to complete -- to compete, excuse me -- at the Sochi Olympics. Coming up, we'll tell you how.


SHUBERT: Tensions between Israel and Iran have been high in recent years. Both sides have made threats against the other, whether it's Iran's sometimes inflammatory rhetoric or Israel's talk of air strikes. Although Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani has said the country's nuclear program is not aimed at building weapons, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN he does not trust those statements.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Of course they want nuclear weapons, and of course they want to have sanctions relief. But they haven't changed their basic policies. I wish it were true. I wish he meant and did what he said.


SHUBERT: But it wasn't always this way. During the 1960s and 70s, thousands of Israelis lived freely in Tehran, even enjoying a special relationship with the Shah's regime. But that all changed as revolution took hold in the country. CNN spoke with the director of "Before the Revolution," a new film tracing the story of how Tehran's Israeli community was caught up in the tide of history. Take a look.


DAN SHADUR, DIRECTOR, "BEFORE THE REVOLUTION": My family lived in Tehran for a couple of years. I lived there. I spent my first year there. And it used to be very intriguing, over the years, having these family photos from Iran while growing up as an Israeli in the 80s and 90s, Iran is like this big demonic thing that is the most scary and the most horrible thing in the world.

And there was this gap that was always intriguing for me. And then I started looking into it, and I realized that this thing of Israelis living in Iran was a very big thing, much bigger than I thought. It was very intimate relationships covering commerce and intelligence and military. And there was a very big -- it wasn't only us. There was a very large Israeli community living in Tehran.

So, I think on the surface, the first thing that was interesting for me was to put a spotlight on this story, saying this big rift that we know today didn't exist for so long. It was only different, it was kind of the opposite not so long ago.

But for Israelis, it was a very big change. It was a very big change of what they could get in Israel and what they could do in Iran. So, that was an opportunity, and that's how I grew up, having this -- hearing all these stories about our beautiful days in Tehran.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, "BEFORE THE REVOLUTION" (through translator): Yesterday, we celebrated at the embassy, drinking and dancing until morning. The costumes were amazing, and the music was great. With all our friends around, we felt like we're back in Tel Aviv.

SHADUR: The other thing that was very intriguing for me when I started researching the story was realizing that these happy days of our weren't so happy for many others.

And this revolution that was always portrayed to me as this dark force coming and driving us away from our paradise was actually something deeply- rooted with some very good causes for the Iranian people, no matter that what happened later wasn't what many of them hoped for.

In the Israeli sense, it's very interesting for me, because when I started researching and shooting, and I actually met the people, and the protagonist, the -- most of them are well-off, and that's how we shot the film. You see their environment today.

And I felt -- they were talking about this political thriller in the 70s in Tehran, and I was feeling they were talking about Tel Aviv today, because this bubble of good life while everything is totally falling apart or some horrible things going on around us, it's still happening today.

So, it's still happening, when I live in Tel Aviv and there's a brutal occupation just a few hours -- just an hour from where I live.

The scene where Nissim Levi, the security guard from the embassy, who was very young at the time, finds himself one of the -- as part of a demonstration in Tehran, and he's kind of -- he's just walking straight. He looks like an Iranian. And he finds himself in this huge and bloody demonstration, being fired at.

And it's a great cinematic scene with some action and some thrills, but more importantly, it brings him to identify with the other. He's a very -- this guy is a very unique voice in the film. He's kind of the only one who actually looks at the Iranian people looking for freedom and searching for change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "BEFORE THE REVOLUTION" (through translator): It was part of us, in spite of all our patriotism. And suddenly, you see people who are willing to go all the way. I admire them, but on the other hand, I'm opposed to them.

SHADUR: And it's interesting to think about it today, when you look at Netanyahu speak, because -- something that the film shows is a certain sensitivity -- insensitivity of some Israeli officials, and officials to the hidden streams of the Iranian revolution, of the people asking for justice.

And when I see Netanyahu today talking about the hope of many Iranians for change and dismissing it as kind of deceivements (sic) or something like that, I think it kind of echos this kind of blindness and this kind of not feeling what the people want and not being able to bring something positive to the area.


SHUBERT: You can see in that film, despite some history of co- existence, today's tensions show no sign of letting up. CNN spoke at length with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani this week. Our Fareed Zakaria asked him how he'd respond if Israel did attack.


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS": What would happen if Israel were to launch a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities?

HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): Israel will not do that. Israel knows very well what the response would be. These are empty slogans. When it comes to practice, the Israelis cannot do that. If they do such a crazy thing, our response will make them rue the day.


SHUBERT: And you can see more of Fareed Zakaria's sit-down interview with Iranian President Rouhani, hear about Iran's nuclear deal with the West, and find out what's behind Rouhani's new attitude. That's on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sunday at 20:00 in London.

Well, coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, a quick pop quiz: does Curling or Skeleton ring a bell? Well, stay with us as we explain some of the more unknown sports of the Winter Olympics.


SHUBERT: In two weeks' time, the eyes of the world will be on Sochi as the Winter Olympics kick off. And while athletes from cold climates tend to dominate, one tropical nation is once again taking its place at the Winter Games. The Jamaican bobsled team is back, having qualified for the first time since 2002. CNN's Don Riddell has more.


DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're the hottest thing on ice. For the first time in more than a decade, the biggest underdogs in bobsledding have defied the odds and qualified for the Olympic Games.

But before packing their bags for Sochi, the Jamaican bobsled team had one problem: money. They needed a lot of it, more than $80,000 to cover travel and equipment fees.

So, the turned to the internet. Two online campaigns helped the team raise more than double the amount of cash they were hoping for. One online fundraiser was started by an average Olympics fan, and anyone who donated $50 or more got a free t-shirt featuring the hash tag, #CoolRunnings2.

It was the popular 1993 Disney movie, "Cool Runnings," which chronicled the Olympic journey of Jamaica's first bobsled team and made them one of the most famous teams in the sport.

JOHN CANDY AS IRVING "IRV" BLITZER, "COOL RUNNINGS": Remember, we don't have to win the gold in the first day. Just like any other run.

LEON AS DERICE BANNOCK, "COOL RUNNINGS": Except this time, 100 million people watching.

CANDY AS BLITZER: Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!

RIDDELL: But after missing the last two Winter Olympics, the Jamaican bobsledders were determined to qualify for Sochi.

WINSTON WATT, CAPTAIN, JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM: This is -- it's such a really, really great feeling, just like you see Usain Bolt winning so much races, you know? That's how we are feeling right now.

RIDDELL: The former captain, Winston Watt, came out of retirement to lead the team. He's eight years older than any bobsledder who's ever qualified for the Olympics.


WATT: A lot of people ask me -- ask us if we are really crazy, coming from this tropical country doing this sport. But sometimes, I really look into myself and say that, yes, we are really crazy.

But on the other side of it, it's not many people can say they are from a tropical country, been out there, and do a sport which is a winter sport, and we're so good at it.

RIDDELL: And thanks to people from all over the world who are inspired by their story, they'll now have another shot at Olympic glory.

Don Riddell, CNN, Atlanta.


SHUBERT: Well, there will be 15 different sports events at Sochi, and some of them you might not be familiar with: curling, luge, short track, skeleton, those are just a few of them. We asked people here in London what they think they are.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Curling, you throw the heavy lead thing and --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- across the thing and try to get it into the target.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm thinking it's like bowling, but they have these little sticks that they smooth out the ice with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're throwing stones to a marker in the middle of the ice.

TEXT: Curling: Two teams brush stones across the ice to a central target. The team with the stones closest to the center wins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is short track a sport where you go over hills and mountains, or --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- with the skates. Very fast. Always.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ice skate around a track.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Short track is ice skating with a number of people in a short ice skating track.

TEXT: Short Track: Speed skating with 32 athletes racing on a small 111.12 meter track.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've not the slightest idea. Sounds like food.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's bobsled time! Yes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jamaica, oh, they have a bobsled team!

TEXT: Luge: One of two-person sledding down an artificial ice track.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Skeleton. A part of skeleton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Skiing and shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it the thing where you go through the tube in ice?

TEXT: Skeleton: One-person sledding down an artificial ice track. Athletes lie face-down.


SHUBERT: Well, if that was a pop quiz for me, I would've completely failed. With the Olympics Opening Ceremonies just two weeks away, we want to hear from you. Which sports are you excited to see at the Winter Games, and which athletes will you be watching? Have your say at

And in tonight's Parting Shots, pop star Justin Bieber is out on bail after his arrest on charges of drunken driving, resisting arrest, and driving without a valid license. But the fan frenzy and media circus around the 19-year-old's legal woes shows no sign of letting up. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes us behind the scenes.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his jail jumpsuit, Justin Bieber faced the music, and we don't mean his own.


WHOOPIE GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW": Baby, this is the biggest mistake you could make.

MOOS: At 19, his first mug shot. Anchors alternated between analyzing his expression --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's smiling from ear to ear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I wouldn't be smiling if I were you, young Justin Drew Bieber.

MOOS: -- and analyzing his hair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at that hair! I mean, really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His hair looks spectacular.

MOOS: Reminiscent of young Frank Sinatra when he was arrested for adultery in 1938. One joker tweeted, "The Justin Bieber mug shots are in, and they're incredible."

The press wanted more than a mug shot. Photographers clung desperately to police station gates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you, Justin!

MOOS: They rested their cameras on their heads, got yelled at by police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey! Get off the frigging car!

MOOS: They peered --


MOOS: -- through jailhouse chain-link fencing.


MOOS: And when Bieber was freed, they finally got a decent shot when he momentarily perched on top of an SUV.


MOOS: Remind you of anyone? Say, Michael Jackson waving after pleading not guilty to charges of child molestation? Bieber sped off, leaving photographers in his dust.


MOOS (on camera): And then, there's the minor matter of how to refer to the pop star.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we have to talk about Biebs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police say that Biebs' friends --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he was apparently with the Biebs this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bieber, you are charged with the following --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going on with Justin?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I would say Justin Timberlake, if he decides - -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justin Bieber. Oh, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Timberlake's a great guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I apologize, Timberlake!

MOOS (voice-over): Online jokes like this circulated, captioned "photo of Justin Bieber being arrested." The arrest and mug shot will have the impersonators mugging --


MOOS: From SNL to Jimmy Fallon.

JIMMY FALLON, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": I'm Justin Bieber, and I'm going to reflect for a minute, if that's cool with you.

MOOS: But will the real Justin Bieber reflect on his downward spiral while we obsess about his hair or photoshop his makeup? At least his mug shot didn't look like Nick Nolte's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of volumizer that Justin Bieber uses in his hair, because a lot of go through great lengths to try to get that sort of height.

MOOS: Height? Seems like a new low.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you so much!

MOOS: -- New York.


SHUBERT: That's enough of the Biebs, and that's all for CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Atika Shubert, thanks for watching.