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Simultaneously Terror Attacks; North Korea's Provoking Actions; Fighting for Life; Debates for Position Aimed. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired April 5, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Dozens of people are dead and a possible Sarin gas attack in Syria. Now Syria, Russia and the U.S. are pointing fingers in different directions.
Plus, for the fourth time this year, North Korea is suspected of firing a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
And later, France's presidential candidates fight it out in a marathon debate. We will hear who impressed the voters.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.
And we will get to those stories in just a moment. But first we have this report just in from Iraq. Reuters cites security sources and medics who say ISIS militants have killed 26 people in the City of Tikrit. Fourteen police officers are among the dead. More than 40 people have been wounded. Tikrit is well known as the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. He was captured by U.S. forces just outside the city back in 2003.
Well, Russia is defending its allies in Syria after an apparent gas attack killed dozens of civilians. The Russian defense ministry says terrorists were already holding chemical weapons at a depot there and a Syrian air strike on the area simply released the chemicals.
We should warn our viewers the images you are about to see are very disturbing. But we believe it's important to show the devastating effects of this attack on civilians, including children.
Jomana Karadsheh has this report.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dazed, confused, fighting for their next breath, some too young to even understand. Syrian activists say these images show the aftermath of a chemical attack in the rebel held town of Khan Sheikhoun in northwestern Syria. The unknown chemical agent, activist say, came from an air strike at 6.30 a.m. local time just as people were waking up beginning their day. Dozens are reported dead including children, hundreds wounded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FERAS AL-JUNDI, DOCTOR (through translator): When I entered the hospital there were many, many atrocious things to see. Bodies were all over the place in the hospital and injured people as well. And the staff in northern part of Idlib were not able to handle all these injuries on their own. There were cases of suffocation and cases of burning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARADSHEH: Across the border in Turkey, an emergency center was set up to help treat the victims. Russia denied any involvement in the strikes. The Syrian opposition and several countries blaming the attack on the Syrian regime, but the Syrian military says it did not carry out a chemical attack, putting the blame on rebel groups.
The images surfacing from Tuesday's attack were reminiscent of the 2013 chemical attacks in Al-Ghouta in Damascus in which hundreds were killed. The Syrian regime breached an agreement with the international community and said its declared chemical stockpiles were destroyed.
But since then, there have been countless allegations of the use of chemicals like chlorine gas in populated areas.
Many Syrians fear the regime and its allies with be emboldened by the new U.S. administration which has signaled an openness to Bashar al- Assad staying in power. A potential policy shift that drew strong reaction from a member of President Trump's own party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MCCAIN, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I'm sure they're encouraged to know that the United States are withdrawing and seeking some kind of new arrangement with the Russians and it is another disgraceful chapter in American history and it was predictable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARADSHEH: For its part the Trump administration called the attack reprehensible, but for those on the ground, strong words are not enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL-JUNDI (through translator): The international community has been watching and doing nothing. Clash the bombs, scud missiles and now gas. And it's strange no one is being prosecuted by the ICC. I also wish that you convey my message to as large a number of viewers as possible. That you can put some pressure on the U.S. and western governments to do something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARADSHEH: More desperate pleas from a conflict where so-called red lines have been crossed time and time again.
Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Amman.
[03:00:00] (TECHNICAL PROBLEM) MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, those are very good questions and you have to remember that all of the information right now that's coming out of the ground is coming from opposition activists. So, of course, when Syria comes out and says that, you know, they did not drop a chemical munitions, but rather that they hit a target and that target had chemical munitions there, it speaks to the reality and the reality is simple.
There are no independent international monitoring groups on the ground right now that can verify either version of this story.
If you remember in 2013, there was a similar accusation that was made against the Syrian government that they used chemical weapons. There were more than a thousand people killed in that case. In a place called Ghouta which is just outside of Damascus. Immediately afterwards the Syrian government opened up that area to investigators and the U.N. was able to get teams on the ground to try to verify what, in fact, actually happened.
We have no indication right now, at least so far in the 24 hours since this happened, that the Syrian government is willing to allow international investigators in Khan, into this place in Khan Sheikhoun where these air strikes took place. And until and unless that happens, it's going to be almost impossible to verify which version of events is true.
CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And Matthew, just back to you, despite Russia's explanation, the international community is blaming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. So, how will Moscow likely respond at the U.N. Security Council's emergency meeting later today on this crisis? And what will be its likely next move?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly Russia will be at that Security Council meeting. It's one of the five permanent members of the council and as such hasn't veto. It's used that veto on at least seven on occasions in the past to protect its Syrian ally from United Nations sanctions.
Most recently, a month ago, approximately when the issue work of the Syrian government use of chemical weapons was put before the council in a resolution, an attempt was made to sanction the Syrian government for its past use of chemical weapons against rebels in the country.
And that resolution was vetoed by Russia along with China that often follows Russia's lead on this issue. And so, look, there is going to be I expect a heated debate in the U.N. Security Council later on today. If there is a resolution tabled, I expect that the Russians and probably the Chinese will move to veto it.
[03:10:03] CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to Matthew Chance there in Moscow, Muhammad Lila in Istanbul, I appreciate that.
Well, North Korea is putting even more pressure on the U.S. and China. Pyongyang fired a medium range ballistic missile which landed in the sea of Japan also known as the East Sea. The test comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is preparing to meet China's President Xi Jinping on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a senior White House official says, quote, "the clock has now run out on North Korea."
Melissa Hanham is a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for nonproliferation studies and she joins us now from Monterey in California via Skype. Thank you so much for being with us.
So, North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch comes as we mentioned just days before President Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping in Florida. The timing critical clearly. What message is Kim Jong-un sending and how might this launch play into that two-day summit?
MELISSA HANHAM, SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, EAST ASIA NONPROLIFERATION PROGRAM: Well, Xi Jinping and Trump have a lot to talk about. And unfortunately, there isn't a lot of wiggle room between the two. China has repeatedly told the U.S. that it has very little leverage over North Korea at this point.
This latest missile test is very worrisome, not only because it's a solid fuel missile which means it's easier for these missiles to hide and they are quicker to launch. But North Korea has also started using a truck bed that is very different from what's used in the past.
And, so, in some ways these trucks are a way of telling China, we don't need you anymore. Previously they had gotten these trucks from China, and now they are producing in their own trucks indigenously that have caterpillar treads on them.
CHURCH: And interestingly, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responded to the latest launch with just 23 words saying this. "North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment."
Now, many are calling this response confusing, even odd. What do you make of it and the statement from the senior White House official that the clock has run out on North Korea?
HANHAM: Yes, they're very cryptic messages. I counted, it's only 13 more characters than a tweet from Trump, for example. It's really hard to tell what the messaging is on this. It could be, you know, we're done talking, it's time to fight. It could also be, we're done talking, we have no idea what we're doing.
The gap in between those two things means that allies are worried, North Korea is probably confused. China is probably confused. And the American people may be starting to ask what the point of all this is as well.
This is not generally how the U.S. conducts foreign policy. Typically you would give a statement of support to your allies in the region committing yourself. And additionally, you would give more guidance on what's to come. This confusing messaging can be very dangerous if the parties do not understand the underlying statement that you're trying to give.
CHURCH: And just very quickly, then, how is North Korea likely to react to this rather dismissive response? And as you say, it is a break from what it's used to hearing from the United States.
HANHAM: Well, it's possible that we will have more missile or even nuclear tests ahead of us. There's been satellite imagery showing activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. You know, when Trump met with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, North Korea launched a missile during that summit at Mar-a-Lago as well. There could be a repeat. North Korea is notoriously difficult to predict.
CHURCH: Melissa Hanham, thank you so much for joining us from Monterey there in California. I appreciate it.
HANHAM: Thank you for having me.
CHURCH: Well, Russia is observing three days of mourning after Monday's deadly suicide blast on the St. Petersburg metro. Authorities say the attacker was 22-year-old, Akbarzhon Jalilov, a Russian national born in Kyrgyzstan. The explosion killed 14 people and wounded dozens more. It's unclear if the bomber is included in the tally.
Well, more than a dozen bloodied and bandage at the metro bombing are still hospitalized but recovering. A warning this report contains video you may find disturbing.
Here's CNN's Paula Newton.
[03:14:55] PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In every sense, the survivors here are utterly shattered. Wounds cover their bodies, the horror still on their minds. This young woman was pierced with flying metal and glass shredding her flesh. The cruelest cuts slashing her face.
Is she going to be OK?
VYACHESLAV AFONCHIKOV, DEPUTY CHIEF PHYSICIAN, SAINT PETERSBURG RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF EMERGENCY: I think that very good prognosis.
NEWTON: Really, she's a young woman.
NEWTON: So, this is the second operating room.
NEWTON: Dr. Vyacheslav Afonchikov walks us through intensive care. Eighteen victims came to this hospital. He tells me so far they haven't lost any. The two patients are still quite critical. They have serious injuries?
AFONCHIKOV: Prognosis he's not finished now. It is, how do you say, 50/50. NEWTON: It's delicate.
NEWTON: The fact is teams here have been preparing for this kind of a terrorist incident for years now. And when the victims arrived here, many of them had dozens of wounds, very serious wounds all over their bodies.
AFONCHIKOV: We see them. When we look on x-rays closer.
NEWTON: So you were removing -- you were removing tiny metal pellets from patient's bodies.
NEWTON: And you could see them. That must have been loaded in the explosive, it must have been in the bomb?
AFONCHIKOV: Yes, of course.
NEWTON: Alexey Chirochkin (Ph) saw victims pouring out of the train onto the platform and snapped this photo. Then he realized what was happening. He says he'll never forget the look on survivors' faces as everyone pulled together to help victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's possible that the person I dragged out was dead. He had lots of blood on his jacket. He was soaked in it. I don't know if he's alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Just a day later, the same platform was already a shrine to the victims, but also a potent sign of strength. People here in St. Petersburg boarded the same subway line in defiance and got on with their day.
Vigilance was high, security tight, and yet all around there were touching scenes of grief. Resilience in this city is rooted in its epic history. It can never be conveyed in a single gesture, let alone a hash tag. But instead you feel it. Solemn prayers, bitter tears and profound disbelief.
Paula Newton, CNN, St. Petersburg.
CHURCH: And CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now from St. Petersburg. Oren, the suicide bomber has been identified, but are Russian authorities any closer to understanding the motive behind this deadly attack and do they still believe this was perpetrated by a lone wolf?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There has yet to be an indication of what Russian investigators believe the motive is behind this attack. There has been some speculation it could be radicalization, but nothing definitely there yet. And nothing officials will have to see where the investigation moves at this point.
They did give some insight as to how they pin pointed 22-year-old Akbarzhon Jalilov. They said they found his DNA on the unexploded device. Remember there was an explosive about a kilogram of TNT hidden within a fire extinguisher that didn't go off. That was diffused and disarmed by authorities.
So investigators say they found his DNA there and combined with closed circuit television were able to come to the conclusion that it was one person who planted the bomb in one place and then detonated himself and the bomb on the tracks not far from where we're standing here. But they haven't ruled out other people involved in either making the bombs or preparing the attack, but there has been no indication yet.
That being said, we're still early on in the investigation. Rosemary, I'll draw your attention to the memorial that growing here. This is at the technological institute station. This is even bigger than the memorial at the Sennaya Square. This is where the victims were evacuated when the train pulled into the station moments after the attack and there are still people coming here, stopping here, many with tears in their eyes to lay flowers or to light candles as this is day two of three as Russia mourns for the 14 dead and dozens still wounded after this terrorist attack. Rosemary?
CHURCH: And Oren, yes, of course. There is the mourning and we see that. But these terror attacks of course are designed to strike fear at the heart of a society. This attack, though, doesn't appear to have achieved that. People obviously grieving, but still moving on and this sense of normalcy that is important to restore.
LIEBERMANN: It is and you see that here and you see it at the Sennaya Square where the station opened the morning after the attack. And there were -- there were a couple times where it was closed for security concerns. And yet, life moves on.
Many people stopped to mourn in their own way, but they went about their day. They continued to do whatever it is they had to do. And it is exactly that sense of moving on and trying not to let these attacks disrupt their daily lives while keeping in mind that open wound, the open scar of this terrorist attack that had been still so recently here as this country tries to move on and yet remember.
CHURCH: Oren Liebermann, thank you so much for that report live from St. Petersburg where it is 10.20 in the morning.
[03:20:00] We're going to take a very short break here. Still to come, though, on CNN Newsroom, we look into reports that a businessman supporting Donald Trump's election campaign had a secret meeting with an ally of Vladimir Putin.
We're back in a moment with that and more.
KATE RILEY, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN World Sport headlines.
Zlatan Ibarahimovic rescued a point from Manchester United and preserved a 20 match unbeaten league. Run for the Red Devils after one-all draw with Everton on Tuesday. Everton had struck first through Phil Jagielka.
But it wasn't until the 93rd minute when the Everton defender Ashley Williams tried to block a league effort and the ball hit his hand. He what sent off and upset Ibrahimovic to dispatch the penalty.
We are less than two days away from the start of the Master's. The year's first golfing major for the men. And what a difference a day makes after storms force a suspension of practice rounds on Monday. It was a beautiful day on Tuesday, but if you know anything about Georgia weather, this time of year it is not expected to last. More rain expected on Wednesday.
An uplifting note from former world number one, Jason Day, he broke the news in his Master's press conference that his mother had successful surgery for lung cancer and she won't need chemotherapy.
Day say it's the most comfortable he's felt on the course in a long time.
Finally, a legend of American football has decided to hang up his boots. Tony Romo who has been with the Dallas Cowboys his entire 14 year NFL career announced his retirement, but he'll stay in the game joining a commentary team in the broadcast booth.
And that's a look at your sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, U.S. President Trump is set to host a key Middle Eastern ally at the White House in the coming hours. Jordan's King Abdullah II and Mr. Trump are expected to discuss efforts how to defeat ISIS, how to end the conflict in Syria, and peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. They are also expected to discuss the deadly gas attack in Syria.
Well, meantime, the House intelligence committee has ramped up its investigation into Moscow's alleged meddling in the U.S. election and whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives.
Investigators have agreed on the list of witnesses and plan to start interviewing them in as soon as two weeks. The committee had canceled meetings last week despite efforts to restart the hearings. One top ranking democrat says the Trump team appears to be deflecting attention from the investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[03:25:02] ADAM SCHIFF, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: I think there are a few things going on. There is in the first instance a strong desire by the White House that we lose our focus that we not pursue the investigation of Russia particularly as it might impact the Trump campaign. I think that's priority number one for the president and the administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And the FBI is also reportedly looking into the activities of an influential Trump contributor. He built a controversial security company originally named Blackwater, now called Academy.
Our Jessica Schneider reports.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A diplomatic source tells CNN Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater met with a Russian businessman connected to President Vladimir Putin a little more than a week before the inauguration in the Seychelles Islands. Prince was not part of the transition team but donated $250,000 to the campaign and is the brother of education secretary Betsy DeVos.
The meeting was intended to set up a possible back channel communication to Russia for the incoming administration according to a source. The Washington Post reports the FBI is investigating that meeting.
Prince's spokesperson told the Post that the meeting had nothing to do with Trump and the White House today denied any knowledge of the meeting. Ambassador Nick Burns was a career foreign service officer for more than two decades and says back channel meetings like these aren't how transitions usually operate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNITED STATES UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: What normally happens is the president waits until January 20th and becomes president and exercises the full responsibility of office. But there was no reason to find some Russian business person or some contact with the Russian government when you could easily have asked the State Department or the Obama administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: Another development, former foreign policy advisor Carter Page now admits that in 2013 he met with Victor Podobnyy who turned out to be a Russian spy. Court documents show Podobnyy was recorded by the FBI referring to Carter Page, identified in these documents as male 1, and describing his efforts to recruit Page as an intelligence source.
"Male 1 wrote that he is sorry he went to Moscow and forgot to check his inbox. He flies to Moscow more often than I do." Page insists he believed he was working at Moscow's United Nations office in New York and stressed he only shared basic immaterial information and publicly available research documents on energy policy.
"In doing so, I provided him nothing more than a few samples from the far more detailed lectures I was preparing at the time."
The Trump team has tried to distance themselves from Carter Page even though then-candidate Trump talked about Page's contribution to the election effort in March 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might be announcing your foreign policy advisory team.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Carter Page, Ph.D.
SCHNEIDER: It turns out the Russian spy Carter Page communicated with was part of the same spy ring as another Russian employed by VEB bank. That's the state sponsored Russian bank whose chairman met with Jared Kushner in December at the height of the transition and at the request of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: We'll take a short break. But still to come, France goes to the polls in less than three weeks. And voters heard from all 11 presidential candidates in the latest debate. Some of the reactions. That's coming your way next.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: A warm welcome back. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour.
Russia's defense ministry says the apparent gas attack in northwestern Syria happened because a Syrian airstrike hit what they call a terrorist depot where chemical weapons were made. That explanation expands on the defense of the Syrian military which blamed rebels. That killing dozens of people in the attack.
Meanwhile, activists and much of the international community say the Syrian regime was responsible.
The Pakistani Taliban are claiming responsibility for a suicide blast that killed at least six people in Lahore, Pakistan just a short time ago. Four military personnel and two civilians are among the dead. Pakistan says its army was targeted in that attack.
North Korea has fired a medium range ballistic missile into the sea of Japan also known as the East Sea. The test comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is preparing to meet China's President Xi Jinping on Thursday. Mr. Trump recently said the U.S. will deal with North Korea's nuclear threats with or without China.
Hundreds of demonstrators clashed with Venezuelan security forces in Caracas. The opposition controlled national assembly called for Tuesday's march in the capital. It started ahead of a vote by lawmakers to remove members of Venezuela's top court. Supreme Court judges tried to seize power from the Congress last week.
We want to turn back to Syria now where Russia has come to the defense of the Assad regime once again. A warning the images you are about to see are very disturbing. The U.N. Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting but it's
unclear what they can do with Russia's track record on vetoing resolutions against Syria.
Meanwhile, the U.S. finds itself in a foreign policy dilemma. The White House seems to be distancing itself from the past administration Syrian policy while maintaining the same strategy. Just listen to Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Today's chemical attack in Syria against innocent people including women and children is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world.
These heinous actions by the bizarre al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a quote-unquote, "red line" against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Sean Spicer there and the U.N. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson just reacted to the Russian's claim. He says he hasn't seen anything that lead him to believe the Syrian government is not responsible for the tragedy. He went on to say the Assad government has no compassion for its own people.
Well, Fawaz Gerges is the chair of contemporary Middle East studies at the London School of Economics; he joins us now live from London. Thanks so much for being with us. It's always good to talk with you.
[03:34:57] And of course, the images are horrifying, the outcome heartbreaking and fingers are pointing at the Assad regime which denies using chemical weapons against its people. Instead, blaming the rebels.
And of course, now we know Russia has come out in support of Syria with its own version of what happened. What do the facts actually tell us, though?
FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Well, Rosemary, it's very difficult to establish conclusive -- I mean, statement or judgment at this particular moment. We don't have all the pieces to connect all the pieces.
But this is not the first or the last time that basically attacks, gas attacks have taken place in Syria. This is not the first or the last time that the Syrian regime has used gas as a tool of attack according to the United Nations.
The United Nations says that the Assad regime has used gas at least on four occasions. Of course, what do you expect from the Russian government? The Russian government would like to protect Assad. The Russian government is a guarantee that somehow all chemical weapons and gas weapons have been basically dismantled inside Syria.
It seems to me that the evidence speaks for itself. Only the Syrian government has the capabilities to carry out such an attack from the air so far, even though we have to wait and see if any kind of committee, United Nations committee can establish facts.
CHURCH: And, of course, U.S. President Donald Trump condemned the chemical weapons attack and blamed President Assad, but he also blamed former President Barack Obama. But didn't offer any solution or suggest that he might change the strategy at all. How helpful is that when the U.S. president turns on his predecessor instead of moving forward in such a critical situation like this?
GERGES: I mean, Rosemary, what Donald Trump's spokesperson said yesterday tells me a great deal that President Donald Trump has not made the transition to president. He is still running for the presidency of the United States. He has been the president for the past few months. Now he owns the presidency. He is the leader, the most powerful nation in the world, point one.
Point two, basically, if you really delve deeper, if you read carefully, if you listen carefully to everything that the Trump administration has said about Syria, it's basically an extension of the Obama administration approach with one particular caveat. Its lack of concern for the Syrian people and its obsession with ISIS.
If there is a Trump doctrine, and there is no Trump doctrine, I would call it it's really ISIS first and ISIS last. What Donald Trump does not understand is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are a symptom of the raging conflicts inside Syria and Iraq.
What I'm trying to say is Donald Trump must put his cards on the table. I'm here sitting in the heart of Europe in London. I can tell you, Rosemary, that European diplomats, de Mistura, the U.N. special representatives -- representative is still waiting, are still waiting for the ideas from the Trump administration.
What is the Trump version on Syria? Hardly anything. It's only hot power and ISIS. It has really outsource the Syrian portfolio to Russia. So, it's not only blaming Barack Obama.
Final point on this question, Rosemary, in 2013, Donald Trump made it very clear that Barack Obama was correct not to carry out attacks against Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons.
So, the reality is what we need now, let's stop talking about Barack Obama. Barack Obama acknowledged the mistakes that he made in Syria. What is the Trump approach to really resolving the conflict in Syria? It's not about condemnation. It's about diplomatic engagement, serious diplomatic engagement to find a solution to end the bloodshed that has basically exacted a heavy toll on Syria and the neighborhood as well.
CHURCH: All right, Fawaz Gerges, thank you so much for your analysis. We appreciate it.
Well, immigration anxiety, identity politics, and the future of the European Union, big issues that stirred heated rhetoric at the latest French presidential debate. With the first round vote less than three weeks away.
Melissa Bell has been gauging reaction to Tuesday's face-off in Paris.
MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Eleven candidates shared a stage tonight on live French television. The first time that a candidate debate had been held for the first round of the presidential election.
[03:39:57] There were three drawn from right wing parties, four candidates drawn from the left and four who described themselves as independents. And this with a French public that really has yet to make up its mind.
There are historically high levels of undecided voters with less than three weeks to go before the first round of voting, which is why every minute of this three-hour debate mattered.
Among the topics that dominated was of course the one that is dominating this campaign partly because it is a subject close to the heart of one of the women who is leading the race in the polls, the far-right Marine Le Pen. Here is how she opened tonight's debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARINE LE PEN, NATIONAL FRONT PARTY PRESIDENT (through translator): I consider that this election is really about the civilization stakes. I think that after five years of right wing, five years of left wing, our country, France, has been really plunged into insecurity, Islamic terrorism, and obviously a protest against our deepest possible values and our national identity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: Now, we came here to one of what the French call the value as to try and follow this debate, an idea of how people outside of Paris and the sorts of suburbs that have traditionally had things like higher levels of unemployment than the national average.
And questions about identity, because so many people that live here have parents who came of foreign origin, were born and raised in France. But some people find themselves fort of having to answer to that question of national identity and whether or not they belong.
We went around the restaurant trying to find out whether they had been convinced by the candidates in the debate and what they made of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every year is like the same and we just see the politicians on the TV. You never see them on the field, in action or like people, making them change their minds. And like we just like want somebody that like be on the middle to be like really in good connection between all Europe and for France as well. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This moment we're here, our politicians thinking
more about terrorists, they speak more about problems than solution. So, we have to think for a good future and the better person for this I think Emmanuel Macron.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If I had to make a choice it would be for Fillon. He's the only one with a career and the charisma of a president. The others have good ideas but he is the only one for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: A little taste of the view here in (Inaudible) on the outskirts of Paris with less than three weeks to go before the first round of voting in what looks to be a very hard election to call. For the time being Marine Le Pen and the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron lead the pack. But there is a sense that with just three weeks ago anything could still happen particularly given the number of French people who have yet to make up their mind.
Melissa Bell, CNN on the outskirts of Paris.
CHURCH: After this short break, the U.S. electronics ban is already causing headaches for some airline passengers. Now officials say they could expand the list to include even more devices. We'll explain when we come back.
[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, the ban on electronics aboard some flights to the U.S. could expand to even more devices and airports. The Department of Homeland Security says the change won't happen any time soon, but an expansion may be in the future.
The ban requires passengers to check any electronic devices bigger than a smartphone. That includes laptops, cameras, gaming devices and tablets such as iPods. Ten airports across eight countries are covered including Cairo, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, Doha, Kuwait City, Casa Blanca along with Jeddah and Riyadh.
Well, the U.S. and China have a new missile launch to worry about. This one was a medium range ballistic missile that landed in the sea of Japan also known as the East Sea. This comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is set to meet with China's President Xi Jinping on Thursday. Here's why the two leaders disagree on North Korea and on many other issues.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matt Rivers in Beijing.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping may be in a relaxed setting when they meet at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. But the issues on the table very tense ones. North Korea high on the agenda. President Trump wants China to help
more in restraining North Korea's nuclear weapons program, but just this weekend said that if Beijing does not work to stop it, the U.S. will, telling the Financial Times, "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will."
Beijing is North Korea's only real ally and accounts for some 70 percent of the country's trade. Trump blames China for not using enough of that leverage to curb North Korea's march towards developing a nuclear tip missile that could one day be capable of reaching the United States.
RIVERS: But Jim, China sees things very differently. It is balking at further economic pressure on Pyongyang. Regime collapse is the last thing it wants. China says North Korea's fear of U.S. aggression is at the root of its nuclear arsenal. China suggests the U.S. stop its regular massive war games with South Korea with the quid pro quo that North Korea stops its missile and nuclear testing.
The U.S. and China don't see eye to eye on trade either. President Xi has been marketing himself as a champion of free trade and globalization. The deal here is that though there is room for improvement, globalization is a win/win scenario. But a trade war between the world's two largest economies would make everyone lose.
SCIUTTO: Well, but Matt, Donald Trump has a very different point of view. China by far the largest source of the U.S. half a trillion dollar trade deficit, President Trump is accused China of being responsible for stealing U.S. jobs and hurting the U.S. economy.
Trump signed executive orders last week initiating a large-scale review of the causes of the U.S. trade deficits. China will be a focal point of that review. Regional security, a thorny issue between the U.S. and China, one big point of contention, the South China Sea where China has built and is militarizing in the view of the U.S., islands in international waters along crucial shipping routes for the region and for global trade.
Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that China should be blocked from accessing those artificial islands it has built setting the stage for a potential conflict.
RIVERS: China just doesn't buy that. Beijing insists that the South China Sea is historically Chinese and it has the right to develop it and defend it as it sees fit. Disputes with the other regional claimants should be dealt with by the countries involved and the U.S. has no business to meddle. Those are just some of the issues that Presidents Trump and Xi are likely to tackle when they meet at Mar-a- Lago.
SCIUTTO: This U.S.-China summit is crucial. What comes out of this two-day meeting could set the tone for U.S.-China relations for the next four years.
For Matt Rivers in Beijing, I'm Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington. CHURCH: And we turn to the weather now. And Pedram Javaheri is here,
our meteorologist, and we want to look at the extreme heat that's building across India because it is building at an alarming rate, isn't it?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It is. This time of year we typically begin to see the pre-monsoon heat come in. And Rosemary, one thing that fascinates me with India is when you think about the population of the country; about 300 million people have no access to electricity so we're talking about no air conditioning, of course, no fan, no refrigeration.
Three hundred million people equivalent to the U.S. population nearly without electricity. So when we're talking about extreme heat they're feeling it in a very large way.
[03:49:59] So we'll show you exactly how hot we're talking about across this region because this time of year typically from April into May, you're talking about the warmest time of year. Again, degrees in neighboring Pakistan. Forty four Celsius is 111 Fahrenheit average temperature this time of year, a good 7 to 8 degrees or so cooler than that.
So, yes, it is running above where it should be for even the hottest time of the year which is typically right now across India. But the Indian meteorological department, actually issuing a statement there talking about the warm temperature trend expected over the next three months, April through June, a 1-degree Celsius above normal expected across much of the northern tier of the subcontinent.
Wonder may not sound like much but when you take that over a three- month period again in an area where 300 million have no electricity, it is an extreme amount of anomaly for temperatures in place. The human body does a fantastic job wanting to cool itself off. Thirty seven Celsius, that's your core temperature, your body will try hardest to keep the temperatures at that regulated at that number.
But when you have extreme humidity in place as we are experiencing across India, very little evaporation takes that off your skin. So of course your core temperature rapidly rises. And if you take a look at the deadliest heat waves, India and Pakistan, in fact, two of the top five come in place there for deadly heat waves. In recent years, actually.
Then you work your way into the top 10, notice India and Pakistan yet again making the list several times. So, very, very serious situation developing across parts of India.
Here's what it looks like as far as the color contours encompassing all the red all the extreme heat that's in place the next several days. Look at these readings. Calcutta, 34 degrees is what is expected for high temperature. It will feel like 42 outside.
Allahabad and New Delhi, work your way of (Inaudible) in areas of Ahmad and Abad, (Ph) temperatures close to 40 degrees with the extreme humidity in place. And again, once you get the heat that builds across the Indian subcontinent, that disparity between the cooler waters offshore sets off the monsoons and that eventually brings in the wet weather as we go into the month of May and June.
So that is what eventually brings in much cooler temperatures. So this is precisely what we see every single year but of course we know our planet is warming at a very rapid rate as well and the people that deal with this at the most extreme extent is our people across India.
CHURCH: Of course, yes, it is a real worry for them indeed. Many thanks.
JAVAHERI: Absolutely. Thanks, Rosie.
CHURCH: I appreciate it.
Well, a teen refugee from Africa has earned the opportunity of a lifetime. The details just ahead.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, a teenager who fled war in two African countries has earned a four-year scholarship to Harvard University in the United States.
Shelley Walcott from CNN affiliate of WMUR has the details of her remarkable journey.
[03:54:58] SHELLEY WALCOTT, WMUR CO-ANCHOR: She's one of the country's best and brightest students. But for Esther Elonga, the road to Harvard has not been easy. It started when her family had to flee their Native Congo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ESTHER ELONGA, RECEIVES HARVARD UNIVERSITY SCHOLARSHIP: Because of wars and insecurity, my family had to move from the Congo to Uganda. So we lived in Uganda as refugees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALCOTT: Esther and her parents and two sisters were resettled in New Hampshire two years ago. She is now an 18-year-ols at a Concord high school. Not an easy feat considering English isn't even Esther's first language.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELONGA: Swahili is my first language. And I also speak Lingala which is also my first -- my other first language.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALCOTT: But it didn't take long for people at Concord high to notice that Esther was no ordinary student.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANNA-MARIE DIPASQUALE, SOCIAL WORKER, CONCORD HIGH SCHOOL: Her
insights are so incredible. She's well read. So in addition to her AP courses and every advance course, she reads a lot of books. She's always reading, she's always studying. So she'll have so much to offer when she goes in the classroom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALCOTT: And Esther has made strides outside the classroom as well.
ELONGA: I joined the cross country club, and the girls are so supportive and so friendly. They Build the Change Club. Like, everything here at Concord High School helped me to get to where I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALCOTT: Esther plans to major in chemistry and hopes to eventually become an anesthesiologist. And while the future is bright, memories of the past are still fresh.
ELONGA: Most of the children that I left in Africa, most of them who are my friends, were people who were as bright as anyone or who are as smart. But could never have the opportunity of going to school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Incredible story there of inspiration. And great bravery, too.
Thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. I want to hear from you. The news continues with Isa Soares in London. You're watching CNN. Have a great day.
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