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Pyongyang Claims Successful ICBM Launch; G20 Summit; America's New Standing in the World; Leadership Criticize U.S. Absence On World Stage. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 5, 2017 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone. This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour for you, missile with a message: North Korea now says it can strike any country on the planet. The U.S. and South Korea are sobacter (ph) that.

The U.S. president preparing for Poland and then a pivotal face-to- face meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20.

Plus America's new standing in the world. Why many global leaders are looking past Donald Trump.

Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes and this is NEWSROOM L.A.


HOLMES: Thanks for your company, everyone.

The U.S. and South Korea say they want to send a warning to Kim Jong- un one day after his latest missile test and so they conducted a joint military drill on Wednesday to showcase their ability to strike back at Pyongyang in case of emergency.

North Korea claims it tested a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile early on Tuesday that could possibly hit the U.S. mainland. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says it is a new escalation of the threat against the U.S., its allies and the world.

Let's bring in CNN's Andrew Stevens in Hong Kong. We've also got journalist Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo and CNN's Ivan Watson in Moscow.

Andrew, let's start with you in Hong Kong. As the world condemns this latest test, the North Korea leader reportedly promising more of the same.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: That's right, Michael. That's still a very -- not surprisingly belligerent tone coming from North Korea. Kim Jong-un was reportedly at the launch site, watching it live; this

is according to KCNA, which is the North Korean news agency. And he said at that launch that this was a package of gifts to the U.S. on its Independence Day and he urged the scientists to continue to send big and small gifts to the Yankees, as he called them.

So make it very clear there that North Korea is not finished with its testing, both of missile technology and also of nuclear technology. Now Kim's people are also saying this was a chance for them to perfect various technical specifications for an ICBM, an intercontinental ballistic missile.

They said the tests had been an enormous success and they had been able to develop the warhead to reenter the atmosphere, to take heat resistance, et cetera.

So they're still going very strongly with their nuclear and missile technology developments.

Now the response, as you say, with South Korea and the U.S. having these missile tests in the seas of South Korea. And South Korea were very, very clear, saying this was a precision targeting of the enemy leadership should there be an emergency.

So they were replying very clearly to North Korea's provocation with their own. This is just hours after the Chinese and Russian leaders had both called on the U.S. and South Korea to stop carrying out these joint military drills. So, obviously, that was being ignored by the U.S. and South Korea -- Michael.

HOLMES: Messages from both sides. Thanks so much, Andrew.

Ivan Watson in Moscow, let's bring you into the conversation now. Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, had a meeting; North Korea obviously very high on that agenda.

What did we hear?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That was here in Moscow and it coincided with the missile launch in North Korea.

Both countries put out a joint statement, where they expressed concern about the missile launch but stopped short at condemning it. Both Russia and China are signatories to United Nations Security Council resolutions which effectively ban North Korea from nuclear weapons tests and further developing its ballistic missile technology.

The two leaders put forward a proposed plan for deescalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, calling for what they described as a, quote, "double freeze," which would mean that North Korea would suspend its nuclear weapons program and simultaneously the U.S. and South Korea would agree to stop all joint military exercises, which, of course, infuriate North Korea.

They also went further and basically took the opportunity to make some jabs against the U.S., saying that they don't want the U.S. -- [02:05:00]

WATSON: -- to use the missile launch as a pretext for adding more weapons systems to South Korea. Both Moscow and Beijing do not like the recent deployment of the U.S. anti-missile system known as THAAD.

And in this same joint document, they also said that they, in general, oppose the presence of U.S. troops in South Korea in general. That is a -- an opposition, a position of opposition from Beijing and Moscow that is unlikely to get very far with the U.S. since it has had troops deployed on the Korean Peninsula since the Korean War some 70 years ago -- Michael.

HOLMES: Ivan Watson in Moscow.

And Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo now, somewhere else the U.S. has troops positioned as well.

There's a very strong reaction from Tokyo yesterday at this time, when this was all unfolding.

What's been happening there?

And also what concerns there are for Japanese military to have its own defenses against, perhaps, an errant missile from North Korea?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, Michael, the sheer proximity of Japan to North Korea leaves Japan in a very vulnerable situation. And I think that's why there was some fairly strong language from the Japanese government fairly quickly after this latest missile launch.

And the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is now making his way, first to Brussels to meet with the E.U. and later to Hamburg to meet with the leaders of the G20, to try and see if he can bring together the international community, to try and reach some kind of consensus for a stronger response to these provocative moves from North Korea, especially because years of sanctions and trade embargos by many nations have failed to contain the threat of the heightening risks in the area.

But I think at the same time many of the options that Japan has, including, Michael, the possibility of increasing its ability to deter a missile, should something approach the mainland here in Japan, are fairly limited; because, for example, if Japan were to upgrade its current anti-missile system and upgrade, for example, to a THAAD system, the defense minister has said that Japan considering doing it.

But this would really upset China. China was very upset with the South Korea with the THAAD system. Imagine what their reaction would be if Japan were to do the same, not to mention, of course, the Article 9 in the Japanese constitution, which prohibits the defense forces, the military here, from doing anything other than self- defense.

So I think Japan's hands are tied if they are to act alone. And so more -- even more critical that Japan try to engage not only South Korea and the United States but try to involve Russia and China in taking more of what the prime minister says constructive action.

HOLMES: Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo, also Ivan Watson in Moscow, Andrew Stevens in Hong Kong, thanks to all of you.

Joining me now is CNN military analyst, Lt. Col. Rick Francona.

Always good to see you, Colonel. South Korea and the United States conducted that joint ballistic missile drill on Wednesday. It was interesting, South Korean defense ministry, saying, as Andrew Stevens reported, it showcased precision targeting of the enemy's leadership in case of an emergency.

Is that helpful in this situation?

One thing the North has demanded is an end to joint military exercises, here' really a joint drill.

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, the timing is very suspect; right after the Chinese and the Russians say that they're willing to work on freezing the North Korean program if we also agree to freeze the U.S. and South Korean military drills, and then we do this.

The weapons that they use are very interesting. These are long-range tactical ballistic missiles. And they would be the weapon of choice if you were going to try some sort of presumed (ph) strike. And the weapons used are very accurate.

So I think we're trying to send a message back to North Korea. I don't know how effective that's going to be. I think nothing has deterred the Koreans so far. They seem just hell-bent on developing this capability and there's a real rush to this.

Notice the pace of the tests that we're seeing.

HOLMES: That's a good point, I mean, a message certainly.

But is it a message that could be heated or could be seen as a provocation?

FRANCONA: Well, I don't know if they regard it as a provocation. If I was the North Koreans, I would be looking at this as maybe a weak response. It seems like a desperation move. So we've got to do something. The North Koreans have just fired their first ICBM. We need to show them that we mean business.

And I think this was a pretty weak response.

HOLMES: Interesting analysis on that.


HOLMES: Now when it comes to the potential for a North Korean strike on the U.S., which is what the big fear is, from the U.S. position, what are the U.S. missile defense capabilities?

I mean, really, there wouldn't be a whole lot of warning if they had a missile that could do this.

What could the U.S. do about this?

FRANCONA: Well, that's the problem. We would -- for years now, we've been trying to develop an antiballistic missile defense system. And it's been off again, off again, depending on priorities and the threat assessment.

And when we were facing the Russians, the Soviets, we had mutually assured destruction and I think everybody realized that, if anybody started a war, it would be the end of both countries, so everybody was deterred.

We're not sure that would work with North Korea. So now there's this scramble to get an antiballistic missile system that works. And we've tried different things: the long-range missile interceptors coming out of Alaska, Hawaii, California. Also using U.S. Navy Aegis cruisers to provide some soft of defense to THAAD.

It's just a patchwork that really hasn't proved that effective.

HOLMES: It's interesting. The U.S., if there are defenses that would work, if the attack was an attack against U.S. forces in Japan or Korea or those two countries specifically.

FRANCONA: Yes, that's a different animal. Now Patriot batteries can handle the shorter-range ballistic missiles, the kind we would see fired from the North into the South, and the THAAD system, which we're in the process of deploying. But that's on hold at the request of the Korean government.

That would also get the medium-range ballistic missiles that would also come. So we've got defenses there. It's these long-range, the intermediate range and the intercontinental ballistic missiles that we're having problems with because they go up so high and, once they enter the terminal phase, very, very difficult to engage.

HOLMES: I wanted to ask you, too, Colonel, there's always the -- one of the major concerns has the been the possibility of the risk of miscalculation. One of these missiles going off course, hitting something, be it the coast of Japan or a ship in the sea and what that could spark.

FRANCONA: Or just the impression that is going to -- coming at Japan.

If the Japanese track it coming toward their territory, are they going to respond?

And how are they going to respond?

Are they going to launch an attack?

Are they going to try and knock it down?

Or are they willing to absorb a blow and then respond? So a whole bunch of questions we don't know the answers to. I can tell you, though, if a missile is launched at the United States and we believe that it's a threat, we will be forced to react.

And what's interesting is, you know, we were talking about the flight times. We're talking 37 minutes. That's not a whole lot of time to make a decision.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly. And yes, you've got to be pretty accurate. That's a difficult situation.

Lt. Col. Rick Francona, always good to see you, sir. Thank you so much.

President Trump heading out of the country in a few hours to the G20 summit and a key meeting on the sidelines. We will preview that trip coming up on the program.

Also, Mr. Trump placing another test in global diplomacy while leaders question if it the U.S. wants to play a major role in world affairs at all.





HOLMES: Welcome back.

In a few hours, U.S. President Donald Trump will leave Washington and head to Europe. Close attention is going to be paid to his first stop, which will be in Poland, and also of course to that sideline meeting at the G20 summit. Ryan Nobles with a preview.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Donald Trump prepares for the second overseas trip of his presidency, rising tensions around the globe are raising the stakes for his meetings with world leaders at the G20 summit in Germany.

From yet another missile launch by North Korea, to ongoing conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, to the growing threat from ISIS and terrorism around the world, all of these will be up for discussion as President Trump travels to the G20 summit in Germany.

But nothing will likely get as much attention as Trump's face-to-face meeting Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, an encounter that will now be a formal bilateral discussion, the first between the two countries' presidents in nearly two years.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset rather than a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia.

NOBLES: Russia is a country many U.S. leaders, both Republican and Democrat view as one of America's biggest foreign threat. But the Trump administration is hopeful for a break-through.

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Our relationship with Russia is not different from any other country in terms of us communicating to them really what our concerns are, where we see problems in the relationship but also opportunities.

NOBLES: The meeting comes amidst some ongoing special counsel investigation and multiple congressional probes are under way regarding Russia's meddling in the U.S. election, though it's not clear if the issue will be raised when the leaders meet.

Instead, administration officials tell CNN the president plans to focus the time on Syria and Ukraine.

In addition to his time with Putin, Trump will also huddle with China's President Xi Jinping, a meeting that will be critical after North Korea's latest missile tests and recent U.S. sanctions against a Chinese bank for allegedly aiding North Korea.

TRUMP: The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed. Many years and it's failed. And frankly, that patience is over.

NOBLES: Trump signaled his impatience with the regime during a meeting with South Korea's leader a week ago.

And last night on Twitter, he took it a step further, specifically calling on the leaders in the region to do more, writing, quote, "North Korea has just launched another missile.

"Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?"

"Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all."

This as Trump delivered a promise to veterans gathered at the White House for Independence Day.

I will always have your back. I will always under all circumstances.

And while President Trump is calling on China to do more as it relates to North Korea, Russia is slowly inserting itself into the situation. Presidents Putin and Xi held a press conference, where Putin said more needs to be done including the increased deployment of weapons --


NOBLES: -- by the United States into South Korea -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, at the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: Now as we've reported, President Trump's first stop on this trip is going to be Warsaw, Poland, and that's where we find our Melissa Bell, who joins us now live.

Melissa, he's going to find a warm welcome there in Poland.

But what are the Polish leaders expecting to hear from Donald Trump in terms of reassurance?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're expecting -- Polish leaders, that is, Michael -- are expecting two very strong signals from Donald Trump: first of all, his commitment to the article of the NATO treaty that calls for mutual defense in case of aggression by a foreign nation.

Of course, we're very close here in Warsaw to the Russian border and Polish leaders want to hear first and foremost that Donald Trump does stand by that clause, that in the past he's failed to mention, most notably in May at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

They're also looking to hear that he is willing, that he is keen to help them to achieve one of their important energy objectives and that is to lessen their dependence on Russian natural gas. Now those are two things that Donald Trump will be expected to be quite strong on.

But all of his words are going to be carefully pored over. He's going to make a big speech here in Warsaw tomorrow, Michael. And it's going to be something of a tightrope that he's walking on one hand, trying to live up to the expectations of his hosts on both those crucial questions without alienating those allies of the United Nations, historical allies in Western Europe, because, of course, there's a great deal of concern in Brussels particularly about this visit.

After all, Donald Trump is visiting Warsaw and Poland before he's going to visit the United Kingdom, France and Germany. They will be watching closely to see what criticisms if any he is likely to make of some of the concerns that Brussels has about the way that Poland is being run, particular concerns about the freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary.

And all of this, of course, is going to be very closely watched as well by Russia.

HOLMES: Indeed. Good to see you. Thanks so much. Melissa Bell there in Warsaw in Poland.

Michael Genovese joins us now. He is a political analyst and president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.

Thanks for being here, first of all.

What do you think is at stake here for President Donald Trump as he goes to the G20, this international stage?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Well, he's on the defensive. I think very clearly he's got the Russia problem. He's got the problem of NATO and Europe, North Korea.

He wants a lot out of this meeting and yet it doesn't seem like the Europeans are ready to give him what he wants because it's a reciprocal relationship. And he hasn't been playing well with others.

HOLMES: It was interesting to hear the national security adviser, McMaster saying that the subjects that the president was going to discuss with Vladimir Putin were what he wants to discuss, that there was no formal agenda.

Does that surprise you?

These things are normally worked out in detail well in advance.

GENOVESE: Well, there was supposed to be just an informal sitdown. It became very quickly a formal meeting. That's unusual because normally that takes weeks to prepare. You do all kinds of background work. You get down what you want to achieve, what you want to talk about, what you want to say. And both sides do that.

Donald Trump doesn't like to be prepared. He doesn't like to be scripted. He thinks he's a great negotiator and can go in there and wow Putin. Putin's smart as a whip and Putin's going to be ready for him. And so it's almost like Donald Trump might be walking into a trap that he set for himself.

HOLMES: You think he knows what he's dealing with?

GENOVESE: No. I think past this prelude, what we're going to see is that he has this strong affection for Vladimir Putin that is inexplicable. Here's a man, who attacked the United States' electoral system and he keeps saying nice things about him.

Putin, his background in the KGB, his guileful leadership, he punches above his weight, I think he's a lot to handle on the best of circumstances. And so I think Trump should be well prepared. I think he's walking in unprepared.

HOLMES: Vladimir Putin not a man who's prone to ad lib in those sorts of situations.

I'm wondering, in the broader European situation, you see a perception in Europe that diplomacy, as far as the U.S. is concerned, is being pushed to the back burner, that the State Department has been, in some ways, downgraded quite literally in terms of its staffing.

And the Trump administration listens more to generals than diplomats.

Is that a perception you think exists in Europe now?

GENOVESE: Well, Europe is watching this carefully and they see all these top positions in State that aren't filled. And what the G20 summit's going to suggest is that there are three big movements taking place that they're going to have to deal with.

[02:25:00] GENOVESE: One is the obvious rise of China.

How do the G20 nations deal with that?

China wants to exert global leadership.

Will the G20 let them?

Second thing is America's withdrawal from power internationally, which we're doing by our own devices. I mean, we're just pulling back.

The third thing is, can Europe fill that gap?

And that means can Merkel and Macron do it?

And NATO is in some difficulty now because they're weaker than they were two years ago. The Brexit situation has really affected them. And so this could be the most controversial G20 meeting in the last decade.

HOLMES: As the U.S. pulls back -- and it's a conscious thing in many ways; America first, let everyone worry about their own problems.

Who then does win?

I mean, you mentioned Angela Merkel.

Is she now the leader of the free world?

Or does Vladimir Putin win?

Does China win in an economic sense?

GENOVESE: Well, China and the Soviet Union might win. Merkel certainly is the titular leader. She is perceived as the leader of the West, as Donald Trump has pulled America back.

Whether she wants to be that out front and vocal is another question. She tends to be more reserved. Macron, on the other hand, has leapt into the position of power. And so what you might see is that a combination of French and German power guides the G20 and guides NATO in the future.

HOLMES: It's a whole new dynamic. Michael Genovese, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate your expertise.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

HOLMES: Time for a quick break here on the program. "STATE OF AMERICA" with Kate Bolduan is next for our viewers in Asia. For everyone else, North Korea claims its new missile can carry a nuclear warhead. Just ahead, why my next guest has no doubt that is the regime's goal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [02:30:14] HOLMES: Welcome back everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Michael Holmes. It is 11:30 p.m. on the west coast of the U.S.

The U.S. and South Korea are sending a blunt warning to North Korea after Pyongyang's missile test. They held a joint military drill firing missiles off in the eastern coast of South Korea.

The Pentagon says the exercise shows they can target with precision. Meanwhile, North Korea says the intercontinental ballistic missile, it claims to a successfully can carry a nuclear warhead. Pyongyang said on Tuesday, its new long-range missile can quote, reach anyone in the world.

The U.N. Security Council is going to be holding an emergency meeting on Wednesday after a request by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

CNN's Barbara Starr now with more on what the U.S. knows about North Korea's missile launch.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the first images of the North Korean missile launch the U.S. never wanted to see.

U.S. officials calculate this is likely a two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile, an ICBM that could some day hit parts of the United States.

U.S. spy satellites for days had picked up imagery of a potential KN- 17 missile launch, like this one launched in May being ready. Now, the latest assessment suggests the new launch was a more advanced missile that traveled farther than any previous missile test.

The South Korean and U.S. military estimates the missile traveled more than 580 miles in 37 minutes. Based on this, experts calculate the missile could have a maximum range of roughly 4,160 miles, long enough to reach all of Alaska but not the rest of the U.S.

DAVID WRIGHT, GLOBAL SECURITY PROGRAM: The effort over that missile technology has been around for a long time. So, there are no particular secrets. A lot of it is just figuring out how to do the hard engineering and basically get everything to work at the same time which not always easy to do.

(voice-over): The new launch comes as North Korea also continues to pursue the development of a nuclear warhead.

ADMIRAL HARRY HARRIS, COMMANDER U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND: Combining nuclear warheads with ballistic missile technologies in the hands of Kim Jong-un is a recipe for disaster. So, I must take him at his word. I must assume that his claims are true. I know his aspirations certainly are.

(voice-over): Top officials from the state department, the Pentagon and the White House held meetings throughout the July 4th holiday. Administration officials emphasizing diplomacy but with tensions rising, everything is on the table.

WRIGHT: I think, essentially everyone agrees and I believe the Trump administration agrees as well that there are no good military options. So, if you take the military option off the table, you come back to sanctions. We've seen in the past it's not going to solve the problem.

(voice-over): The Russian and Chinese presidents offering up another solution at their meeting in Moscow, announcing they'll work together to freeze the North Korean program but demanding a stop to U.S./South Korean military exercises, and then to the said missile defense deployment to South Korea both nonstarters for the U.S.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): There is of course the whole question of the Korean peninsula, the building of peace and stability. It is very important to push forward our joint initiative on settling North Korean problem with the view of immediately freezing the ballistic missile strikes and also, dealing with the U.S. deployment of weapons of South Korea.

(on camera): U.S. military officials are emphasizing they are not looking for any kind of conflict on the Korean peninsula. But you could see more diplomatic options take shape and the possibility of an increased military troop presence in the coming weeks.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


HOLMES: And Adam Mount joins us now via Skype from Washington. He's a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress. Good to see again, Adam.

In terms of the technology, it's not just a missile that North Korea would need to achieve its aim. It's got to be able to carry that miniaturized warhead. It's got to have a reliable guidance system. And it's got to have the ability to protect that warhead as it reenters the atmosphere, the heat and so on.

There's long been doubt that the north is there when it comes to those things. But there's North Korean statement on this test says, exactly that that those were the issues that were tested successfully. Do you buy it?

ADAM MOUNT, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, the primary objective of this test was to test the missile by itself and the ability of the North Korean regime to launch a missile with enough energy to reach ICBM radius.

[02:35:07] At the same time, these lots of test are also helpful in testing reentry vehicle technology to see angle of reentry entering your atmosphere helps them simulate longer range reentry angles and helps them perfect their reentry vehicle. So, it's clear that they are seeking that capability. HOLMES: When you look at where they are in terms of their missile program, what we actually know and the possibility that a nuclear tipped ICBM is not far off. Is to you the only option a nuclear armed North Korea?

MOUNT: That's where we're headed. And like it or not that's the world we're living in.

As you mentioned earlier, military options are essentially not under active consideration. It would be far too damaging to U.S. allies and to U.S. forces on the peninsula. It has the potential to escalate with -- into a nuclear exchange. It has the ability to draw in Russia and China which could lead to a wider conflict.

That's not something the United States is interested in risking. So, we are looking at a future where we have to contain and constrain and deter, a nuclear North Korea. That's not what we've been accustomed to. U.S. policy has been predicated on the assumption that we could denuclearize the regime. So, there's an adjustment that has to be made in Washington to start to think through how we can put in place a long-term, sustainable strategy to deter and contain the regime.

HOLMES: You mentioned policy it's an interesting conversation to have here. Now, despite a lot of saber rattling, the pushing of the onus for action on China, President Trump hasn't really explained any new approaches, has he, on how he would stop Pyongyang? He had that tweet back in January saying a nuclear weapon that could hit the U.S. shores in his words won't happen. But it looks like it is happening. What to you is the U.S. approach at the moment?

MOUNT: Michael, you're exactly right. This -- if this administration has a strategy on North Korea, I've seen very little evidence of it. They have said that it is not strategic patience. They've said repeatedly that the era of strategic patience is over, that time is running out.

But on the other hand their policy is practically indistinguishable from the Obama policy. Time and time again, Mr. Trump has approached China, seeking an easy solution to the problem. That solution is not there. He need to abandon the search for easy answers. End this fool's errand to hope that China will solve the problem for them neatly. And start to coordinate with U.S. allies on the very difficult task of long-term sustainable strategy.

HOLMES: And also diplomatic talks China would like them, South Korea would like them. I mean realistically, what are your thoughts about the option of that the likelihood of talks working. I mean there's being eight international agreements I think in recent years not one has worked and the people who he most recently spoke in North Korean said they weren't interested in coming to a deal.

MOUNT: The North Koreans have been adamant on that front. They say we're a nuclear power. We're not interested in denuclearizing. But on the other hand, I do think that it's worth engaging the regime. It's worth exploring the possibility of capping their nuclear missile tests. It may be enough to Kim Jong-un to have the notion of capability of threatening the continent to United States even if they haven't carried out the tests that would be necessary for that capability to be reliable in operational setting. So that may be something worth pursuing. But it's a slim chance.

What we'd been looking for in talks is for them to expand into an arms control regime on the peninsula. So, for example, you can limit the number and location of artillery pieces in and along that demilitarized zone that could stand a substantial chance of limiting the possibility of accidental conflict on the peninsula. That's worth exploring. It's not a slam dunk. It's not as good as full denuclearization. But it's better than nothing.

HOLMES: Adam Mount with Center for American Progress, always a pressure to get your expertise, thanks so much.

MOUNT: Thanks, Michael.

HOLMES: Well, world leaders are voicing concerns about a power vacuum in foreign affairs as the U.S. and its president put America first. How that could make for an interesting G20 Summit.

[02:39:48] We'll talk about that next.


HOLMES: Welcome back. President Trump heading out on his second international trip in the next few hours, he's going to stop in Warsaw in Poland to meet with leaders there. And then he's off to Germany for G20 which will include his first face to face meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Now, that won't be the only challenge Mr. Trump faces as countries around the world are criticizing U.S. leadership or lack thereof when it comes to foreign affairs. Have listen to some of these comments, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, a frequent Trump critic said, whoever believes the problems of this word can be solved by isolationism and protectionism is making a tremendous error.

Doesn't stop there, Canadian Foreign Affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland putting it, rather bluntly, saying quote, the fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course.

Even the Iraqi Vice President, Ayad Allawi telling CNN's Christiane Amanpour this last week.


AYAD ALLAWI, IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT: There is a vacuum in the overall leadership in the world. And the America, it needs to -- the Americas need to speed up there -- to get back to their role as an international power, important in their international power.


HOLMES: Dominic Thomas chairs the French Department at the UCLA. He joins me now via Skype from Paris, Dominic, great to see you.

I think you heard those comments there, Angela Merkel. I mean there's a long list of people in Europe leaders in Europe and elsewhere who are decrying America's step back. Does America first increasingly mean America alone at least to U.S. allies?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIR. DEPT.. OF FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES, UCLA: Well, it's certainly seeming this way, Michael. And we, you know, Angela Merkel's party is going off course to elections in September. And her party just shifted and essentially its manifesto from describing the United States, the Atlantic friends down to the question of partnership.

[02:45:06] And I think all of these questions really evolve around the definition of what is friendship and reliability, trust, predictability and these are the sort of questions that have rattled the international global and political landscape in the next few months.

Angela Merkel herself has come under criticism from President Trump on her migration policy, the commitment of United States, the international organization such as NATO and has been especially problematic, the refusal to sign the Paris court.

But I think perhaps most importantly, this sort of the notion of going alone and protectionism has been specially challenging to the European Union that over the last year particularly since the Brexit vote has been trying to sort of challenge populist far right political parties that have been critical of these kinds of institutions. And President Trump's comments have made it difficult for them to position themselves on these issues and these indeed are electorates.

HOLMES: And there's fallout from that as well. You know, there -- I want to pull up a graphic for people to look at, you know, a few weeks ago there was a Pew global attitudes poll.

And what people are seeing there on their screen, it shows Donald Trump with rock bottom approval ratings across the world. Now, this is compared to President Obama. And down the bottom right there, you can see only in Russia and Israel did more people trust Donald Trump to do the right thing than former President Barack Obama.

What does that say? I mean Donald Trump's support base says, this is what we elected him to do. Put Amarica first. Don't worry about the rest of that other stuff. We'll let them take care of themselves. But what damage does this do to U.S. standing when you see, you know, a graphic like where such large numbers of people say, we don't believe in Donald Trump to do the right thing when it comes to foreign policy?

THOMAS: Right. And certainly, this level of unpredictability and unreliability has been particularly destabilizing. As Angela Merkel pointed out, the world is very a complex space. And one can't simply rely on, you know, unilateral or, you know, sort of, you know, her policies and so on that you need to operate multilaterally. You need to work together on these concerns. And so, you have President Trump arriving at a G20 meeting with a sort of the shadow kind of threats and trade wars and so on. And it's rattling the leadership that has signed over the years a set of accords on climates, sustainability, the economy and so on. And all of these kinds of questions are being thrown up in the air.

One of the other major concerns of course, and this will be interesting with the presence of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president is of course going to the fact that, you know, the kinds of questioning of the European Union, the sort of the weak status of the United Kingdom today has left not only a kind of the gap across the channel but a gap in leadership across leadership the Atlantic as well with Donald Trump.

And this uncertainty as we go in to this G20 is of course heightened because the weakening of these institutions has of course worked into the hands of the Russian federation. And these kinds of questions of concern are of course at the top of the U.S. domestic agenda today because of the question of potential Russian involvement in the elections, but also then what in terms of what this means to the stability of the European Union and especially to the European Unions partners to the east of Europe.

HOLMES: And I was going to ask you just finally. I mean, if the U.S. is stepping back and consciously doing so and for whatever reasons that Donald Trump has and his administration has, who then wins, who steps into that role?

A lot of people see Angela Merkel as leader of the free world now such as it is. Or does Vladimir Putin get a shot at filling that back in China particularly in a geopolitical sense in their neck of the woods and economically globally as well. What damage is done to the U.S. as it steps back?

THOMAS: Well, people have looked to the U.S. for not only global leadership but also moral leadership. And at the moment this remains in question which is of course allowed for other major international players to try and position themselves to fill that situation.

All of the leaders you just mentioned have different claims of being able to do that, the weakening of NATO, the weakening of the European Union, the weakening of the Atlantic relationship and of the United Kingdom's role in the U.K. of course plays into the hands of Russia.

But when one looks at the bigger picture today, Angela Merkel of course, you know, unambiguously have sort of emerged as a strong leader globally and in the European Union. But she's up for reelection. She has to be very careful as to how this G20 Summit goes in her own country, she answerable to her constituency. But she also doesn't want it to be a complete failure.

The interesting other counterpart is of course the election of this new young French president, Emmanuel Macron who rather than shying away from interactions with Donald Trump, has invited him the following week to the Bastille Day celebrations in France. [02:50:08] And so, that's an interesting position of engagement. But it's also a power play in a way to say, you know, we want to maintain this relationship with the United States. We worked with their very long history. We're here celebrating or commemorating the entry of United States into the First World War in 1917. That's a long history here. And we need engage and talk and find ways to compromise.

HOLMES: It certainly going to be interesting to see how that void is filled. Dominic, I wish we had more time, Dominic Thomas there, who chairs the French Department of UCLA joining us from Paris. Thanks so much.

THOMAS: Thank you.

HOLMES: All right, we're going to take a short break here on NEWSROOM L.A. Be right back there.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: -- British Columbia there also remaining very nice and dry as well, the trend across the northeastern U.S. remains dry with a warning trend eventually taking this up to around 31 degrees out of the nation's capitol.

Down toward the Caribbean watching an area here for some thunderstorms to develop and also watching something off shore, how about an 80 chance that we will have our next disturbance form here. This could very likely to be tropical storm, Don. If it does form, we're watching models here really want to push this out towards the Leeward Islands. There is some disagreement as you get towards the latter portion of this. But potentially, could bring it very close towards portions of at least Bermuda if not areas around the eastern United States.

Now, if you have any weather photos, share it with us using #CNNweather.


HOLMES: Welcome back. India's prime minister on an historic trip to Israel marking 25 years of diplomatic relations between those two countries.

Narendra Modi was greeted by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. It's the first time in Indian prime minister has visited Israel. His three-day trip coming after the two countries signed a defense deal in April worth almost $2 billion.

[02:55:05] Israel calling it the largest defense contract deal in its history. Mr. Modi, shared orders not include a stop in the Ramallah, the home of the Palestinian authority.

Now, the United States has been awash in red, white and blue to celebrate its 241st birthday.

The country capping off Independence Day celebrations with of course traditional fireworks shows all across the nation like this colorful display in New Jersey's Liberty State Park. Further to the west, shimmering pyrotechnics in waking up the sky in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This is what turning your eyes sky got you in Kansas City in Kansas. And the 4th of July would not be complete without the annual fireworks display on the mall in nation's capitol, Washington D.C. And they are still going off around Los Angeles. I can attest to that where it is nearly midnight.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Michael Holmes, the news continues with Hannah Vaughan Jones in London right after this short break. Thanks for your company. This is CNN.