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Trump Headed to Davos Amid Talk of Trade War; Trump on Immigration Deal; Capetown, South Africa Faces Severe Water Shortage; Saudi Oil Giant Aramco Looking to Expand in U.S.; Myanmar Opens Holding Camps for Rohingya Returnees. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired January 25, 2018 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:11] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --

Donald Trump on his way to Davos, preparing for a possible trade war as Europe's leaders defend globalization.

President Trump talks incentive even a pathway to citizenship for so- called Dreamers in America.

And Rohingya resignation -- an international adviser quits calling the panel the Myanmar a whitewash and cheer-leading operation for Aung San Suu Kyi.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

U.S. President Donald Trump is on his way to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He left Washington just a few hours ago, flying directly into the crossfire of a possible trade war with other countries.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the battle is already underway and quote, "U.S. troops are now coming to the rampart." Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claims the weakening the dollar is boosting America's firepower.

The head of the World Trade Organization told CNN's Richard Quest the world is coming to terms with the Trump administration's

America First rhetoric.


ROBERTO AZEVEDO, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION: I think we have to understand that the message is firm. Clearly there is a firm message.

We don't like it. We are unhappy with the situation. We want to do something about it. Others are measuring up how to handle that.


SESAY: Well, let's bring in CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson. He's there in Davos, Switzerland.

Nic -- good to see you.

President Trump has been clear in his disdain for multilateralism and has championed his America First policy. He's heading there to Davos, a bastion of globalization and cooperation.

What kind of reception is he likely to receive?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, on the very issue of the tariffs that President Trump has put on, a couple of Chinese groups say solar panels and the washing machines, for example, very small in relative terms as a source of tariffs people were concerned about early in his presidency. But it has raised that concern that there could be the potential of a trade war.

The Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma spoke about it and said this is something that we don't want, that we don't think is helpful, that concerns us. But the very broad message as President Trump comes in here, we heard it from the -- on the first day from Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister; from Erna Solberg, the Norwegian prime minister; from Jacques (SIC) Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister.

There's been a resounding message that echoes or amplifies what we heard from the WTO chief there. That President Trump is out of kilter with the rest of the world and they don't like it. And that that is the message that has been giving -- the America First policy.

However the White House tries to frame it as America First in the world next. The sense here is that it is America First and the isolationism as the Indian Prime Minister said is not the way to move ahead and to try to deal with the outfall (ph) of globalization, the sort of reactionary votes (ph) that people see across the world.

So President Trump really is walking into this environment as being very much set for him with the message from the rest of the world. Whether he listens, the WTO chief feels that perhaps President Trump is just going to come in with his own message which is really what he hear and not pay so much attention to all the voices here in Davos.

SESAY: Yes. I think that is definitely a widespread expectation. European leaders at Davos are already staking out their positions ahead of President Trump's arrival as you were making clear and his anticipated America First message.

One leader after another, as Nic was just detailing have pushed back on this notion of isolationism in the modern world. German chancellor Angela Merkel warned of the rise of right-wing populism, calling it poison. She said trade and climate change are just two issues that can only be dealt with through international cooperation.

The globalization theme was also advanced by French President Emmanuel Macron. He argued that a strong Europe is crucial for France's future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: My first message is that France is back. France is back as the core of Europe because we'll never have any French success without a European success.


SESAY: So Nic, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron both talking tough on Europe, really trying to pose a counterbalance if you will to Trump's America First isolationist policy as they're widely received.

[00:04:55] I guess the question is can Europe fill the vacuum created by America's retreat? I mean lots of talk about France being back, a strong Europe. But you know, when you have an Angela Merkel in such a tentative political situation, how strong is a European project.

ROBERTSON: Well, Paolo Gentiloni, the Italian prime minister also spoke to the subject. And he said, look, you know, it was almost in a perfect storm recently in Europe with the, you know, with the sort of rise of populism, if you will with the Brexit vote and other issues that are besetting the European Union.

But he said any one who thinks that the European Union isn't strong has betted against us incorrectly. So there is, from Europe's main players, and nobody underestimates the fact that the sort of parts of eastern Europe have a different antithetical views indeed to countries like Germany when it comes to dealing with immigration, i.e., big issues that potentially pull Europe -- the European Union apart.

The message that's coming clear from, you know, from Paolo Gentiloni, from Emmanuel Macron, from Angela Merkel is very strong. And that is that Europe is clear about what it wants to do. And I think this goes back to that emergency E.U. summit that E.U. leaders Angela Merkel and at that time French president, Francois Hollande called and had in Malta early last year.

And at that point both Merkel and Hollande said Europe needs to be strong and clear. Europe needs to send its message about where it's going. We can no longer rely on the United States.

So I think what we're seeing is now an amplified version of that. Europe has had a year to assess where President Trump is going. You know, Paolo Gentiloni, the Italian prime minister, embarrassed to some degree that it was on his turf that the G7 in Sicily that President Trump really began to sort of indicate how much he was sort of pulling out of the world order by indicating he'll pull out of the global climate change agreement.

Again not something -- you know, a slap in the face if you will for President Macron. It's something he commented on here and got quite loud support for as well.

So that's the European message here -- Isha, that they had time to think about this and they recognize that they need to work beyond this particular presidency of President Trump and (INAUDIBLE) we've heard from some of the leaders here -- a ten-year plan for the European Union to take that place of the United States on the world table and fill that vacuum.

SESAY: From Europe to Central Africa like Zimbabwe's new leader telling Davos and the world his country is open for business. Emmerson Mnangagwa is pitching for international investments to help modernize the country's infrastructure. He has pledged to root out corruption and tells CNN's Richard Quest his goal is to make Zimbabwe attractive to outside investors.


EMMERSON MNANGAGWA, PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: The ideal position for us is to say why are the economies in our region progressing? Why are the economies growing? Why do we not help find direct investment coming into Zimbabwe?

So we have to identify those issues. Also we must have dialogue with people like you, with people who want to come into Zimbabwe. Have dialog and say what do you see which constrains you to come into our environment.

And when did you (INAUDIBLE), then with just the legislation and laws to make sure that it's (INAUDIBLE).


SESAY: And Nic -- it's a critical matter for Zimbabwe's new leader to get out there in Davos. But my question is this, do we see the reforms being put in place there on the ground in Zimbabwe to support his declaration or his promise that things are different there in his country and that effectively it's a new day for business?

I think we have some technical issues. Nic Robertson -- can you hear me?

Ok. It seems we've lost our connection with Nic there -- apologies for that. We're going to get him back a little later on in the show to talk a little bit more about what's happening there in Davos. So stay with us for that.

And stay with us because CNN is covering Davos from every single angle. In the coming hours, some of our high profile guests include Filippo Grandi the U.N.'s high commissioner for refugees; Henrietta Fore the executive director of UNICEF; Philip Hammond the chancellor of Exchequer in the U.K.; and Chrystia Freeland, the minister of foreign affairs of Canada.

A lot more to come. Stay with CNN for continued coverage of Davos.

Now, President Trump may have left Washington but he's not escaping his troubles in the Russia probe. Mr. Trump says he's looking forward to talking with special Robert Mueller. Investigators have provided the President's lawyers with a range of topics and made it clear they want a sit-down interview.

CNN's Pamela Brown reports.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump held an impromptu meeting here at the White House where he discussed a range of topics from immigration to how he feels about his chief of staff John Kelly to sitting down with Robert Mueller.

He made clear to reporters in the room that he would quote, love to talk to Robert Mueller, that he would love to sit down and have a face-to-face interview with him and he also said that he would do so under oath.

[00:10:04] Here's more of what he said.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking forward to it actually.



TRUMP: Just like I said. There's been no collusion whatsoever. There's no obstruction whatsoever. And I'm looking forward to it.

I do worry when I look at all of the things that you people don't report about with what's happening if you take a look at, you know, the five-month's worth of missing texts. That's a lot of missing texts. And as I said yesterday, that's primetime.

So you just have to look at that and say what's going on. You do look at certain texts when they talk about insurance policies or insurance where they say the kinds of things they're saying. It's a big concern.

But I would love to do that. I'd like to do it as soon as possible.



TRUMP: So here's the story.


TRUMP: I don't know. I think talking about two or three weeks but I would love to do it. You know, again, I have to say something to my lawyers and all of that. But I would love to do it.

BROWN: Now while the President said he will be ok with sitting down with Robert Mueller, he also said that he would have to consult with his lawyers. And Ty Cobb, the lawyer here at the White House released a statement after the President made his comments saying "While Mr. Trump was speaking hurriedly before departing for Davos, he remains committed to continued complete cooperation with the office of special counsel and is looking forward to speaking with Mr. Mueller."

I can tell you sources say that an in-person interview with Robert Mueller would be something of a last resort. All the terms are being negotiated. And sources tell us that no date has been set on a possible interview.

Now meantime, the President also talked about immigration and what he would do about dreamers and whether they would get permanent citizenship.

Here's what he said about that.

TRUMP: We want to do a great job with DACA. I think it's our issue. I think it's a better issue for the Republicans and for the Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want citizenship for dreamers?

TRUMP: We're going to -- we're going to morph into it. It's going to happen at some point in the future.


TRUMP: -- over a period of 10 to 12 years, somebody does a great job and work hard. It gives incentives to do a great job. If they worked hard, they've done terrifically whether they have a little company or whether they work or whether -- whatever they're doing, if they do a great job.

I think it's a nice thing to have the incentive of after a period of years being able to become a citizen.

BROWN: Now the White House chief of staff John Kelly now says he is staying behind, not going to Davos so that he can work on that immigration plan that the White Hosue plans to unveil next week.

Pamela Brown, CNN -- at the White House.


SESAY: Well Lucy Flores is the vice president of public affairs for Mitu, a multimedia organization for Latino youth in the U.S. She joins me here in Los Angeles.

Lucy -- welcome.


SESAY: So you had the President there saying he is open to establishing a pathway to citizenship for dreamers, those who were brought to this country as young people brought here illegally, referred to as dreamers.

He says he's open to this. This is the first time he's explicitly said that.

FLORES: Right. Right.

SESAY: Your reaction. FLORES: Well, I mean look, unfortunately with this president, it's hard to determine if what he's saying he actually means. I mean he's made comments in the past not just on immigration but on other issues and then has literally backtracked from them or has completely switched position.

And so it's just really hard to tell how serious he is when he makes comments like these. Now, they're good comments. I mean immigration reform, as a whole, there has always been talk about a pathway to citizenship. It has always been, you know, after numbers of years, folks who are undocumented in this country would then be eligible for citizenship.

That's a fantastic thing. That was included in the bipartisan bill that was passed in 2013 which is now five years ago that never made it through the House. And so this is not a new concept. This is something that has had bipartisan support in the past.

SESAY: The 10 to 12 years, taking him at his word, because that's what we have right now this second. Take him at his word, 10 to 12 years before, you know, it would morph into becoming a citizen. Do you support that time frame?

FLORES: I mean, you know, time frames are definitely relative, especially when it comes to people who have already been in this country and have been here for, you know, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 years and so you have to ask yourself at what point, you know. Where is this arbitrary timeline coming from? Why does it make sense in any kind of, you know, reasonable and logical way?

So I don't know. I suppose it all depends but I do think that because we have been waiting for immigration reform in some form or fashion for so long that I think most people in the immigrant community would take that. They would accept that.

SESAY: I want to pick up on, you know, to that point. The fact people had been wishing for such a long time. You mentioned that bipartisan bill that they say went nowhere. And you're really come to a position where you say the dreamers have been turn into political football and both Democrats and Republicans are just as guilty of exploiting it.

[00:14:59] FLORES: That's correct. Absolutely.

I mean look, it's no secret that under President Obama, he deported a record amount of immigrants, a record number of immigrants, destroyed families. That happened under a president that I personally loved. And that I certainly agreed with him on many, many positions.

But it was under a Democratic administration. But at the same time Republicans are just as guilty and obstructing and turning this into a political football as you say, and doing the same thing, destroying families.

For Republicans I do think it's like even more hypocritical in that, you know, they claim to be the -- the party of family values and the party that wants to keep family units together and values the traditional form of family, whatever that means.

And yet they have no problem whatsoever destroying families on the drop of a dime and will obstruct any kind of progress in order to keep communities intact. I mean you have plenty of people out there who are Trump supporters and in many ways still are who say they made a mistake.

They did not believe that he was going -- they believed him, I should say when he said that he was going to target people who he called criminal. And instead you have upstanding members of communities who have contributed for, as I said, 20, 30 years and are being deported.

SESAY: Let me pick up on that because during the brief government shutdown and I know you saw this. On the Saturday, the Trump campaign released an ad -- released an ad which was, you know, reminded the shutdown essentially about DACA effectively.

They released this ad. We're going to play a brief clip. Let's run that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is right. Build the wall, deport criminals. Stop illegal immigration now. Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.


SESAY: You know, and it has been pointed out that that could be viewed as a cynical play to conflate the dreamers with violence perpetrated by illegal immigrants.

I mean talk to me about your reaction to that. And more importantly, would you support the Democrats doing a deal with this White House to keep dreamers in this country in exchange for paying for President Trump and his wall?

FLORES: No, absolutely not because it makes absolutely no sense. It's not logical. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars.

That wall is byproduct of President Trump and a lot of members of the Republican Party who have used immigrants as scapegoats who have used them to blame them for many of America's problems, whether it be a sluggish economy, the growing wealth inequality as this in this country, job rates et cetera -- there's always been a way to manipulate Americans' anxieties, their fears and blame immigrants for it.

This is not the first time this has happened unfortunately in America. This has been -- we blamed the Irish, we have blamed so many immigrants, Italians et cetera, Chinese. We have always unfortunately gone back to scapegoating immigrants even though this country as strong as it is and amazing as it is because of immigrants.

So it's just such a divisive, really awful way to continue pitting Americans against Americans, community members against community members. And --


SESAY: And the deal -- yes, I mean there's no doubt that that was just ugly when you're talking about people who were brought here as kids, many of whom have excelled in schools, served this country and got into businesses.

The deal if the Democrats -- if the Democrats think that this is -- I mean what if the President says there will be no deal without the wall, which is in fact where they've got to?

FLORES: Well, I think that the Democrats as they did a couple of weeks ago have in their back pocket the fact that the government will shutdown again after February 8, if they don't come to an agreement on a continuing resolution for the budget. So I do believe that Democrats --

SESAY: You think they were in a strong position to push this one?

FLORES: Well, I believe that they can still use that as leverage, absolutely. In the same way that frankly they should have last week before deciding or I should say just a couple of days ago --


FLORES: So I do think that Democrats really need to --


SESAY: You want a clean bill - -

FLORES: It needs to be a clean bill -- a clean dream act and frankly it would be a complete and total waste of taxpayer dollars to do anything associated with building that wall.

SESAY: All right. Lucy Flores -- so great to have you with us. Thank you.

FLORES: Thanks for having me.

SESAY: Appreciate it.

FLORES: Absolutely.

SESAY: All right. We're going to take a very quick break here.

Still ahead, one of South Africa's largest cities and a tourism hub could run out of water in a matter of months -- the urgent, urgent efforts underway to prevent Cape Town from going dry.


SESAY: Cape Town, South Africa has been suffering from a severe drought for three years and authorities warn if residents don't cut back sharply on water usage, reserves could dry up in April. Our Michael Holmes has more on this looming crisis.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: South Africa's famous city by the sea may be running out of water. Cape Town, home to nearly four million people and vacation spot for two million tourists a year has only about three months left in its water reserves.

Three years of drought and a boom in population over the past two decades has outstretched the city's caps at the height of the summer.

Officials have dubbed April 21st as Day Zero for the day that Cape Town official runs dry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Day Zero is going to happen whether the government wants to do it or not. I think the water is going to run out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's pretty scary to think about it but I think it's a reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I could see is that I think it's happening in the last 20 years, the conservation of water. And now it's happening, this predicament.

HOLMES: Authorities are asking residents and tourists alike to limit the amount of water they use to 87 liters per person per day. That means keeping showers to two minutes, using recycled water in the garden and flushing the toilet only when necessary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- every other day we shower to save water. But really make do.

HOLMES: Some officials are saying that residents are not heeding the warnings and fines may be imposed. Once the reservoir dips below 13.5 percent, the city will shut off water to everyone except essential services.

Residents will then have to collect their own water at centers around the city with a maximum daily ration of 25 liters per person. It is a daunting prospect for some locals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at Day Zero, we are looking at Day Zero -- are there no other alternatives other than to close up my hotel. We'll switch off all the (INAUDIBLE). There are alternatives and there are countries in this world that have proven their own ways to deal with drought.

HOLMES: City officials are scrambling to find alternative water sources by building desalination plants and drilling underground bore holes. It's uncertain if these efforts will be ready by Day Zero though.

One thing is for sure, there is no rain in sight for the next several days.

Michael Holmes, CNN.



Let's bring Gasant Abarder. He's the regional executive editor of "Independent Media", one of South Africa's leading media companies. He joins us now from a dry Cape Town.

Gasant -- thank you for being with us.

This would make Cape Town the first city in the developed world to run out of water, if you get to Day Zero. Let me just ask you a very basic question for our viewers.

What is it like living on a mandated 87 liters of water per day?

[00:25:02] GASANT ABARDER, REGIONAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "INDEPENDENT MEDIA": Well, Isha -- thanks so much for the opportunity.

It is really difficult but it's not impossible. And I think you can take these tips (ph) inside your household by switching the toilet, the water supply for the toilet and using ground (ph) water in your system. Collecting shower water and recycling that -- it's really, really possible.

There are people who live in South Africa where that's a daily reality. They're used to (INAUDIBLE) they reuse the water. I think -- I do think, you know, we are a water-scarce region so we've had the warnings, we've had water restrictions. The thing is South Africans, Cape Townians haven't heeded those warnings. And they haven't stuck to --

SESAY: And tell me why because I know that -- it's not just a case of them not heeding the warnings, there are some out there in Cape Town saying this is nothing but a conspiracy theory.

ABARDER: That's unfortunately the case. And a lot of people that I've spoken to, very (INAUDIBLE) people believe that it's some kind of conspiracy by the local government, that Day Zero is a myth to kind of somehow make money, make more revenue out of rate (ph) payers and taxpayers.

And it's real pity because the only plan at the moment is that everybody has to pull together to make water savings. And that's another -- somehow the local government they have no real tangible plan for when Day Zero hits, and that's 10 weeks away, you know, less than 80 days away.

SESAY: And to be clear, you know, I've been doing some reading which suggests that this is more than just a case of a drought and a booming population and climate change. That there is an element of politics at play here, politics on the one side with the Democratic alliances controlling Cape Town and the province; and the national government, the ANC (ph). Give me your take on this view that this is also being driven by politics.

ABARDER: Well, you can (INAUDIBLE) further than that and the current mayor who's a member of the Democratic alliance is under fire and is removed by her own party to oust her. And in the background is the national Department of Water and Sanitation who in my opinion hasn't played their part but at the same time local authorities are responsible for the water, the water supervision (ph).

So at the same time, you know, the DA is going to be happy to claim the accolades in their being told that the bay city in South Africa and sometimes the (INAUDIBLE), so you have to take the accolades and the criticism as well.

And at the moment, this appeared with the election, I call it the water wars. The central government and local government are clashing because they're blaming each other. Meanwhile there's a population -- four million people in the city who don't know what's going to happen when Day Zero hits.

SESAY: I mean as you talk about Day Zero, if that day should come and there are some who say that Cape Town may be past the point of no return. I mean what -- I mean you've heard there are some signs of a plan but I mean I guess, how is this going to end. I mean if you get to Day Zero what are people going to do?

I mean obviously they're going to collect water at these collections points. But from the point of the local government, is it just these desalination plants that people are counting on? I mean what's the long-term plan here if Day Zero hits.

ABARDER: In 2002, consultants warned the city that this day was going to happen. And granted it may be 15, 16 years later but the fact remains it's too late to bring other water options on desalination plants because that's happening in the background.

But I think in terms of Day Zero, it's going to be too late to bring those water alternatives online. And I think we've waited (ph) too little too late. It's a sign of poor governance and bad planning and (INAUDIBLE) as much as the administrations, the agency, governments in power as well.

So a successive list of city administrations didn't heed the warning and didn't switch on alternative water sources in time to avoid this day from happening. It's my belief that it's going to happen. It's inevitable unless everybody from the first of February starts using 50 liters of water there.

SESAY: Yes because that's the mandate, right. From 87 liters down to 50 liters on February 1st.

Gasant Abarder -- we wish you the very best, you and all Cape Townians. This is a dreadful position to be in. Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

ABARDER: Thank you -- Isha. SESAY: Now a Saudi oil giant and what could be the world's biggest initial public offering. What the CEO of Aramco has to say about listing in New York. We'll have the details when we come back.



SESAY(voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:


Saudi Arabia's oil giant Aramco is looking for new business opportunities and is eyeing the U.S. Aramco's ready to launch an initial public offering and it's considering listing its shares in New York. CEO Amin Nasser talked to our own John Defterios there in Davos.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: The New York Stock Exchange is suggesting we shouldn't bend over backwards for Aramco or anybody else.

Do you expect them to make any sort of special rules for your listing, including for example, royalty payments, which are a special feature in the Middle East countries, of course?

AMIN NASSER, CEO, ARAMCO: Well, to bend backwards, you need to tell me first what Aramco requests of you (ph), first of all. But my point is we're not expected nobody to bend backward for us when we list.

We will -- we have certain requirements if that decision is based on this country or that country. And based on that, we'll make our -- if there is any requirements. But we are not asking anybody to set (INAUDIBLE) they can say yes or can they say no.


SESAY: Joining me once again from Davos, CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson.

Nic, thanks for being with us once again. So Aramco looking to branch out possibly, moving toward a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

How ambitious a move is this?

Put it in some kind of context for us.

ROBERTSON: Sure. The bottom line here is Saudi Arabia, under King Salman and his son, crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, are looking to their Vision 2030, which is a future vision of Saudi Arabia, which is not so dependent on hydrocarbons, which seeks to employ 75 percent of the population, 80 percent of the population, who are under30 right now. So this is a big vision about the future and how do you fund such a vision about the future, particularly you know when they first -- when this was first conceived and first propagated, this vision, when the price of oil was lower. Well, you seek to find from within the country's assets money.

And the IPO at Aramco is a way to -- is a way to accrue -- is a way to accrue the wherewithal to make some of those --


ROBERTSON: -- fundamental and big changes, the changes they are talking about are investment in huge port facilities that would dwarf anything that the country has right now and become mega ports that could dominate trade with -- or at least attempt to dominate trade in the region.

They want to be more competitive in the business environment with the Emirates and Qatar. So this is the context with which the Saudis are bringing the IPO to the market.

SESAY: Fascinating stuff. Our Nic Robertson there from Davos, We appreciate it, thank you.

We're going to hit pause and take a very quick break. A veteran U.S. diplomat just quit an advisory board on the Rohingya crisis, saying his conscience couldn't take it. The reason he resigned -- next.




SESAY: Hello, everyone.

U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson has resigned from an international advisory board on the Rohingya crisis, calling it "a whitewash" and "a cheerleading squad" for Myanmar's government.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has opened holding camps built for tens of thousands of Rohingya people who live there while authorities may show that they can be repatriated. Nearly 700,000 refugees have escaped violence by fleeing to Bangladesh since August.

The United Nations aid chief says Myanmar need to make sure these innocent people are being protected and not traumatized any further.

Justin Forsyth, UNICEF's deputy director joins me now on the phone from Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh. She's also the U.N. assistant secretary-general.

Justin, thank you so much for being with us once again. So I have to ask you for your reaction to former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson quitting the Myanmar crisis panel, saying it's basically a whitewash and blasting Aung San Suu Kyi. What's your reaction?

JUSTIN FORSYTH, UNICEF: I think the situation is very frustrating for everyone involved and very tragic. I've been in Rakhine (INAUDIBLE) in Bangladesh and the stories you hear are just shocking. And I think we were hoping that there would be action in (INAUDIBLE) to improve the situation on the ground, to stop this killing, rape.

I met two young women just yesterday who told me terrible rape. One also had a 7-year-old boy throat cut in front of them. Every girl and woman have been raped. Unless we get an improved situation on the ground, people can't go home from Bangladesh.

Though I understand his frustration, I think we're all frustrated and deeply shocked by what we're seeing and hearing from these refugees.

SESAY: You said that until the safety and well-being of any child returning to Myanmar can be guaranteed, talk of repatriation is premature.

What kind of guarantees are you seeking?

FORSYTH: Well, firstly, we need humanitarian access. We're on the ground in Rakhine State. But we can't go to the very (INAUDIBLE) and even we're in some of the towns (INAUDIBLE), we can't go out to the villages where much of this violence has happened.

Secondly, we need not to return people to camps --


FORSYTH: -- like these open prisons, where people are controlled, where they don't really have any freedom. They need to go back to their villages. They need some guarantees of security from the military.

We also need to make sure we invest a lot (ph). I mean, the villages are being burned down. People have no schools (INAUDIBLE), hungry and malnourished by the time they get into Bangladesh. So we're going to need to provide a -- when they go to Myanmar.

I talk to lots of children and their families here in Bangladesh. And all of them want to go home. But they all believe it's premature. Some of them have even been speaking to relatives (INAUDIBLE) in Rakhine. And we know from reports from our own staff -- and the violence is continuing. People are still coming across the border.

So we can't push people back into that level of violence.

SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) hearing reports, (INAUDIBLE) pictures of Rohingya actually mounting protests in their camps, basically saying that they will not return unless they've got a guarantee of basic protections.

What are your colleagues, what have you seen on the front in terms of the people taking a stand, saying we just can't go back because we won't be safe without any guarantees? FORSYTH: Yes, I think people are very, very scared about going back. And it's -- they're scared because, I mean, almost every girl and woman has been raped. I mean, not everyone but almost everyone. The children shake with fear, they wet their beds, they harm themselves, they're scared.

I mean, I was in a children's learning center run by UNICEF. The pictures they're drawing, one 11-year-old boy showed me his picture and it was men being hung from a tree. And these were men that were hung from the tree, when I asked him, because they had protested against their sisters and wives being raped.

So the level of fear is palpable. It's toxic fear these children have. So we do want them to go home. But the Myanmar government need to create safe conditions. We need access on the ground and in the meantime, there is a looming threat here in Bangladesh. The rains are coming. The race against time, these are very -- the Bangladeshi government has done an extraordinary job in these camps with the U.N., with UNICEF, with NGOs.

But they're very flimsy. The (INAUDIBLE) will increase. So we really (INAUDIBLE) here in Bangladesh to make the situation better.

SESAY: Yes. We're losing our connection with you, Justin. But I'm so grateful you were able to join us and share what you're seeing and the conversations you're having with people there in those camps, in Cox's Bazaar.

I think we've already lost you. But thank you, Justin Forsyth, with UNICEF, we're so grateful, deputy executive director there in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh. Thank you.

All right. Switching gears now, he sold millions of albums and has dozens of top 40 hits and Elton John is saying farewell to the Yellow Brick Road. Whether you call him Captain Fantastic, Rocket Man or Sir Elton, the music (INAUDIBLE) star is now 70 years old. He's a husband and has two sons.

(INAUDIBLE) half-century of life on the road but not before a three- year, 300-show global tour that starts this fall.


ELTON JOHN, SINGER-SONGWRITER: This has been a work in progress leading up to today's announcement. And I'm so looking forward to doing the tour because I don't really do big tours. I'm always working. I do 100 shows a year.

So this is an elaborate tour with an elaborate production, an elaborate stage set. And I'm going to be saying thank you to all the people around the world that made my career so successful. And the boys will be a big part of that. And then when I finish, then I'll have their full attention and I'll -- they'll have my full attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SESAY: Sir Elton's farewell Yellow Brick Road tour is not a goodbye. He has a Las Vegas residency right now. He's working on a Broadway musical and he plans to continue making music and recording after the big tour. So you will not get a chance to miss him. He will be around.

Thank you for watching CNN live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT." You're watching CNN.