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G20 Summit; U.S. Bombers Fly over Korean Peninsula; The Battle for Raqqa; Giant Iceberg Could Soon Break Free; Pence on NASA. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired July 8, 2017 - 00:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The streets of Hamburg, Germany, are quieter now after more violent protests overnight, not far from the world leaders had been meeting.

Also: it looked friendly but was it?

More on what the U.S. and Russia are saying about the Trump-Putin meeting.

Plus the U.S. Vice president promises a lofty American goal far from the confines of planet Earth.

Thank you for joining us, everyone. I'm Cyril Vanier, live from the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta.


VANIER: Saturday is the last day of the G20 summit, several big meetings for the U.S. president starting in about three hours. Donald Trump will meet British prime minister Theresa May. He will also talk with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

But a later meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping could be the most contentious of them all. The two leaders last met at the White House in April and since then Mr. Trump has grown frustrated with China's failure to rein in North Korea, which, just days ago, tested an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Meanwhile the summit has been drawing intense protests for the past few days. Special forces have now started to clear areas of the city as things appear to calm down. But just a few hours ago, Friday night demonstrations hit a boiling point, as you see there, with protesters setting fires and losing stores.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen was in the middle of it.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You will see the street over there. There is a fire that's still burning where the clashes are taking place between some of the protesters that are remaining and the police, who are using water cannons, they're still using tear gas as well.

Intermittently, you will see folks running out of that street and come towards where we are. That has been happening. I have to say clashes since we last spoke, which I think was a little under an hour ago, they have gotten a little less; there have been fewer, I would say.

People who are still out here clashing with the police. Nevertheless, as you can see, it still is very much ongoing. There still are fires here in this area and some looting going on as well, which we have also seen.

These clashes were pretty big throughout course of the day; I've covered similar protests many, many times and it has been a very, very long time since I have seen clashes that went on for such a very long time and also in such a big area as we're seeing right here tonight.

It really isn't very far from where all those heads of state are meeting for the G20. Of course, one of the things that the protesters have said that they want to do is disrupt the G20 summit.

We have already heard that in part they have been actively successful doing that, disrupting, for instance, Melania Trump's schedule. We're going to stay here because usually the clashes don't come this far.

But this is still very much an active situation that is playing out here at a little past 1:00 am Hamburg time.


VANIER: Since Thursday, nearly 200 officers have been hurt. Dozens of protesters have been arrested.

On to the actual diplomacy around the G20 summit now and the much anticipated meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

The American and Russian presidents met face-to-face on Friday. The talk was scheduled to last just a little over a half hour but in the end it went on for more than two hours.

U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson said the very first issue Mr. Trump raised was Russia's alleged interference in last year's U.S. presidential election.


REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.

The two leaders agreed, though, that this is a substantial hindrance in the ability of us to move the Russian-U.S. relationship forward and agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process, as well as those of other countries.



SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): President Trump said he heard Putin's very clear statements that this is not true and that the Russian government did not interfere in the elections and that he accepts these statements. That's it.


VANIER: So that bears repeating. After the meeting the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, you just heard him there, insisted that President Trump had accepted Mr. Putin's denial of Russian interference.

However, a senior U.S. administration official told CNN that is not so. Mr. Trump, he said, did not accept Mr. Putin's denial. The two men agreed to a ceasefire for parts of Syria and also talked about Ukraine. CNN's Matthew Chance told us how the talk was perceived in Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Officials have been reacting extremely positively to the first face-to-face meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin. One senior Russian lawmaker said the --


CHANCE: -- results of the two-hour, 16-minute talk on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg surpassed expectations and were, quote, "a breakthrough."

I can tell you the breakthroughs for the meeting had been extremely low here in Russia with commentators on state controlled media characterizing it as merely an opportunity for the leaders to exchange pleasantries.

In the event it was much more than that, Trump and Putin covering a range of difficult issues at the heart of the fractious relationship between the United States and Russia: Syria and Ukraine, North Korea, sanctions, even cyber security.

On that issue, the U.S. secretary of state, who also attended the meeting with his Russian counterpart, said there was a robust exchange on allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minster, said Trump accepted statements from Putin that Russia was not involved, something the U.S. doesn't agree with.

There was agreement, though, on Syria, with the U.S. and Russia jointly supporting a cease-fire in the south of the country, a first step towards greater U.S.-Russian cooperation in the region.

Of course, U.S. presidents have bonded with Vladimir Putin before.

Who can forget how George W. Bush peered into the eyes of Putin and got a sense of his soul?

U.S. officials say there was personal chemistry between Trump and Putin, too, but it's still far from certain that that will be enough to bridge the very deep divide between their two countries -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


VANIER: David Satter is with us now, a Russia scholar at the Hudson Institute. He's in Washington.

First, David, your take on the different accounts of what was said between the Russians and the Americans.

Is it to be expected?

Is that normal?

Or do you see it as a significant diplomatic jab from the Russians towards Mr. Trump?

DAVID SATTER, HUDSON INSTITUTE: I was aware of what happened early on because I was called from Moscow by Russian journalists, who asked me what was going on because the Russian media, the state-controlled media, was broadcasting to everyone in Russia that Trump had accepted Putin's explanation.

In fact, the Russian authorities have no compunction about making things like this up. And I'm sure that this is made up.


VANIER: So what was the goal?

Was it to be able to broadcast that to their domestic audience?

SATTER: That's part of the reason. But the other thing is to create problems for Trump inside the U.S. because Trump was obviously very reluctant to make this an issue. And they interpreted, which they had no right to do, his statement that, well, let's move on and go to other aspects of the relationship as saying that he accepts Putin's responsibility.

This is the way Russians like to interpret things -- or if you want to be less generous, the way they like to twist things. And the point was, of course, to further exacerbate the problems that exist in the U.S. and the conflict within the U.S. And the Russians have been doing that from the start.

VANIER: And the Americans don't seem and the White House doesn't seem to hold a grudge. When you hear Rex Tillerson's account of the meeting, the message, as you just said, was very much let's move on from this.

SATTER: Absolutely. And right now it's -- if Trump and if the administration is serious about dealing with this issue, they have to say and say unequivocally that Lavrov is lying, which, of course, he is.

VANIER: Were you surprised by the extent to which the White House was willing to just let bygones be bygones?

SATTER: No, I think it's typical of the way in which not just this presidency but many. We have a long history, especially when it comes to summit meetings, of overlooking Russian fabrications and crimes -- and all supposedly in the interest of good relations.

It's -- Trump is not alone in this. What distinguishes the situation this time is that, of course, he personally is involved because it's been argued that he benefited from the Russian interference in our election.

VANIER: Tell me about the so-called chemistry, what was described by Rex Tillerson as the chemistry between the two men. The quote is the two leaders connected very quickly, there was clear, positive chemistry between the two.

Has there, in recent memory, ever been that kind of description of the relationship between an American and a Russian president?

SATTER: That's what happens every time. The only time that didn't happen was in the case of Ronald Reagan.

And these summit meetings are intended by the Russians to get exactly that statement.


SATTER: They are choreographed in advance to lure the American president, whoever it may be, to make exactly that kind of remark.

VANIER: David, one more thing I want to get in there really quickly, otherwise we won't have time. Listen to this, please.

SATTER: Yes, sure.


TILLERSON: We each have a view but there is a lot more commonality to that than there are differences. So we want to build on the commonality. And we spent a lot of time talking about next steps.

And then where there's differences, we have more work to get together and understand. Maybe they have got the right approach and we have got the wrong approach.


VANIER: So that was the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, talking about the relationship between the U.S. and Russia and at first it sounded like sort of normal diplomatic-speak.

What really caught my attention were the last few words.

Maybe the Russians have got the right approach. Maybe we've got the right approach or maybe we are wrong. I don't believe I have heard this administration suggest that perhaps it was wrong.

Did it surprise you that they were willing to admit perhaps Russians are doing something better than the Americans?

SATTER: Well, once --


VANIER: And this was in relation to Syria specifically, I should say.

SATTER: -- well, once again, this is a typical American tendency. This is not just Trump but of course in this case it's particularly outrageous in light of what has been going on in Syria and Ukraine.

We should remember that there are more than 10,000 people have been killed in Ukraine in a war which has no justification whatsoever, invented on a false pretext and intended to strengthen Putin's hold on power inside Russia.

There is no other reason for it. So to make remarks like that, Tillerson only shows the extent to which he doesn't understand the subject that he is dealing with and the country that he is dealing with.

VANIER: And David Satter, thank you very much for coming on the show. Pleasure speaking with you.

SATTER: I'm happy to be here again.

VANIER: We are learning that, in a matter of days, the U.S. will test its ballistic missile defense system, the THAAD program, as it's called. It is designed to shoot down a range of intermediate ballistic missiles.

It is based in Alaska, although parts of the system have been deployed to South Korea. And that's been making the news recently. And even though we are just a few days removed from the North Korean test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, a U.S. official insists that this drill is not related to that launch.

Here's another demonstration of American military power, this one appears to be related to North Korea, however. On Friday, two U.S. bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula along with South Korean fighter jets. The United States Air Force says North Korea's recent actions are a threat. South Korea is also willing to step up its own military drills. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more on all this activity.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: South Korea flexing its own military muscle, conducting a naval live-fire military drill to show the world and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un its own military might. For its part, North Korea is still celebrating the launch from the 4th of July.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The great success of the intercontinental ballistic missile launch is a demonstration of our mighty power.

STARR (voice-over): U.S. intelligence is urgently assessing what it knows about the North Korean ICBM test and how soon it will be able to strike U.S. soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are still analyzing the latest test at this time.

STARR (voice-over): A key question: did the missile reenter the Earth's atmosphere intact?

That would be a necessary step for a North Korean ICBM to hit a target. Then there's the issue of placing a nuclear warhead on top of the missile.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R): They are trying to miniaturize this warhead to put it on top of this ICBM delivery system. So I think it's a very serious threat.

STARR (voice-over): A threat that, for now, the U.S. is confronting peacefully.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This is a diplomatically led international effort to stop a worldwide threat that they are bringing to bear.

STARR (voice-over): But what does that look like?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the Trump administration's goal is to roll back North Korea's nuclear and missile program.

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Stopping where they are today is not acceptable to us.

STARR: And a key diplomatic question: would it help to sit down and talk to Kim Jong-un directly?

A fascinating question to which nobody knows the answer -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


VANIER: I spoke to CNN global affairs analyst, Aaron David Miller, earlier and I asked him what to expect from Mr. Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled for Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Other than Mr. Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin, this is probably the most important bilateral that the president will have. And North Korea will be the focus.

And I'm concerned that --


MILLER: -- North Korea will color and taint the way the Americans perceive it and the way the Chinese perceive it. They are really quite far apart.

I don't think there is anything at this single meeting that President Trump could do to somehow push President Xi to somehow adopt a more aggressive stance.

And I don't think the Chinese, focused as they are on other issues and worried about instability on the Korean Peninsula and the collapse of the regime or South Korean unification, is going to oblige them.


VANIER: We will have the rest of the interview later tonight at 2:00 am Eastern time. So stay with us for that.

It's one of the largest icebergs ever reported and it could soon break free from Antarctica. Coming up after the break, we'll see why that's a threat.

But up next, a CNN exclusive.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: We are now inside the old city walls of Raqqa, the capital of ISIS' self-declared caliphate in a territory in which they will make their final stand in Syria and really the Middle East.

VANIER (voice-over): CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is at the epicenter of the fight against ISIS in Syria. Stay with us.





VANIER: Welcome back.

At Friday's meeting between U.S. president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin, there was some movement on Syria's civil war. The two leaders agreed on a plan for a cease-fire in parts of the country, establishing a so-called deescalation zone in the southwest.

According to that deal, the U.S. and Russia will ensure compliance. They will provide humanitarian access and ensure security within that zone. The cease-fire is set to take effect at noon local time on Sunday.

And let's take you now to the heart of the battle against ISIS in Syria. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Raqqa, the city that ISIS used as its capital. Days ago, Syrian democratic forces punched through the wall encircling Raqqa and Nick became the first Western journalist to get exclusive access.


WALSH: We are now inside the old city walls of Raqqa, the capital of ISIS' self-declared caliphate in the territory, from which they will make their final stand in Syria and really the Middle East.

That wall, a key milestone for coalition forces and the Syrian Kurds and Arabs who now control fully 200 or 300 meters inside of the old city. Down that way, 200 meters, are ISIS' positions.

The forces here don't move around much in the daylight because of the risk of ISIS snipers, less so in these streets. But it's at night where the majority of the movement forward is made.

We've seen U.S. forces here, not far from these positions. Anxious not to be filmed or even noticed, frankly. But you understand it's them calling in the airstrikes and the artillery --


WALSH: -- that's allowing these forces to move forth, frankly, so quickly.

I've been surprised how little of the city ISIS are, apparently, in right now, an area possibly one and a half to three miles in terms of size. So increasingly small terrain that they hold.

But as we saw in Mosul in Iraq, civilians, apparently, held in their midst, unable to flee because of the ISIS snipers. A real impediment for these Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters. But still the progress here marking, potentially, the last time that ISIS can say they hold a city in Syria.


VANIER: The London hospital caring for Charlie Gard has asked for a new hearing to consider claims of new evidence about a possible treatment for his rare condition.

A European court had ordered discontinuation of life support for the desperately ill infant in a case that has caught the attention of world leaders, including the pope. His parents have been fighting to allow Charlie to undergo experimental treatment.


CONNIE YATES, CHARLIE'S MOTHER: What I want is 2-3 months. We will know in that time whether this is going to work or not. This has been going on for months and months and months. And this whole time, my little boy is just lying there.

Yes, I don't feel he's in pain. And that's the only reason I'm able to carry on.


VANIER: The hospital says it still believes that experimental treatment is unjustified but that it is right to consider the fresh evidence.

All right. The news continues right after this. Stay with CNN.




VANIER: Hey, there.

A giant iceberg is about to break free from the east coast of Antarctica. And honestly, you're not going to believe just how big this thing is. Derek Van Dam is with us for that.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it sounds like you are teeing me up for a one-liner joke.

How big is it?

Well, it's half the size of Qatar, believe it or not. And we have a couple of other comparisons but let's take you there. This is the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica. The cracking was starting about a decade ago. So this has been a slow process but we are desperately close to this thing breaking off now.

Early June the ice shelf was 13 kilometers from the edge, now just five kilometers of ice holds this gargantuan ice shelf together. This is all according to the European space agency.

VANIER: That still sounds like a lot.

VAN DAM: It sounds like a lot but wait until you see how large this thing is and how this could impact the shipping industry down there. We will take you to the bottom part of the world. This is Antarctica.

The part that we are talking about is this ice shelf that is just south of South America, the Falkland Islands. You can see this long kind of stretching arm outside of the east coast of Antarctica. And this is actually an image taken from space. This is a NASA satellite image of the crack that is now starting to form. So let's put it into perspective. It's about half the size of Qatar.

That's 6,000 square kilometers, that is four times the size of London and 2,300 square miles, that's seven times the size of New York City.

If this thing breaks off, when, again, it hasn't yet. We have another five kilometers to go. But if it does, it will be the third largest iceberg every recorded. And if you were to melt that iceberg, the volume of that water could potentially fill Lake Michigan in the United States.

This thing is massive. Check this image out. You can see one of the large aircrafts --


VAN DAM: -- that have flown over this crack and you can see how long and expansive it actually is. And that was a year ago. So the problem is if this thing breaks off, this is a large shipping area, that could definitely impact that region.

This is what scientists have started to notice. It was about a decade ago. We started to see the cracking on the ice shelf. Back in November 2010, you can see where it was located, then it quickly progressed. And it's just within the past 30 days or so when this thing got dangerously close to the edge of the Larsen B ice shelf.

We actually have a time lapse image where you can see the separation of this iceberg that is starting to calve and starting to separate. It really is only a few days if not months before it finally breaks apart.

This is an interesting image from NASA, from the AFP but it's a NASA image. It is a Larsen ice shelf hanging by a thread. We only have moments to go before this thing breaks off. If it does, again, it could potentially impact our shipping industry but more or less it's just a really neat story to talk about.


VANIER: And you will be back in the studio talking about it.

VAN DAM: Absolutely with all my weather friends, of course.

VANIER: You remember that, your weather friends?

It's OK. I didn't mean any harm.

Stay with us. You will like this one. You often regale us with your stories of space exploration. So maybe the U.S. vice president Mike Pence was actually listening to Derek.

He was speaking to the new NASA astronaut class at Cape Canaveral, Florida. And he reaffirmed the Trump administration's commitment to space exploration, promising to go back to the moon and even put boots on Mars.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And here from this bridge to space, our nation will return to the moon and we will put American boots on the face of Mars.


VANIER: And that's it from us. Do stay tuned to CNN NEWSROOM. We are back after the break with a quick look at the headlines.