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Report Does Not Confirm Trump Spy Claim; Trump-Merkel Meeting Has Awkward Moments; U.S. Seeks Support Reining In North Korea; Russia's Annexation of Crimea Three Years Old; U.S. Denies Airstrike Hit Syrian Mosque; U.S. Top Diplomat and Chinese Foreign Minister Meet; Dozens Killed in Peruvian Flooding. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 18, 2017 - 04:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): If it was a joke, the German chancellor certainly didn't laugh when the U.S. president suggested they had both been under surveillance by the Obama administration.

And on that claim, still no evidence, no evidence to support the president's claim that he was wiretapped at all. A classified report from the Department of Justice does not confirm his allegations.

Plus the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson in Beijing this hour. He says it's time to get tough with North Korea. And he is looking for China's cooperation.

From CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell, CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: It is 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. The U.S. president wrapping up a busy day. His unsubstantiated claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor took center stage.

First, the U.S. Justice Department delivered a classified report to Congress on the issue Friday. However, two government officials familiar with that report say that it does not back up the president's claim and still the president refused to drop the issue, even standing next to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in a news conference, talking about it. CNN's Jeff Zeleny explains it to us.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump did not back down today from his explosive and unproven claim that President Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as wiretapping, I guess, you know, this past administration -- at least we have something in common, perhaps. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY (voice-over): Meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, the president referenced past reports that Merkel's phone had once been tapped by the NSA. The president also did not apologize to the British government for suggesting that British spies were behind the wiretapping.


TRUMP: And just to finish your question, we said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind, who was the one responsible for saying that on television.


ZELENY (voice-over): Asked by a German reporter whether it was a mistake to blame the British spy agency, the president passed the buck to FOX News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano, who first raised the possibility.


TRUMP: I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on FOX. And so you shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to FOX, OK?


ZELENY (voice-over): An hour later, FOX News responded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FOX News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary. FOX News knows no evidence of any kind that the now President of the United States was surveiled at any time in any way, full stop.

ZELENY (voice-over): The wiretapping claim escalated into an international incident after White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the president Thursday. From the White House podium, Spicer repeated Napolitano's suggestion that a British intelligence agency helped Obama spy on Trump.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Andrew Napolitano made the following statement, quote, "Three intelligence sources have informed FOX News that President Obama went outside the chain of command.

"He didn't use the NSA. He didn't use the CIA. He didn't use the FBI and he didn't use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ."


ZELENY (voice-over): That comment infuriated Great Britain, one of the most important U.S. allies.

A spokesman for British prime minister Theresa May said, "we've made clear to the U.S. administration that these claims are ridiculous and should be ignored."

A senior admin official said earlier today Spicer and national security adviser H.R. McMaster offered what amounted to an apology to the British government.

But Spicer later disputed that, saying the administration had no regrets.

All this made the first meeting between Trump and Merkel even more awkward. Two years ago the president suggested Merkel's immigration policy was ruling Germany.


TRUMP: And the German people are going to riot. The German people are going to end up overthrowing this woman, I don't know what the hell she is thinking.


ZELENY (voice-over): The German chancellor today gave only a passing nod to the tension, pointing out that she was beginning to forge a few relationship with her third American president.


ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): In the period leading up to this visit, I have always said, it's much, much better to talk to one another and not about one another.


ZELENY: Now as wiretapping hung over the first meeting with the German chancellor and the new American president, they did talk about other issues like trade, immigration and even climate change. They will meet again this summer at the G20.

But, again, these wiretapping claims have now eroded or are eroding the president's credibility -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN the White House.


HOWELL: Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much for the reporting.

Let's get some context now on the political lines that Jeff laid out for us. Joining us to talk about it, James Davis, the --


HOWELL: -- dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at the University of St. Galen in Switzerland.

A pleasure to have you with us this hour on CNN. Thank you, sir.

JAMES DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALEN: Good morning. HOWELL: Rather than starting with the unsubstantiated claims the

president keeps pushing, let's start with the substance of the meeting with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, these two leaders have different world views.

What were the wins and losses for these two leaders fighting some common ground in this meeting?

DAVIS: I think what was important about this meeting was that two leaders met and achieved something like a working relationship. It was important for them to find a level at which they can speak to one another.

And as the chancellor said, to speak to each other and not about each other and I think they've achieved that.

It was an awkward meeting. I think you can see that by the body language of both the president and the chancellor. But it seems that they did find some common ground, in particular on questions of vocational training, the need for the United States to do a better job at retraining its job -- its workforce and looking to Germany as a role model for that.

And I think that's one of these areas where we can clearly have some common ground and a common agenda.

HOWELL: Let's talk more on business there, the chancellor came with a high-powered entourage of German CEOs. These are companies that invest heavily in America.

Do you think that that will make a big difference for this president, who is focused on increasing American jobs, his America first plan?

DAVIS: I think what the chancellor was trying to do was to explain to the president that our economies are still intertwined today, that it doesn't make sense necessarily to talk about German or American companies but rather we need to talk about how we can grow the economy together.

She brought, for example, the chairman of BMW. BMW has one of its largest plants worldwide located in the United States. And so to talk about German cars without understanding that German cars bring American jobs is the wrong way to do this.

So I think what she is trying to do is point out to the president that we can grow our economies together and, by doing that, try to push back on what seems to be a protectionist/nationalist economic agenda of this administration.

HOWELL: Chancellor Merkel did bring up the topic of immigration when she was standing next to the U.S. president, Donald Trump. Also, they talked about NATO. And I'd like to listen to that exchange; we can talk about it on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense. Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years. And it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe.

MERKEL (through translator): I was gratified to know the president outlined how important he thinks NATO is. NATO is of prime importance for us. And it was not without very good reason that we said during our summit meeting in Wales that also Germany needs to increase its expenditure.

We committed to this 2 percent goal until 2024. Last year, we increased our defense spending by 8 percent and we are going to work again and again on this.


HOWELL: So with nations like Russia looking on, what's the plus/minus from these two leaders, standing together talking about NATO?

DAVIS: Well, again, I think they need find a common line or a common sheet of music here. And the president is absolutely right when he says that NATO cannot be more important to the Americans than it is to the Europeans and the Europeans need to meet their spending goals. That's been the position of American administrations going back many years.

But the president is wrong when he suggests that this is some kind of a gift to the Europeans when the Americans commit to NATO. NATO is central to the United States' security. This is not some kind of altruistic gift to the Europeans but rather it's a central component of our own security policy.

And so NATO is important to us, it's important to the Europeans and I think it was very good news that both the chancellor and the president recommitted themselves to this NATO, which is central.

And as you suggested with threats coming from Moscow and other areas of the world, we don't have the luxury of quarreling amongst ourselves about the importance of this alliance.

HOWELL: James, we didn't really have time to get into the unsubstantiated claims about wiretapping, running out of time here, but, quite frankly, there is not much to talk about. There is no evidence. James Davis, thank you so much for being with us this hour.

The U.S. secretary of state is in Beijing for meetings with China's leaders, the prime focus, North Korea. Rex Tillerson is seeking Chinese support to rein in North Korea's weapons program.


HOWELL: The visit follows a stop in South Korea, where he said that he would -- the U.S. would consider military action against North Korea if it was provoked. Let's get the view from China. CNN's Will Ripley is live in Beijing this hour.

Will, a pleasure to have with you us. Let's talk about the secretary of state on the ground in China at the same time the president on Twitter, putting out this tweet here within the last 24 hours, I believe just 19 hours ago.

The tweet reads as follows, "North Korea is behaving very badly, they have been playing the United States for years. China has done little to help."

Will the question to you, this pressure that the U.S. is putting on China to do more, will it work?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the big question and we know that as we speak, Secretary Tillerson is having a conversation with one of China's two top diplomats, that would be Foreign Minister Wong (ph), who we just received some new video of them, a very cordial greeting, a very friendly greeting, talking about mutual cooperation, the fact that China and the U.S. have coexisted peacefully for many decades. And they intend to continue to do that moving forward. So very polite discussions publicly. But we know behind closed doors, there will be some more difficult conversations, both with Foreign Minister Wong, and also state counselor Yong (ph), the second high- level diplomat ahead of the meeting tomorrow between Secretary Tillerson and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

What the U.S. wants and what the Trump administration has made clear in that tweet from President Trump and long before, is that they think that China can do more when it comes to North Korea. They believe that China has the most leverage of any country in the world because it's North Korea's only -- essentially only meaningful trading partner.

Their trade relationship with China accounts for 70 percent to 90 percent of North Korean trade. So what Tillerson is going to ask the Japanese is what they are willing to do, how far they are willing to go because, clearly, the Trump administration feels they need to go farther to rein in North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un.

Now what the Chinese are expected to tell Secretary Tillerson is they think it's on -- the onus is on the United States to stop provocative acts, in their words, such as the joint military exercises that are happening right now between the United States and South Korea.

It always infuriates Pyongyang and frankly it makes Beijing nervous when those military exercises happen. But the U.S. is not going to be willing to do that. They think the exercises are important, are vital to keeping cooperation between those two key allies.

And they think that they're transparent about it, unlike the North Korean regime, which continues to secretly launch missiles and conduct nuclear tests without giving any warning.

HOWELL: And Will, just to give our viewers here in the United States and around the world a little background on your and your reporting if they don't already know, you have traveled to North Korea, you have covered that nation extensively many times.

So I pose this question to you, how is all of this being perceived in North Korea?

We are hearing Rex Tillerson say that the patience for North Korea has ended, that all options are on the table.

Will that make a difference in how North Korea continues to react and respond?

RIPLEY: We know that the North Koreans are monitoring the activity of the new administration very carefully. They have now launched five ballistic missiles; four of them simultaneously and then one a few weeks earlier. So five ballistic missiles during the Trump administration.

So clearly the provocative action continues; there is satellite activity that shows potential signs of an imminent nuclear test ,perhaps an ICBM launch, which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said is coming.

But what the North Koreans knew was that during the Obama years, during this strategy of strategic patience, there was not going to be the possibility of military engagement.

So by Secretary Tillerson saying that now strategic patience is over, military engagement is on the table if North Korea takes provocative action. That could make Pyongyang and Beijing, by the way, much more nervous, because nobody really knows for sure how far the Trump administration is willing to go. That's what these conversations are about.

And we know that there will be a meeting or there is expected to be a meeting early next month between President Trump and the Chinese President Xi Jinping, where they will talk about these issues.

But from the North Korean perspective, they have to be a bit more nervous right now, thinking about the potential of U.S. military action, even though their propaganda says they are always prepared for the threat of imminent invasion by the United States -- George.

HOWELL: CNN international correspondent Will Ripley, live for us in the Chinese capital, Will, thank you for the reporting. We will stay in touch with you.

This is CNN NEWSROOM. And still ahead this hour, a look inside Crimea, three years after its annexation by Russia. What residents there say what life is like under Russian rule. That's NEWSROOM. Stay with us.






HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

In Ukraine, a key anniversary has been reached in that country's conflict with pro-Russian separatists. It was three years ago that Russia announced its annexation of Crimea. CNN's Fred Pleitgen traveled to Crimea and has this look at the annexation and its impact on the people there.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It was the final pen stroke at the end a brazen land grab, Russian president Vladimir Putin signing the order to annex Crimea three years ago.

"Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia," he said.

"This conviction on truth and fairness has always been resolute and was passed from generation to generation. Both time and circumstances could not erase it."

It's important to remember that Crimea has been home to Russia's Black Sea naval fleet for over 200 years, not something easy for Russia to give up.

Three years after the annexation, Russia says Crimea has been fully integrated into Russia while many Crimeans says there still is much work to be done. Moscow points to the positive, like the luxury hotel Alainah (ph), where Chef Bogdan Perina (ph) prepares Crimean oysters that he is experimenting with local ingredients instead of luxury products from abroad.

"I only serve local food made from local ingredients," he says.

"It's not hard to keep the quality high if we just drive around here and pick the suppliers.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): "We do it to oyster farms and trout farms."

Of course, many things are harder to come by because of international sanctions slapped on Russia for the annexation of Crimea. But general manager Kyra Zakharova (ph) tells me, business is still going well.

"There is a tendency for guests to stay longer than they used to," she says. "The people used to spend a weekend or just a few days; now the average stay is around seven days."

Russia shocked the world when mass forces appeared in Crimea in the midst of the upheaval in Ukraine. Moscow originally claimed the troops weren't theirs before Vladimir Putin finally admitted he had sent them.

Only weeks after the conflict began, Crimeans allegedly voted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum that was heavily criticized by the U.N., the U.S. and the E.U.

The United Nations still recognizes Crimea as part of Ukraine. And the U.S. says sanctions will remain until the territory is returned to Ukraine.

And despite the positive development, much of Crimea remains like this, poor with little economic development, much of the holdup coming down to logistics. There is no direct land route from Russia to Crimea; planes and these ferries, the only way for Russians to get there.

"Cars are often stuck in traffic for days," this woman says, "and sometimes the connection is disrupted because of sea storms. Of course, if we had a bridge, we would have more people here, too."

The Russians are building a bridge for faster access in the future.

PLEITGEN: Russia hopes to complete the bridge by 2018. It's supposed to include a rail link as well as a motorway. And many people here in Crimea hope that the bridge will help alleviate a lot of the problems bringing both people and goods on and off the peninsula.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): For now, however, the bridge to Kerch (ph), like much of the integration of Crimea into Russia, remains a work in progress -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kerch, on the Crimean Peninsula.


HOWELL: Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much for the reporting. Now CNN's Clare Sebastian is live with the view from Moscow.

Clare, great to have you with us, 11:22 am in the morning there with you.

So we just we heard about the situation in Ukraine. Let's talk about the situation in Eastern Ukraine, very unstable at this point. The German chancellor Angela Merkel, while in the United States, alongside with the U.S. president, Donald Trump expressed her hopes that things might improve. Let's listen.


MERKEL (through translator): I am very gratified to know that the American administration and also the president personally commit themselves to the Minsk process. We need to come to a solution of this, a problem, there has to be a safe and secure solution for a Ukraine and the relationship with Russia has to be improved as well once the situation on the ground there is clarified.


HOWELL: Clare, so despite what we saw, these two leaders standing together, Germany and the United States, does that type of pressure make a difference when it comes to Ukraine?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, George, Russia's position on Eastern Ukraine is very clear. They maintain they're not officially party to their conflict and they are not responsible, they say, for the fact that the Minsk agreement has yet to be implemented.

They blame Ukraine for that. But of course the optics of President Trump standing right there with Angela Merkel, whose position on Ukraine has been very steadfast; she is in favor of sanctions remaining in place on Russia -- is something that will not be celebrated here in Moscow.

There certainly was some hope the Trump administration would soften its stance on Ukraine. That appears not to be the case. And of course, as you know, Russia's position on Crimea also remains immovable, today on the third anniversary, despite the fact that the international community continues, most of it, not to recognize Crimea as part of Russia and to condemn to what they call the illegal occupation of Crimea by Russian troops, the illegal annexation.

Just today in fact we had from the E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini who said the European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures, of course referring there to sanctions.

But for Russia, this is not only a closed issue, not only is it not up for discussion, but it's a source of national pride. We will see celebrations across the country today, commemorating that anniversary. And this is definitely seen as a source of national pride here -- George.

HOWELL: Clare Sebastian, live for us in Moscow, with the reporting, Clare, thank you.

Now on to Syria. The Pentagon is denying that a U.S. airstrike hit a mosque in the northern part of that country, a strike that killed dozens of civilians there. Officials say that Al Qaeda fighters in a nearby building were targeted instead.

But this was a part of a larger offensive. U.S. and coalition forces launched 19 new airstrikes against ISIS on Thursday. Warplanes attacked three cities in Syria, including eight strikes on the self- proclaimed capital of ISIS, Raqqah.


HOWELL: Three additional cities were hit in Iraq, including four strikes in Mosul. Our Jomana Karadsheh shows us the scene in Northern Syria after one of those strikes.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Syrians are describing it as a massacre, according to a Syrian monitoring group, activists and rescue workers. Scores were killed and wounded after airstrikes destroyed a mosque

full of worshippers on Thursday evening in the town of al-Gina (ph) in Northern Syria. U.S. military officials have confirmed carrying out an airstrike in the area, killing several terrorists but did not bomb a mosque.

The target, they say, was a building where an Al Qaeda meeting was taking place but acknowledged the building was only 40 to 50 feet away from the mosque. A U.S. military official says, according to satellite imagery, the mosque was still standing after the strikes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Warplanes have violated the sanctity of God by striking one of the houses of God, destroying it over the heads of worshippers, which led to one of the most heinous massacres.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): The U.S. military's Central Command said they are looking into allegations of civilian casualties.

In recent weeks, the U.S. military has ramped up its airstrikes targeting Al Qaeda in the Northern Idlib province. But activists say the majority of those killed Thursday were civilian worshippers.

Syria experts warn Al Qaeda may use more incidents to gain more support in a part of the country where they are already growing stronger. One of the Syrian rebel groups called it a war crime and a, quote, "shameful scene" by an international community that has gone from silent to becoming a partner in the killing of the Syrian people -- Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


HOWELL: Jomana, thank you so much for your reporting today.

Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, President Trump showed that he and Angela Merkel were both victims of spying by the Obama administration but the German chancellor was not laughing. There is no evidence to back the president's claim. We'll have that story ahead.

CNN is live this hour from Atlanta, Georgia, on our networks both in the United States and around the world this hour. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.



HOWELL (voice-over): Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following for you this hour.


HOWELL: the U.S. Justice Department delivered a classified report to Congress on Friday on President Donald Trump's claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor, Barack Obama. Two government officials familiar with that report say that it does not back up the president's claim.

Still, Mr. Trump refused to back down. He even repeated it during a White House news conference with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, next to him. At one point, he joked that both he and Merkel had been bugged by the Obama administration. Let's take a look at this exchange.


QUESTION: Are there, from time to time, tweets that you regret?


QUESTION: Very seldom. So you would never wish...

TRUMP: Probably wouldn't be here right now but very seldom. We have a tremendous group of people that listen and I can get around the media when the media doesn't tell the truth. So I like that.

As far as wiretapping, I guess, this past administration -- at least we have something in common, perhaps.


HOWELL: No laugh there, though, by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

There was no mistake about it. The first face-to-face meeting, these talks between Mr. Trump and Ms. Merkel, well, they looked a bit awkward. They didn't even shake hands. Not much of a surprise, though, given how Mr. Trump criticized the German leader not long ago, as our Tom Foreman explains.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as the immigrant crisis was surging in Europe, he said she was "fantastic" and "probably the greatest leader in the world today."

But as Germany's Angela Merkel let more and more migrants into her country and time made her person of the year, Donald trump tweeted, "They picked the person who is ruining Germany."

TRUMP: I was still at Merkel was like this great leader. What she's done in Germany is insane. It's insane.

Merkel did a horrible job when she accepted so many. I think in Germany they don't have problems like you've never seen. They already have. They're having huge problems.

FOREMAN (voice-over): During the campaign, Merkel largely kept her thoughts about Trump private.

MERKEL (through translator): I will not intervene at all during the U.S./American campaign, so we will have to wait.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And when he won, she was magnanimous.

MERKEL (through translator): I offer close cooperation to the future President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But the two now have many sharp differences.

TRUMP: We're talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people.

FOREMAN (voice-over): As he has tried to slap a travel ban on several Muslim majority nations, she has argued the fight against terrorism --

MERKEL (through translator): Does in no way justify a general suspicion against people of certain beliefs.

FOREMAN (voice-over): As he has applauded Great Britain's vote --


FOREMAN (voice-over): -- to leave the European Union.

TRUMP: I think Brexit is going to be a wonderful thing for your country.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Merkel has promised Germany will stand firmly with Europe and won't be pushed around in any trade deals. They've disagreed on Syria, on NATO, on Russia and Trump appears in no way eager to give the chancellor a pass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you trust more if you talk to them, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP: Well, I start off trusting both, but let's see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But Merkel seems ready to at least give the new president sometime.

MERKEL (through translator): Even there are differing opinions, compromises and possibilities are always best to be made when there is a respectable exchange.

FOREMAN: Some close to Merkel say she prepared extensively for this first meeting with Trump, going over his speeches, reviewing his encounters with other world leaders, even looking at an old interview in "Playboy," all to make sure that she would understand his position and that he would understand hers.


HOWELL: Tom Foreman, thank you.

The U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson is meeting with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi right now in Beijing, a live look here, let's listen in.

WANG YI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): And the two sides have had in-depth discussions on and started relevant preparations for the arrangement of a meeting between the two presidents in the coming future and we have arrived at a lot of agreements in this respect.

We have agreed to maintain close communication on this to ensure that the exchanges between our two countries at the top and all the other levels are smooth, successful and productive.

We will step up our high-level dialogue and practical cooperation in such fields as diplomacy, security, economy and trade, law enforcement, cyber and people-to-people exchanges.

China-U.S. economics cooperation is weanling (ph) in nature. We have to work to expand investment cooperation, properly address our trade afflictions (ph) to achieve a win-win outcome.

And, at the same time, we will step up our communication and cooperation on and about the settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Afghanistan, Syria and other regional hot spot issues and, at the same time, we will maintain close communication and coordination as the United Nations, the G20, the APEC and other multi- lateral institutions.

It is natural that China and the United States may have some differences and difference of opinion. During our discussion just now, I made clear China's tuneful (ph) positions on Taiwan, the Diaoyu Island, THAAD and other issues. And I believe --


WANG (through translator): -- both sides should use constructive means to handle and manage the sensitive issues.

China and the United States, as two major countries with global implications, I believe the importance of our relationship cannot be overstated. Both sides are of the view that to maintain a steadily growing and sound China-U.S. relationship not only serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples but also conforms to the wide expectation of the international community.

We are ready to work with the U.S. side in a spirit of no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation to step up our communication, enhance our mutual trust, expand our cooperation and address the differences we have appropriately.

In this way, we will secure greater progress in China-U.S. relationship for the greater benefit of the people and not only China and the United States but also in the whole world. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Thank you, Minister Wang.

Now the floor is your, (INAUDIBLE). REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes. Good afternoon. I'm pleased to be here this afternoon in Beijing to discuss the way forward in forging a constructive and results-oriented relationship between the United States and China.

This is an important opportunity to follow up on the telephone conversation between President Trump and President Xi and to pave the way for continued, productive, high-level engagement.

Since the historic opening of relations between our two countries, more than 40 years ago, the U.S.-China relationship has been guided by an understanding of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

It is important that the leaders of our two countries engage in further dialogue to develop a common understanding that will guide our relationship for the next half-century.

The United States and China are the world's two largest commission and we must both promote stability and growth. Our two countries should have a positive trading relationship that is fair and pays dividends both ways. And we will be working on that going forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

TILLERSON: Foreign Minister Wang and I spoke about the importance of safe guarding stability and security in Northeast Asia and the Asia Pacific region. We noted that efforts made over the last 20 years have so far not succeeded in curbing the threat posed by North Korea's illegal weapons programs.

Because China's stated policy is denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, we renewed our determination to work together to convince the North Korean government to choose a better path and a different future for its people.

I discussed the importance of upholding a rules-based order in dealing with maritime disputes and freedom of navigation and overflight and I made clear that the United States will continue to advocate for universal values, such as human rights and religious freedom.

I look forward on this visit to additional meetings today with state counselor Yang and tomorrow with President Xi and to continuing to work together with my Chinese host to address shared challenges and opportunities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).


WANG (through translator): Now we have the Q&A session; because of the shortage of time, just one question for each journalist. First, one question from American journalist to Secretary Tillerson.

HOWELL: You are looking at a live image here in Beijing. It is the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, meeting with his Chinese counterpart, the Chinese minister of foreign affairs, Wang Yi, the U.S. secretary of state talking about North Korea, the U.S. putting new pressure on China to do more about North Korea and its nuclear ambitions.

Also the Chinese minister of foreign affairs talking about trade, the efforts to expand trade relationships and address frictions for a win- win outcome.

This is CNN NEWSROOM. We'll have more news right after the break.





HOWELL: A story we are following in France: the interior ministry says that a man at Orly Airport in Paris was killed a short time ago when he tried to grab a soldier's gun. The airport's south terminal was evacuated during the police operation that then followed.

The man's identity or possible motive, that has not yet been made public. No explosives were found.

We continue to follow this story here on CNN. This is CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back after the break.





HOWELL: We want to show you the situation in Peru, where torrential rains and flash floods are wreaking havoc in many parts of that nation. At least 62 people there were killed, more than 100 others injured after weeks of heavy downpour.

Peru's government says more than 60,000 people have been displaced. Some remarkable footage has also come to light from this flooding in Peru. Our meteorologist Derek Van Dam is here to tell us more about that -- Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The Peruvian president declaring a state of emergency, take a look at some of this dramatic visual evidence of --


VAN DAM: -- why he had to do that. This is a mudslide and right in the middle of this debris field, as we zoom in with the camera, look at this woman emerging, crawling, stumbling over debris that was dragged along this raging torrent.

She survived, George, get this, by grabbing on to pieces of wood, tree, whatever she could get her hands on, trying to build a makeshift bridge to pull herself out of muck.

HOWELL: That is amazing.

VAN DAM: That is incredible. She is safe; she is recovering in the hospital as we speak. The onlookers there brought her assistance as soon as they possibly could.

You can see the some of the infrastructure that has been damaged, over 100,000 homes, also 100 bridges collapsed because of the incessant flooding and rainfall.


HOWELL: Wow. Eric Van Dam, thank you very much.

Thanks for being with us for this hour. Another hour of CNN NEWSROOM straight ahead for you.