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CNN'S AMANPOUR

Mexico's PM on Earthquakes in Mexico; Deadly Earthquake Strikes Central Mexico; First International TV Interview with Pakistani PM; Australian PM on Climate Changes and Big Challenges; Citizens Race to the Help in Mexico City

Aired September 20, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight from the United Nations in New York, Mexico's foreign minister joins me live as rescuers raise to

save people trapped by the huge earthquake there, among them school children.

As America threatens to dump its ally Pakistan, the new prime minister is here for his first international television interview.

Hurricane Maria pummels Puerto Rico, this climate change, North Korea and all the other big global challenges, that with my guest the Australian

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour outside the United Nation's General Assembly here in New York.

As the world leaders gather in the halls behind me, a terrible tragedy is unfolding in Mexico. At least 225 people are dead and many more are

missing after a powerful deadly earthquake struck the capital city and surrounding regions.

It is the second major quake to hit Mexico in almost two weeks. Homes and schools have been flattened, and a frantic rescue operation is under way to

find survivors.

Now you're looking at live pictures from an elementary school where emergency teams are trying to rescue a young girl from the rubble.

All this as another devastating Hurricane Maria barrels through the Caribbean. It is currently making landfall in Puerto Rico.

But, first, Luis Videgaray is Mexico's foreign minister and he joins me right now, live.

Welcome.

LUIS VIDEGARAY, MEXICO'S FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: And really you have the world's condolences on this terrible tragedy, but hopefully an opportunity to tell the world what you need and

what exactly is happening in your country.

VIDEGARAY: Thank you very much, Christiane.

As you said, this is the second earthquake that hits Mexico in a period of just 12 days. We are still recovering from the earthquake that happened

south of Mexico. The states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. And now we're hit again.

By the way, the same exact thing that 32 years ago, a big earthquake happened in Mexico City killing thousands of people. As you said 225

people confirmed dead already. And our priority, our single, most important priority right now is the rescue operations.

AMANPOUR: As you speak, we are continuing to show these live pictures from where rescuers are trying to get a little girl they believe is still alive.

They believe they're quite close to rescuing her, and they've been calling for silence from the crowd so they can hear.

But this destruction of a school where 22 bodies were found and dozens of kids are still missing must be awful.

VIDEGARAY: It's definitely a big hit, a very difficult time for Mexico. We as Mexicans are a strong nation and we will recover. But this is a

moment of grief, a very difficult time. But it's still a time of hope.

When you see thousands and thousands of people, mostly young people that are suddenly turning into rescue -- rescue crews with full of energy. And

also a time where we are receiving tremendous international solidarity and support, by the way, with strong advice from the United Nations and our

partners around the world.

AMANPOUR: And I understand, the United States, at least the state of California has sent a fire brigade, a special rescue brigade from L.A.

VIDEGARAY: The United States has the specialized teams, the equipment that is particularly helpful for the rescue operations. The U.S. government is

already providing help.

President Trump called President Pena Nieto a few hours ago. They talked. And these specialized, this highly, highly technical teams are coming to

Mexico. We need here a very specific help. These are large blocks to move concrete blocks that need to be separated so technology matters. The

expertise matters. But most important, the timing matters.

So we're getting help. Countries like the U.S., Israel, Japan but also countries from Latin America.

The first crew to arrive to Mexico City today came from El Salvador. And they are already on the ground. A team from Panama is following closely.

A team from Colombia, experts from Chile.

So this is time also, this is a time of deep pain, deep grief but also a time of hope as the international community is embracing Mexico.

You can imagine that there are always some sort of dark clouds in these instances. We've heard already some complaints on the ground that the

civilian and military rescue operations are sort of not really working as closely and as quickly as they could have done.

Were there some difficulties at the beginning trying to coordinate all the teams?

[14:05:00] VIDEGARAY: When we have this, a lot of people are trying to work on the same site. These are 50 sites, where recovery effort, the

rescue operations are happening. And there might be in the beginning some coordination issues.

But what is important, that we have the people and that we get the right equipment and the expertise.

Some rescue operations are easier than others. Others have wide complaints and the timing is of essence because there might be lives to save and we

need to get there very quickly.

AMANPOUR: Can I just make a sharp turn. I'm sorry to have to do this, but Mexico is obviously the center of a pretty big brawl with the United

States, with President Trump. You're all here.

The wall is still something that President Trump talks about building. And we also understand that potentially NAFTA renegotiation may be in some

trouble.

Give us sort of a broad picture of where your government stands on these two issues.

VIDEGARAY: The United States is an extremely important country for Mexico. Mexico is an important country for the U.S. We have some public

differences with President Trump. Those are very clear, but we're also working together on many issues including trade.

Our trade agreement is relatively old. 25 years since it was negotiated initially. So it's still very active and we're working for that. It's a

professional process. It's a serious process and it's an ongoing process.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Do you see areas where you can renegotiate?

VIDEGARAY: Absolutely. There are many updates that are needed. I'll tell you a couple.

Environmental protection, labor rights protection, intellectual property, including energy. E-commerce. E-commerce didn't even exist when NAFTA was

crafted.

So there are -- yes, of course, there are many issues where we can make the treaty better and we're working in good faith.

Obviously, this is a process and it will take time and effort. And there may be sometimes a stress. It can be also a colorful process at times.

AMANPOUR: Colorful indeed.

VIDEGARAY: But we are -- we're taking this very seriously. Most importantly very constructive.

AMANPOUR: President Trump apparently has sent through various Facebook, sort of targeted memes, more ads about building the wall.

And you've seen -- you know, sometimes he's saying no, sometimes he's saying yes. Where do you think he stand -- what has he said to you?

VIDEGARAY: We don't talk about the wall. The wall is not a bilateral issue and it's not part of our conversations.

AMANPOUR: (INAUDIBLE) on that.

VIDEGARAY: Right now, I should tell you right now, on a day like this, things are put in perspective. What matters is that the U.S. and the

countries of Latin America and throughout the world today are proving that they're good friends with Mexico and this is what really matters. And

things like what happened yesterday in Mexico City put things in perspective.

AMANPOUR: It does, indeed.

I just want to ask on behalf of all the world's journalist including Mexican journalists, obviously they are covering. We're all -- we are the

ones who bring the truth to the world and there's been quite a lot of murders of Mexican journalist.

Yesterday, the French president talked about there must be security and safety for journalists to do their jobs.

What is Mexico, the government going to do to make sure that this impunity by which those who murder journalists in your country is stopped?

That there are real investigations? It's not just apparently the drug lords, who are killing, maybe even some areas of the state security

operators who don't like what journalists are doing.

VIDEGARAY: First of all, it's something that's unacceptable for this to happen in a democracy, when journalists are being attacked and then killed.

Not only journalists. It happens to human rights activists, which are unfortunately we've had those episodes happening.

We're working hard to protect journalists that need protection and ask for protection. That's the first step. Some of them accept the protection.

Some others don't. It's for them to decide.

We are a free country. But the most important thing is to address the underlying causes of the problem. A lot of that as you say is related to

the drug trade, which is also related to our proximity to the U.S., which is the biggest market for drugs. And the other is just the need to

strengthen our institution.

We've made strides in upgrading our laws, but we still have a long way to making progress.

AMANPOUR: And, again, thank you for being here with us answering all these questions as we continue to watch the live pictures of this rescue that is

underway. And we wish your country well.

VIDEGARAY: Thank you very much. And again through you and CNN, Christiane, let me thank the people of the world that today are showing

tremendous solidarity and friendship to the people of Mexico.

AMANPOUR: Humanity.

Foreign Minister Videgaray, thank you very much indeed.

VIDEGARAY: Thank you very much, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

And now we make another sharp turn to Pakistan whose new prime minister is set to speak here tomorrow. Despite a complicated relationship, the United

States considers Pakistan an ally, but President Trump is threatening to change that.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met face-to-face with Vice President Pence yesterday and he sat down with me just moments ago for his first international TV

interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Abbasi, welcome to the program.

SHAHID KHAQAN ABBASI, PAKISTAN'S PRIME MINISTER: Thank you for having me. Pleasure to be here.

AMANPOUR: You are here in the United States at a pretty bad point in Pakistan-American relations it seems to me. The president of the United

States himself has accused Pakistan of, quote, housing the very terrorists that we are trying to fight.

What is your response to that?

ABBASI: Well, the relationship has its ups and downs.

AMANPOUR: What's now?

[14:10:00] ABBASI: Well, how you look at it.

AMANPOUR: How do you look at it?

ABBASI: Well, we believe this relationship is not defined only by Pakistan. It's a 70-year-old relationship. We've always been ally,

especially partner in the war against terror. And that's how we look at it.

We may have differences of opinion, especially on the modalities of how we operate. But, you know, we want to work with the U.S. to counter this

terrorism.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's drill down on that's precisely what the U.S. says that you're not doing enough. You say one thing, but perhaps you don't

believe it.

I don't mean you personally, I'm saying the system. That for instance one of your former ambassadors here has said this is the first time in your

long alliance that the U.S. president has ever gone on television and made such a statement indicating that they are at the end of their rope.

ABBASI: Well, we don't look at it that way.

I think like I said there are differences of opinion, on how to operate in that region. We have fought a war against terrorism. We have suffered

huge casualties. Even today 200,000 soldiers are fighting the war against terror.

AMANPOUR: So the question people have is whether the Pakistani system, not just the government but the military intelligence et cetera believes that

this terror is the existential threat you face or whether you are stuck in the paradigm believing that India is the existential threat?

ABBASI: Well, terror is a threat to everybody. For us India was the force that we have fought three wars with. India is a threat to Pakistan. We

accept that. They are the nuclear power. We have to be able to defend ourselves several times against India.

AMANPOUR: And you have nuclear weapons as well.

ABBASI: We develop nuclear weapons against the threat that India posed.

AMANPOUR: The United States is right now undergoing a policy shift towards your region. We don't know the exact endpoint where they'll reach, but

they are considering dropping Pakistan as an ally in this regard.

Already the administration has suspended several hundred million dollars worth of military aid and there could be more of this cut-off coming.

Do you at least acknowledge that there is a problem that they believe that you are housings as I said the very terrorist they are fighting, and even

one of your previous ambassadors said that when he asked the government to be honest with the U.S. about this issue, the government admitted that it

does house and support Afghan militants, those fighting in Afghanistan, inciting the India threat?

ABBASI: Well, like I said there's difference of opinion. We are a partner in the war against terror.

AMANPOUR: I see. I'm not going to get anything out of you on this. So let me ask you,, what are you going to do in response to the United States'

potential actions? Dropping you as an ally, continuing to cut off military and potentially other civilian aid to your country?

ABBASI: Well, we have met Vice President Pence yesterday. And we have explained our -- the role in this to him just like I'm explaining it to

you.

AMANPOUR: What will your response be if there is a, you know, a significant shift by the United States?

ABBASI: We don't expect a significant shift. We are willing to work with the U.S. to fight the war against terror. The enemy is the same.

AMANPOUR: OK. Let me move on to another issue, which is very much in the news right now. And that of course is the nukes. It's the worry about

North Korea. It's the worry about even the U.S. pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

I mean, obviously throughout this period of the North Korean build up, we even know that the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb has said that, you

know, expertise and the like went to North Korea.

What is your concern right now? It's your region that's in the crosshairs. What can be done to rein in North Korea, do you think?

ABBASI: I think North Korea needs to submit to the international regulatory authorities. And it needs to be a responsible citizen. We have

not contributed anything to North Korea's program. That were very clear. And we -- we stress on North Korea to behave responsibly as the world

community wants. And we have also condemned the recent tests, nuclear missile tests.

AMANPOUR: Are you -- are you concerned? Are you concerned by the activities coming out of Pyongyang and where do you think it might lead?

ABBASI: Definitely it's a cause of concern.

AMANPOUR: You've just come in as prime minister, new prime minister in Pakistan. This is your first I think meetings and first encounters with

President Trump.

You know a lot of world leaders are trying to figure out how best to navigate that relationship and what to take from President Trump and his

tweets and his statements and his comments.

Does that confuse you sometimes? Do you find it easy to figure out what's coming out of the White House?

[14:15:00] ABBASI: Well, it's a different way that the policies are articulated. I must say they are. And we're trying to work with President

Trump.

We listen to his view points. We listened to his speech yesterday. We listened to his policy statement. And I think as Pakistan, we need to work

with the U.S. on issues that relate to the world especially terror.

AMANPOUR: And just when you get away from all the stress and the trial and tribulations of governing, I understand you're a keen skydiver.

ABBASI: I am a pilot. Mostly been a pilot for 14-plus years. Skydiving is also been a passion, but I think I'm too old for that now.

AMANPOUR: So you won't be doing that on weekends?

ABBASI: Not anymore, I think.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Abbasi, thank you very much indeed.

(CROSSTALK)

ABBASI: Thank you very much. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And when we come back, diplomats here are trying to figure out what Donald Trump's declarations mean for them. The Australian Foreign

Minister Julie Bishop joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program from outside the United Nations in New York.

And you are now watching live pictures from an elementary school in Mexico, where emergency teams are very close to rescuing a young girl from the

rubble after yesterday's devastating earthquake. The little girl's family is already on site and awaiting her rescue.

And you heard us talk just earlier with the Mexican foreign minister talking about, thanking the world for their help, needing all sorts of

technical equipment and saying that time is of the essence in this rescue effort.

Now, though, the threat from North Korea is at the top of world's agenda at this year's general assembly. And Australia's Foreign Minister Julie

Bishop says now is the time for, quote, "maximum pressure" on Kim Jong-un's regime.

She met with President Trump yesterday after his speech here, where he threatened to, quote, "totally destroy" North Korea if the U.S. or its

allies were forced to defend themselves.

And Julie Bishop joins me now.

Foreign minister, welcome to the program.

JULIE BISHOP, AUSTRALIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: I just saw you talk to the Mexican foreign minister. There's a lot that the world is trying to do to help Mexico right now.

BISHOP: I took the opportunity to extend our deepest condolences to the Mexican foreign minister and I also offered him whatever support we could

provide should they need it.

Australia stands ready to support Mexico at this terrible time and we heard that people can be rescued although sadly many have died.

AMANPOUR: It's really a tragic thing and it's happening right as the world leaders are gathering to try to solve the world's problems.

You obviously have been in the sessions. You heard President Trump yesterday. And you've met with members of the administration.

First and foremost, what did you make of President Trump's very florid, very -- some call aggressive language towards North Korea?

BISHOP: I believe that the president is seeking to focus the world's attention on the fact that North Korea is in violent defiance of numerous

U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban its missile testing. That bans its nuclear weapons program.

What North Korea is doing is illegal. It presents a threat not only to our region, but it is a global security risk. And the president was very much

highlighting the North Korean regime's provocative and threatening behavior, and the need, the desperate need for all countries around the

world to be part of a collective strategy to enforce North Korea to change its behavior.

AMANPOUR: You in your region have had to deal with this North Korean threat for a long, long time. Obviously South Korea, Japan are closer.

But nonetheless it's a real threat to the region.

President Putin of Russia said, you know, trying to put more sanctions on means nothing. He quote said, "You know, there are ready to eat grass in

Pyongyang rather than give up their nuclear ambitions."

Given that, what is the real, practical way to deter them from ever using - I mean, they've got them. You can't un-get them. They have the weapons.

BISHOP: Up until now, these sanctions have been against individuals and entities. But for the first time, the U.N. Security Council has

unanimously, and that's important, unanimously enforced a sanctions regime that is the toughest and most comprehensive yet across whole sectors of the

North Korean economy.

And these sanctions must be given time to work. I don't accept that these sanctions have failed because this is the toughest, most comprehensive

package we've seen so far. And it will take some time for them to have an impact.

It is a collective strategy. And I believe that we must exert far more political diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to compel it back

to the negotiating table.

We've seen this happen before. Of course, North Korea has much greater capability than in the past and it's demonstrating that on a far more

frequent basis.

But, nevertheless, the alternatives would be catastrophic. We must try every political, diplomatic and economic avenue we can.

AMANPOUR: Can I shift to the climate, obviously. I mean, here we are talking not just about a natural disaster, which is the hurricane, but --

sorry, the earthquake, but the hurricanes that are coming and all the global science says that the warming atmospheres, the warming seas are

exacerbating this.

You know that President Trump is pulling the United States out of the U.N. climate accord.

For your region and for Australia, what does this mean?

BISHOP: We are disappointed that the United States administrations is withdrawing from the Paris agreement. We've made that clear on numerous

occasions, not only to the administration, but also here at the United Nations.

And we hope that the United States will continue to ensure that it reduces its emissions. The president has said they are on track to reduce

emissions, that they are through new technologies able to come up with cleaner forms of energy. And that's what all nations are seeking, too.

The Paris agreement represented a global resolve to reduce emissions and to address the impact of climate change. For our region, it's particularly

important because it is a natural disaster zone in the Pacific, particularly with cyclones, hurricanes and earthquakes.

So we are very focused on ensuring that we can be more resilient against the impacts of climate change. Australia, of course, is the custodian of

the Great Barrier Reef, one of the -- in fact, the largest coral structure on the planet.

AMANPOUR: Which is dying as we speak.

BISHOP: And it has been affected by recent bleaching event and other heritage listed -- world heritage listed reefs are being affected. So we

must all work together. And, of course, it's only a global solution. Climate change doesn't respect borders. All countries must bear part.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Which is a direct comment on President Trump sort of sovereignty and nation nationalist policy. I mean, these are global

problems.

BISHOP: Problems that do not respect borders. And so we have to work together as we have been doing this week in finding new ways to engage more

closely as we address some of the global challenges we face.

AMANPOUR: Good luck.

BISHOP: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, thanks so much for joining us.

And when we come back, imagining Mexico again at its best.

Ordinary citizens running into the streets to help dig through the rubble. Just before we go to break, I want to show you a deafening silence from the

scene earlier as workers called for quiet with a raised fist so they can hear any cries for help.

And as you know, they are trying to get one little girl out of the rubble as we speak.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:25:00] AMANPOUR: Finally tonight, imagine a handful of people deciding the fate of our planet. They are in the building just behind me. And the

world needs them to face down nuclear threats, climate change and humanitarian crises.

Tonight, we leave you with images of some of the people who need them the most right now. And those are the residents of Mexico city and other areas

where countless ordinary citizens have taken to the streets to help after yesterday's devastating earthquake.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END