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CONNECT THE WORLD

The Search For MH 370 Continues; Islamic Jihad Announces Ceasefire With Israel; Bashar al-Assad Visits Displaced Citizens

Aired March 13, 2014 - 16:00   ET

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


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: And tonight we bring you breaking news on the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet as new developments suggest that the plane was transmitting data hours after previously thought.

Now we're going to have the very latest on that in a moment. We're also covering for you this hour another big story as Ukraine's interim prime minister addresses the United Nations. Not everyone, though, is listening to what he has to say in the Crimean peninsula. They're getting down to business with preparations for Sunday's referendum well underway.

We're going to have the view from Washington, Ukraine and from Moscow.

First, though, I want to get you to the story of the hour, as it were. We are piecing together what is sometimes, ofttimes very conflicting information to provide some context for you on this missing Malaysia airliner.

Let's join our sister network and Jake Tapper.

(SIMULCAST WITH CNN USA)

ANDERSON: Well, let's break away from Jake Tapper's show to bring you viewers some more analysis. We're trying to get as much as we can on what is a sometimes, ofttimes conflicting story here. It's a mystery, isn't it.

David Gallo is a top oceanographer who helped in the search for the Titanic and co-led the successful international effort to locate the remains of Air France Flight 447 back in 2011. He's director of special projects at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

Sir, thank you for joining us. Long introduction there.

I'm going to give you a very short question. What do you read into what are hearing today?

DAVID GALLO, WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTE: First, I'm astounded at this. You know, it's been perplexing all along, but this latest twist, several twists about how long the plane may have been airborne has really thrown me for a loop.

I hope this is true. I hope this sticks, because it's one thing we can begin to cling on to as a solid bit of evidence.

ANDERSON: I want our viewers just before we continue to talk to be reminded of how in the past, and one assumes on a regular basis, planes are communicated with -- hold on, David. A lot of people following this story have been wondering just how a plane goes missing. Certainly I want to know, you probably have, especially for you think that many of us have access to GPS technology on our phones, for example.

Planes also do have GPS, but they use that to show pilots their position on a map. Most of the systems a plane uses to communicate its position are radar based and not satellite based. First, there's secondary radar, radio signals sent to the plane and are then beamed back its transmitter responder, or transponder -- we're heard that being talked about over the last six days. And each plane transmits a unique code so you can know the identity, speed and location of the aircraft.

Then there is primary radar. This is older technology. And it's used as a backup. It can only show the position of a plane and cannot identify it.

And finally there is this, the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS. Now this is a data service that allows computers on a plane to basically talk to computers on the ground using either radio or satellite signal.

David, from what we understand today learning from the Malaysians and also from the U.S. what is it? Where did this radar? Where did this radar, where did this signal from this plane come from and potentially as we know it could be over the Indian Ocean.

GALLO: From what I understand, the -- initially it was said that this ACARS that you speak of -- in Air France 447 that was critical to our being able to find that aircraft, because we knew that Air France 447 got in trouble it sent off four minutes of that ACARS data and then it stopped abruptly. And so we thought the plane must have been airborne four minutes. And going full speed that would have meant about 40 miles. And so we were able to draw a circle on the ocean and say, well, somewhere in this circle with a radius of 40 miles is that aircraft. And ultimately that led to the discovery of the plane.

In this case, initially they said there was a burst of ACARS data that stopped before the transponder was turned off. And then they said no, it continued after for many hours. Then they retracted that, corrected that, and so now we're back to yes in fact the satellites were picking up data from the plane for four or five hours afterwards.

And, you know, I find that astounding. That -- you know, that's a huge area. A plane can go 500, 600 nautical miles in that -- every hour, so that's a huge amount of space.

But, you know, if it was along a straight line with an incapacitated crew going until it ran out of fuel, then that gives us some idea where to begin looking.

So -- but up until now, we've had every shred of evidence to hold on to the last known position, for instance, has been taken away. So this is solid evidence, I hope.

ANDERSON: We all hope, of course. And lest we forget, there are families still waiting for news on this.

Let's take you back to your experience with the Air France Flight 447. If you were working on this process now with the information that you have, what would you be doing next? This is now the Indian Ocean.

GALLO: Yeah, well, the first thing -- you know, up until moments ago I would have said, you know, where -- knowing where the plane isn't is also important information. So let's begin surveying the sea floor, which is very shallow in the Gulf of Thailand. It's about 60 meters, a couple of hundred feet of water depth. So in fact it's shallower than the plane is long. But let's look, because if the plane is not there, there's no -- we don't even need to worry about looking at the surface anymore.

But now that we've moved off into the Indian Ocean, and it sounds like this is going to stick, then I think the first thing we can do is start collecting information on currents, on winds, all the kind of information we need so that if we begin to find bits of the plane on the sea surface, we can backtrack those. Seven days now, a week, it's going to be difficult to do, but there are experts in that that actually can make those models.

So we -- but we need to give them information about what the winds have been doing, what the currents have been doing, and we should be collecting that kind of information.

The other thing we should be doing is mobilizing for a much different kind of search, because the water depths in the Indian Ocean can get upwards of 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 meters in some spots depending on where we're talking about, very different from the shallow waters of the Gulf of Thailand. And it would require much different kinds of equipment to search the sea floor there.

ANDERSON: Yeah, and I want to take you once again back to the experience that you had in recovering the -- in the recovery project for that flight.

What were the biggest challenges?

GALLO: Right.

Well, it was a flight that people -- a plane that people never thought would be found, because it landed in a remote area with very little ship traffic, almost none and scant air traffic. So witnesses, no one to look for wreckage. It was five days in that case, I thought that was a long time, before the first bits of that plane were found floating on the sea surface.

But the seafloor below where the plane eventually sank is an underwater mountain range, extremely rugged, one of the most rugged mountains on earth, sitting at a depth up to about 6,000 meters. So it was a very remote and hostile terrain for us to be able to work in. And it did require some very sophisticated tools.

You know, we're looking for the bits of a tiny needle in a very large haystack. And it required the right team, the right technology, the right game plan, a little bit of luck and a lot of prayer. But we got the job done.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right, David, thank you very much indeed for that.

As we bring you as much information as we have, still bits of breaking news tonight on what is this mystery on this Malaysia aircraft. Pieces together I say what is sometimes, it feels ofttimes conflicting information as to provide some sort of context for you viewers on what is this mystery.

Looking to the west, it seems, is where investigators and this investigation is now going with information that this plane may have flown for a number of hours after the last transponder signal. Stay with us on CNN as we get that information on that flight, we will bring it to you, of course.

This is Connect the World. Still to come tonight, the crisis in Ukraine is also top of the agenda and certainly is, though, at a UN security council meeting happening right now. We're going to do that after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Right, you're back with CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson.

Let's get you a look at some of the other stories that we are following for you this hour.

And Ukraine's interim prime minister has called on Russia to pull back its military forces in Crimea and to start talks to end the crisis.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk addressed a meeting of the UN security council a short while ago. This is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARSENIY YATSENYUK, INTERIM UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER: My country has faced a military aggression of a neighboring country, which is the P5 member. This aggression has no reasons and no grounds. This is absolutely and entirely unacceptable in the 21st Century to resolve any kind of conflict with tanks, artillery and boots on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: We are waiting for the Russian ambassador to the UN to speak. It does seem quite remarkable that there is a security council meeting with Russia as a permanent member in an effort to find some sort of resolution on a crisis that you're looking at here on the ground.

So far it seems known of the complaints from the Ukrainian interim leader have succeeded in changing Moscow's thinking. We may hear differently when the ambassadors start speaking, but first the Russian military began new exercises involving more than 8,000 close to Ukraine's eastern border.

Much more on this story from all angle coming up here this hour on CNN.

Well, after two days of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel and attacks by Israel in return, a ceasefire was declared early today. But shortly after the truce was agreed, two rockets were fired from Gaza in Israel's direction. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has the very latest from Jerusalem this evening.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Islamic Jihad say they have a ceasefire mediated with Egypt. Israel's prime minister spokesman and the Israeli defense force spokesman both have no comment about that ceasefire, however Israel's defense minister says quiet will be met with quiet. He also said it was Islamic Jihad's fault that this escalation and violence began, that they started it. But he also said that Hamas being the responsible authority in Gaza is responsible for security inside Gaza.

Israeli Defense Force say at least 65 missiles fired from Gaza into Israel from late Wednesday into Thursday. And Islamic Jihad say it was more than 130 missiles. Israel Defense Forces say that they struck back at 36 different targets. Two of those, according to Hamas, were tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt, the Rafa (ph) border area.

And according to Palestinian medical sources, four Palestinians wounded, critically wounded, in those strikes.

But what we are hearing from Hamas, they are saying that the Israeli government is responsible now if there is an escalation. We're also hearing that from the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who is due to meet President Obama at the weekend, both saying Israel bares a responsibility to stop the escalation.

But we also heard from Hamas who are saying that Egypt, who has outlawed Hamas as a terrorist organization has bypassed them in talking and mediating this ceasefire by going directly to Islamic Jihad.

For the moment, it appears that there is potential for the ceasefire to hold.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Oscar Pistorius became ill in court earlier at his murder trial again after gruesome images of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp's body was shown. His lawyers spent the day cross-examining a police forensic expert attempting to raise doubts about the integrity of that investigation.

CNN's Robyn Curnow has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A pistol still cocked ready to fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I'm saying, the hammer is pulled back.

CURNOW: The weapon, authorities say Oscar Pistorius used to kill his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Day nine of his murder trial saw the weapon and the crime scene revealed in vivid detail with Pistorius at times again getting physically ill -- more than 100 photos taken by police investigators after they were called to Pistorius's home

GEN. G.S. VAN RENSBURG, SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE: This is (inaudible) we found on the scene. And between the bat and he towels and on the (inaudible) on the cricket bat. And the bullet (inaudible) between the towel and the cricket bat.

CURNOW: The prosecution methodically working through each one, placing them on record, continuing to build the state's case.

Earlier in a cross examination of an expert witness, it was Pistorius's defense team putting the police on trial.

BARRY ROUX, PISTORIUS DEFENSE ATTORNEY: All I really want to know is can you remember who you spoke to?

CURNOW: Pistorius expressionless as his defense challenged the expert on the whereabouts of missing evidence he says from the bullet ridden bathroom door. And the expert also questioned about the absence of an official police form to log evidence.

ROUX: For you to have stated under oath that nowhere -- that any of those exhibits appear in the SAB 30, it can only mean one thing that it was checked and it could not be found.

COL. J.G. VERMEULEN, POLICE FORENSIC EXPERT: During the conversations I had I could not determine where it was.

CURNOW: During that cross examination, the Pistorius team took it a step further, alleging that watches went missing during the police search, calling into question the integrity of the police investigation. While the prosecution continues to focus on those photos from the scene.

Robyn Curnow, CNN, Pretoria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made a rare public appearance outside his stronghold of Damascus. Assad visited displaced Syrians in the new town of Adra (ph). Now the area was partially taken over by rebels three months ago.

In a short speech he vowed to provide basic necessities for the people, though it is not clear wheat date the visit took place.

Well, it's been nearly three years since the start of large-scale unrest in Syria. Since then, the country has descended as you are well aware into a civil war, but it's taken a horrific toll -- 2.5 million Syrians have fled abroad. And the United Nations calling for more assistance to ease the burden as a new year in the conflict begins.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMA BAHOUS, UNITED NATIONAS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: It is so sad that we are actually on the floor here of this very sad and the biggest humanitarian and developmental crisis of the world today. These 2.5 plus million refugees have fled their country in search of safety, in search of dignity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Live from London, this is Connect The World. We are waiting for the Russian ambassador to the United Nations to speak. In fact, we're going to him now. This is a security council meeting on the crisis with Ukraine, Russia and of course Crimea. Let's listen in.

(UN SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING)

ANDERSON: Well, prior to the Crimea referendum being announced, the Black Sea Fleet had nothing to do with anything that is going on in the region, so says the ambassador for Russia to the United Nations, who referred to the interim leader of Ukraine, who spoke earlier to the Security Council, as the "commandant of the Maidan," the Maidan, of course, Independence Square.

He left reference to Crimea and the referendum, which of course is three days from now, until last. He accused the West of manipulating the principles of international law, he gave a bit of a history lesson, it's got to be said, on secession, and said basically the concept of a referendum is not a unique one.

We are covering this story from all angles. Elise Labott joins us from the US State Department. She's on the diplomatic wrangling. Nick Paton Walsh is monitoring events on the ground in Ukraine, and Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow for us.

Elise, let's start with you. The US certainly has firmly said ratchet down or else this will cost you, Russia. Is there anything that you've heard out of the UN today that suggests that there is any sort of diplomatic ratcheting down at this point?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, I think you have to look at the various rhetoric that's flying around. Yesterday, the Ukrainian interim prime minister Yatsenyuk was here in Washington meeting with President Obama.

And on one hand, we've discussed yesterday a very bold statement saying we will never surrender our sovereignty. Later in the day was talking about a potential diplomatic opening, possible ways that they could satisfy Russia's interest in Ukraine, in Crimea, possibly a local referendum, possibly a nationwide referendum, possibly a dialogue on more autonomy.

Today at the United Nations, he was less forward leaning, asking the question, do the Russians want war? So, obviously, the Russians have their tough line in terms of what's going on in Crimea.

But Secretary of State Kerry, as you know, headed tonight to London to meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov and hoping they could set aside this rhetoric and talk about some kind of diplomatic formula where this Crimea referendum does not take place, but if the Ukrainians could go to elections in May, then they could have some kind of formula where there would be more autonomy for Crimea, and that would give Russia a bigger hand on the region.

ANDERSON: Elise, what's the likelihood that Kerry is going to get any movement out of Lavrov when they arrive here in London tomorrow? I know you're traveling with Kerry in New York, and you're about to get on that plane. What's the likelihood anything is going to change at this point?

LABOTT: I don't think there's a likelihood that Foreign Minister Lavrov himself is going to be empowered to negotiate anything with Secretary Kerry. He's obviously going to get his instructions from President Putin.

But over the last couple of days, you've heard President Obama, Secretary Kerry talk about trying to convince the Russians about some kind of formula short of annexation of Crimea, and perhaps that's something that's going to be the basis for these talks is Foreign Minister Lavrov could get something going with his instruction with President Putin.

Possibly, the discussions could go further. So I don't think that meeting tomorrow in London is really an indicator whether there could be some kind of solution, but I think it is a start. Although if you look at on the ground, it certainly doesn't seem like the Russians are budging.

ANDERSON: Elise, thank you for that. We will see you in London tomorrow. John Kerry on his way here to meet with his Russian counterpart. Let's get you to Ukraine. Nick Paton Walsh is there for you tonight.

And as you heard once again from this new interim Ukrainian leader who was yesterday with the US president. Today, he's speaking to the Security Council, and you heard the response from the Russians in house. Your thoughts?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think they're going anywhere diplomatically, to be honest, at this point. All eyes on Friday with Kerry and Lavrov, but no signs from either government, frankly, they see any middle ground between.

You just heard Vitaly Churkin there, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, repeating the same case we've heard before, saying that far-right extremists, the right sector, are in fact leading the charge when it comes to new administration in Kiev.

So no sign that Russia's trying to soften its rhetoric at all. In fact, even criticizing Western foreign ministers and officials for circulating amongst the protest crowd inside of Kiev.

I should point out, we've seen one demonstrator killed in the clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian demonstrations in the eastern city of Donetsk. And we're also seeing substantial Russian military maneuvers, tests, of 8,500 soldiers near Kharkiv, also on the Russian-Ukrainian border in the east.

No sign Russian's calming down on the tempos, here, slowing at all. And frankly, in Crimea, Sunday's referendum seems a done deal. We heard talk today from officials in the de facto government here, they're taking over Crimea's oil and gas fields, talking about moving to the ruble and Moscow time zone once we're through Sunday's vote.

We saw preparations ourselves today of ballot papers being got together and lists being got together, things moving very fast here, indeed, Becky.

ANDERSON: Stay with me, Nick. I want to bring Fred in from Moscow. Fred, does Moscow expect this Crimean referendum to go ahead as planned on Sunday?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, I think they're absolutely sure that it's going to go ahead, and I think they're absolutely sure that it's going to go their way, that Crimea is going to vote to become part of Moscow.

Look, I was also listening to Vitaly Churkin's speech, and one of the interesting things was that he kept referencing, as Nick just said, that agreement that was reached between Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition on February 21st.

Because all of the people that we're speaking to here in Moscow say it was that moment when everything went sour for Vladimir Putin. It was a moment when the people on the Maidan said they don't want that agreement, when Viktor Yanukovych was sent out of office, that Vladimir Putin essentially lost any sort of faith in the Western negotiators and decided that he was going to go on a hard-line in all of this.

And we've been speaking to a lot of analysts here in Moscow throughout the day, and they say at this point in time, they believe that Vladimir Putin is going to hang onto Crimea no matter what, in the face of sanctions, in the face of Russia getting kicked out of the G8. I want you to listen in to some of the things that we heard today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN (voice-over): With pro-Russian force tightening their grip on Crimea and the international community up in arms over Moscow's course, it's fair to ask, what is Vladimir Putin's thinking, and how far is he willing to go?

Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Endowment feels Russia's president is acting with both emotional conviction and strategic calculation.

DMITRI TRENIN, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: I think he believes that he's doing the right thing. I think he believes he will eventually win. I think he realized the enormity of what's now in store for him and for Russia.

PLEITGEN: That means Putin realizes Russia will likely be hit with sanctions and possibly kicked out of international groups like the G8. But Trenin says Russia's president lost confidence in the West over its handling of the Ukraine crisis and will not back down on the Crimea issue no matter the cost.

TRENIN: On the big issues, there's no flexibility. I cannot spot it. I just don't think that there is a plan B for Crimea.

PLEITGEN: And as Russia's president and his inner circle shape their strategy, they can rest assured most Russians are on their side.

PLEITGEN (on camera): Experts say possible international backlash is a major consideration for Vladimir Putin, but that he also has to factor in public opinion here at home, that demands strong leadership and a tough stance on the Crimea issue.

PLETIGEN (voice-over): In the past week, thousands protested in Moscow in support of making Crimea part of Russia. Author Viktor Yerofeyev wrote a book called "The Good Stalin," detailing many Russians' romantic view of the Soviet Empire. Putin, he believes, wants to bring back those days.

VIKTOR YEROFEYEV, AUTHOR: He likes everything that Stalin did for the grandeur of the Soviet Union, and he wants to continue. He wants this country like it was before the revolution.

PLEITGEN: Images like these fit that pattern, Russian forces in a military drill close to the Ukrainian border. A show of Russian strength viewed by the West as a provocation, but one that is almost sure to make Vladimir Putin even more popular, even as the window for a diplomatic solution seems to close further by the hour.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: So, as you can see, Becky, most people here in Moscow believe that Vladimir Putin is absolutely aware of the line that he's walking. He knows what price he's going to have to pay for Crimea, and it appears as though he is willing to pay that price.

Also in light of the fact that Russian public opinion very much favors the move that is going on, very much favors this referendum, and is getting ready to incorporate Crimea into Russia. So, it really doesn't appear as though there is very much room for diplomacy at this point, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. Fascinating. All right, thank you for that. Let's get back to Ukraine and to Nick Paton Walsh. Three and a half months ago, we were looking at the first pictures out of the Maidan, Independence Square, of people protesting a decision to sort of move away from the West, as it were. Three and a half months on, what is the mood tonight in Kiev?

WALSH: Well, I think there must be some degree of nervousness, because it does seem that they're going to lose Crimea. It seems that the West, frankly, all the talk of sanctions knows diplomacy is not going to work and is probably going to have to accept some sour responses from Moscow if they do put tough sanctions in.

John Kerry today saying they're going to look at very tough announcements on Monday if the referendum goes ahead. I think the real fear, perhaps, in Kiev must be, do the Russians stop with Crimea? We've seen these exercises near Kharkiv.

I think they may feel that Western capitals have written off Crimea as a part of Ukraine. It was not so long ago, in fact, part of the Russian part of the Soviet Union, so perhaps maybe there's a looser argument that could mean what's happening here is more broadly historically acceptable, despite it being a gross violation of sovereign territory of another state.

But I think we're in a remarkably confusing place right now, because most observers of Putin's behavior of Moscow never saw anything like this coming. I think maybe they were wrong-footed by seeing Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine, ousted, being suddenly so wrong-footed in seeing him vanish so quickly overnight.

Maybe what we're seeing in Crimea a very tough response is them reacting slightly out of hand to that. But we are in a remarkable place here. A bizarre situation, Becky. I've seen two bases here, one Ukrainian naval base surrounded by Russian special forces and buzzed by one of their attack helicopters, put under intense pressure.

And today, another Ukrainian base where half the soldiers have simply defected and gone over to the new Crimean army. So, the real question here about where the Ukrainian army goes is undecided. Becky?

ANDERSON: Yes. This is absolutely fascinating as it unfolds sort of hour by hour. Nick, thank you for that. Fred in Moscow, thank you to you, too.

There was a time, and I'm thinking about ten days ago, when the US was really not prepared to get involved, sort of outwardly, in any of the talks that were going on about Ukraine. It was all being done through the European Union.

Well, that certainly is not the case any longer. The interim leader with the US president yesterday, and today, we see the Security Council in full swing on this very issue.

Join us tomorrow for a special CONNECT THE WORLD when we explore Crimea's history, from the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War of 1850, to World War II siege of Sevastopol. We'll examine how media propaganda is shaping the present views. All that and much more, CONNECT THE WORLD, 8:00 London time, as you know, tomorrow evening.

Tonight, you're still with us. David Frost remembered by John Major as being deadly but fair. I'll tell you what else the former prime minister said during a conversation with the late David Frost's son.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall joined former British prime ministers and celebrities at London's Westminster Abbey today to celebrate the life of the legendary journalist Sir David Frost. Now, he died last year at the age of 74.

He became famous on both sides of the Atlantic for his hard-hitting interviews. Well now, Frost's son, Wilfred, looks back at his father's fascinating life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPED)

JOHN MAJOR, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: As an interviewer, he was a deadly interviewer, but he was always a fair interviewer. He didn't play cheap tricks. He didn't look for a cheap headline. His determination was to get out of the interviewee what they had to give.

WILFRED FROST, SON OF DAVID FROST: My father made a name for himself in England in the 1960s as a satirical TV host, where he reveled in lampooning members of the political establishment, won awards for his comedy, and brushed soldiers with the stars.

But his most notable achievement in the United States came when he secured a series of interviews with the former president, Richard Nixon. He paid $600,000 out of his own pocket for the interview. It was a massive gamble, but one that paid off.

DAVID FROST, JOURNALIST: In a sense, you're saying is that there are certain situations -- and the Houston plan, that part of it was one of them -- where the president can decide that it's in the best interest of the nation or something and do something illegal.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.

D. FROST: If one had completely failed to get anything out of Nixon or any admissions out of Nixon and so on, it would have3 been pretty disastrous.

W. FROST: Far from being a disaster, the Frost-Nixon interview became a sensation and was later made into a Hollywood movie.

FRANK LANGELLA AS RICHARD NIXON, "FROST/NIXON": Maybe you should have been a politician and I the rigorous interviewer.

MICHAEL SHEEN AS DAVID FROST, "FROST/NIXON": Maybe.

W. FROST: After the Nixon interview, the requests rolled in. Political leaders, royals, and celebrities from around the world, most ended up face-to-face with my father. Now, on the eve of my father's memorial, I've decided to turn the tables and see if I can find out something I didn't already know from someone who knew him both on and off screen.

John Major was not only a British prime minister, but also a good friend of my father's. I sat down with him and began by asking him to recall the first time they met.

MAJOR: I think in the late 1970s. Very different David from the international stellar star he subsequently became, but he was pretty famous then.

W. FROST: Both you and Dad shared the fact that you came from relatively basic upbringings and went on to be hugely successful. Do you think that had an aspect of why you -- an impact on why you got on so well?

MAJOR: Yes, I think it did. From the moment I met David, it was an easy relationship. Sometimes you meet someone and a relationship is forced, it's difficult, it's uneasy. On other occasions, it's just easy.

David was fascinated with "what if" questions. Suppose this happened. What would that mean? And so was I. And of course, in terms of sport, we were both fanatically keen on it and spent hours talking about that as well.

W. FROST: Similar tastes in cricket, of course, but vastly different in the world of football. But --

MAJOR: Well, no man is without a blemish, and your father wasn't, insofar as football is concerned.

(LAUGHTER)

W. FROST: Is it strange that you built such a good friendship? Essentially, on screen you were adversaries. And yet, from that stemmed a great friendship.

MAJOR: I don't think it was at all difficult to form a friendship with David if you had common interests. He asked serious questions on serious issues, and if he received serious answers, he would pursue them. So, there was a good deal of respect for David as an interview apart from friendship.

W. FROST: And did that aspect mean --

(AUDIO GAP)

W. FROST: -- leader has to be interviewed by David Frost in order to get the sort of seal of approval, as it were?

MAJOR: Well, there's no reason not to. There are some people that political leaders did not wish to be interviewed by because they're egoists and the interview was about them or because they asked foolish questions or because they keep interrupting and they don't let any case be put.

And then there are others, like David, who will ask the questions that need to be asked, will listen to the answer, and will then follow up the answer not with a pre-prepared question, but with something that arises out of the answer.

W. FROST: And do you think when we talk about his abilities, his skills, do you think his early foray into comedy and satire, did that influence his skill as an interviewer?

MAJOR: Well, I think it did, both on screen and off. David had a light touch and he had a delicious sense of humor. And it was wry, and it was often self-deprecating. And that's very charming. And it builds a bond.

W. FROST: Absolutely.

MAJOR: And I know no one -- I think absolutely no one -- who had such a wide range of people who would call themselves friends of David.

W. FROST: Not just the wide range of friends, but from interviewing politicians --

MAJOR: A diversity of them as well.

W. FROST: And on screen as well. Not many people do presidents and prime ministers one week, and the Spice Girls or Yuri Girl (ph) the next week.

(LAUGHTER)

MAJOR: I wonder which got the bigger audience.

W. FROST: Well, Sir John, it's been an absolute privilege. Thank you very much.

MAJOR: Thank you. It's been a joy, Wilfred, an absolute joy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: David Frost's son, there, and his memorial earlier today.

I'm Becky Anderson, and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching.

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