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Macron to Address Joint Session of U.S. Congress; Customer Wrestled Gun out of Shooter's Hands; Mystery Surrounds Death of Russian Journalist; Blast Kills 57 at Kabul Voting Center; French President's State Visit; Nicaraguan Government Scraps Pension Reform amid Unrest; Israel Warns against Iran's Role in Syrian War; Man Stranded in Malaysian Airport for 40 days; Trump Might Employ the Art of the Walkout. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired April 23, 2018 - 01:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): President Trump gets defensive, vowing the U.S. won't settle for a bad deal with North Korea and a plea from France as President Macron urges the U.S. to get realistic about Iran's nuclear deal.

Plus the story of a Syrian man stranded inside a Malaysian airport for more than a month so far.

Hello everyone, thanks much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church here at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


CHURCH: In most negotiations there is a process of give and take. But U.S. president Donald Trump will ask North Korea to give up its nuclear program before he takes away any sanctions. That is according to "The Wall Street Journal."

The report comes as Mr. Trump defended his negotiations, tweeting that the U.S. has not given up anything while North Korea has agreed to denuclearize and end its nuclear testing.

Mr. Trump is set to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in late May or June. But that is just one of Mr. Trump's nuclear challenges this week. He will be meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, who will urge Donald Trump not to dump the Iran nuclear deal.

Mr. Macron believes the current deal is indeed better than no deal at all.

Meanwhile South Korean officials are preparing for their summit with the North this week. South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet with North Korea's leader later this week in the demilitarized zone.

It's the first time leaders from the two countries have met since 2007. Now as a goodwill gesture before the summit, South Korea's Defense Ministry has ended its propaganda speaker program.

That operation featured huge speakers, blasting music, news and weather over the DMZ border into North Korea.

Our Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul in South Korea with a closer look at this week's historic talks between the two Koreas.

So Paula, what all is expected to come out of this summit?

And how significant other moves they have made so far to ease tensions?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, I think both North and South Korea have shown some good faith here. They have done certain things that show that they want the right kind of temperament, the right tempo for the summit itself.

Certainly we've seen that from North Korea over the weekend, saying that they have finished their nuclear and missile testing, although to be fair, they haven't tested anything since November last year.

And we had heard that second-hand from the South Korean envoys that met Kim Jong-un. But from the South Korean side, saying they're going to stop this broadcast propaganda that they have across the -- across the border, which has been going on and off for decades now.

It's part of the psychological war that North and South have against each other; the North does exactly the same as well. They broadcast propaganda down to the South.

So it's really both sides showing that they are willing to make some concessions before they sit down. But of course the Blue House is saying it all depends on when they sit down, when they can actually gauge how willing North Korea is to talk about denuclearization, how willing they are to actually take it seriously and, of course, whether or not they think the U.S. will actually guarantee the conditions in return -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Indeed, a lot to consider there. Paula Hancocks, joining us live from Seoul in South Korea, appreciate it.

Emmanuel Macron arrived in Washington Monday for the first official state visit of Donald Trump's presidency. The French president will be discussing a number of issues with Mr. Trump during his three-day visit.

But key among them is the Iran nuclear deal. Boris Sanchez has the details.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: This will be the first official visit for the Trump presidency. President Trump and First Lady Melania expected to receive their French counterparts in French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte at the White House this week. A number of special events planned all pomp and circumstance. That is according to an official state visit.

You'll recall that President Trump was very excited during his Bastille Day visit to France, where the French ruled out the red carpet for hi, so this will be a chance for a reciprocal meeting of sorts from the Americans.

And there are some important items on the agenda. For one, they are expected to talk about one of the president's favorite subjects in trade and something that is immediate on the table, the Iran nuclear deal which reaches an important deadline in May.

Of course, President Trump has long talked about --


SANCHEZ: -- leaving that deal. Several of his key administration officials are also inclined to do the same including Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo and his national security advisor, John Bolton.

Macron has been inclined to suggest that President Trump should stick with the Iran nuclear deal so we'll see just how that plays out. Also on the agenda, the American presidents in Syria -- you recall there was a minor controversy after that joint strike by the United States, France and the U.K. on some chemical weapons facilities in that country.

The French president telling the press that he had convinced Donald Trump to remain in Syria, something the administration pushed back on, saying that the policy had not changed and that President Trump was keen on keeping with his promise. That surprised a number of officials within the administration and at the Pentagon that he would be removing American troops from Syria very soon. It will be a key visit.

And we should also note that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be there and will ultimately see the results playing out on the international stage -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, travelling with the president from West Palm Beach, Florida.


CHURCH: Joining us now with more perspective on the visit is fellow anchor, Cyril Vanier, who used to be based in Paris.

Cyril, before we start, let's just listen to what President Emmanuel Macron said on FOX News a little earlier about the Iran nuclear deal. We'll bring that up.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Is this agreement perfect and this JCPOA a perfect thing for our relationship with Iran?


But for nuclear, what do you have as a better option?

I don't see it. What is a what-if scenario?

All you can be. I don't have any plan B for nuclear against Iran.


CHURCH: Cyril, when you listen to Emmanuel Macron, he wants to come to the United States. He wants to convince President Trump to stick with the Iran nuclear deal.

Can he do that?

But he would need presumably to offer some sort of face-saving deal to Mr. Trump so he can make this an easy transition.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, look, the outcome's totally unpredictable just because Mr. Trump is himself unpredictable on many issues, including this one, the Iran nuclear deal.

If Mr. Macron pulls this off, if Mr. Macron gets Mr. Trump to change his mind on the Iran nuclear deal, and to stay in the deal, that would be the diplomatic coup, if not of the century, probably the early part of 2018.

What -- the French have lowered expectations on this a little bit by saying don't except any deliverables in the diplomatic jargon. don't expect any announcements by the White House while we're here.

And they are part of a broader effort, German Chancellor Angela Merkel coming to the White House at the end of the week, will be laying out the exact same arguments.

And what are the arguments?

Mr. Macron will explain to Mr. Trump that pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal in his view doesn't need to be a sign of weakness. There are ways to be tough on Iran and tougher than the current deal is and yet stay within this framework.

Mr. Macron had actually hoped to come to the White House with a set of European sanctions on Iran, to show Mr. Trump, look, we can ratchet up pressure on Iran and still stay within the deal.

Those sanctions don't exist so that's not going to be the case but that's an important part of the message from Mr. Macron, which is we can put more pressure on Iran and still stay within this framework.

CHURCH: There does seem to be a special relationship between the two world leaders. You see that Trump seems to admire Emmanuel Macron, even though their politics -- talk about opposite -- why is that?

And do you think there's a possibility that Macron can maybe talk to him not only about the Iran nuclear deal but climate change and free trade? VANIER: Yes, there are going to be a number of issues at play. As for the relationship, Mr. Macron actually addressed this in that FOX News interview. And he said the reason we get on is because we're both outsiders. We're both political mavericks.

Rightly or wrongly, for Mr. Macron but I do think that Mr. Trump sees him that way as well. Both of their elections were unexpected. Mr. Trump sees Mr. Macron as a strong leader, as a winner. We know he likes that.

Also Mr. Macron was been very adept at pitching himself and knowing how to address the president. The Bastille Day visit by Mr. Trump to France last year was a big turning point in the relationship.

Mr. Trump pretty much said as much; he was impressed by that visit. And I remember covering that. It was impressive, the extent to which Mr. Macron used that visit to really get under Mr. Trump's skin.

He literally took him by the hand and walked him around French monuments that underscored the rich French history, French military victories, et cetera, to show to Mr. Trump, we are a powerful nation.


VANIER: We can't be pushed around. Take us seriously.

It appears that that worked to the extent that Mr. Trump wants his own military parade and likely will have one in the U.S.

So that is probably one of the best if not the best personal relationship that Mr. Trump has with a world leader.

As to issues, real quick, on global warming, that ship has sailed. The French do not expect to change Mr. Trump's mind on that. They will lay out their arguments again; they'll go through the motions, lay out the arguments, explain the negative impact of pulling out of the Paris climate accord. They don't expect to change his mind.

On trade, the message is going to be this: we are your friends. France, Europe, we are your friends. If you want to go to war with China on -- with a trade war, you want to perhaps pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, you have enough on your plate. Keep your friends at least on your side.

CHURCH: Wow, a lot to cover. We'll be watching to see. It's going to be an extraordinary visit, three days. All right, thanks so much, Cyril. Appreciate it.

A massive manhunt is underway in the U.S. state of Tennessee for a gunman who opened fire at a restaurant, killing four people. Authorities are searching for this man 29-year-old Travis Reinking, who they say entered the restaurant armed with an assault-type rifle and wearing nothing but a jacket.

It was only when a customer jumped on Reinking and grabbed his rifle that the shooting stopped. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES SHAW JR., WAFFLE HOUSE HERO: I was just really waiting for a moment, like just a moment that he was going to give me. And he gave me that moment. He gave me that moment when he put the barrel, he aimed -- the barrel of the gun was aimed down.

And then I just had to kind of go for it and I went for it and I ran through the door and it worked out for me. So it worked out for me.


CHURCH: And that gentleman is being hailed a hero for his actions as authorities search for Reinking, we are learning more about his past. Dianne Gallagher has the latest.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question that so many people here in Antioch, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville have today is, why?

Police say that 29-year-old Travis Reinking came to the Waffle House behind me just after 3:00 am Central time on Sunday morning and walked out of his truck, completely nude, wearing a green jacket, armed with an AR-15 and opened fire, killing two people in the parking lot and then went into the restaurant, killing two others.

He injured four additional people and police say had it not been for one man that they're calling a hero, it could've been much worse. They say that James Shaw Jr. ran to the bathroom when he heard the shot.

And then he says he just kind of decided it's fight or flight. I've got to do something. He tackled the shooter, was able to get the gun away from him, threw it over the counter and pushed him out of the restaurant.

After that, that is when the shooter, police say, walked off into the woods. He hasn't been in Nashville very long. Police here had no interactions with him whatsoever. He moved here in autumn of 2017.

But the summer before in July of 2017 he had a run-in in Washington, D.C. U.S. Secret Service arrested him trying to get into the White House. He said he was a sovereign citizen and that he had a meeting with President Donald Trump.

Now they took him off; they put in kind of a program to get him through that and then let him go. But the FBI and Illinois authorities in his home state visited him, interviewed him and later Illinois revoked his authorization to own a gun.

They confiscated four weapons; they gave them to his father and police now say that his father has acknowledged that he decided to give those four guns back to his son. One of those weapons, the AR-15, was, police say, used in this particular shooting on Sunday morning. It wasn't the first time, though, that authorities in Illinois had had any sort of run-in with Reinking. They say that he, back in 2016, (INAUDIBLE) shoot himself and he had delusions about the pop star, Taylor Swift, that she was stalking him, that she was trying to tap into his Netflix account and into his phone.

She was with the FBI and his parents ganging up against him. And this is something that they say they were concerned about. Obviously, they are still investigating and trying to figure out what may have led to this event here at the Waffle House.

But again, we have four people dead, four others injured in this shooting -- Dianne Gallagher, Antioch, Tennessee, CNN.


CHURCH: An investigative journalist's fatal fall becomes a story of its own. We will show you the strange circumstances surrounding a Russian reporter's death and the story that may have played a part.

Plus: they really wanted to make their voices count but they were silenced by a bomber, the latest on a deadly attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.






CHURCH: CHURCH: The death of a Russian journalist is raising questions about how he died. Police say there was no foul play in Maxim Borodin's death. However, those who knew him believe it may have something to do with the last story he covered.

Nic Robertson went to the scene of Borodin's death and has this report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): A thousand miles or more east of Moscow is Yekaterinburg, still semi- slumped in its Soviet past.

Among so many other drab, humdrum apartments of that era, this balcony. It seems unremarkable, yet it is not.

ROBERTSON (on camera): In the early hours of April 12th this year, a young, up and coming investigative reporter tipped over the balcony and fell. His neighbors found his body here, crumpled in the street. His death is a mystery.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In life, Maxim Borodin, on the right, excelled at fun. At work, his intrepid investigative streak brought him acclaim and enemies.

One interview about ultra-royalists, he said, earning him a bang on the head by a thug wielding a metal bar. But it was his recent reporting on Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria that really got him national attention.

Police say they don't see foul play but the night before his fall he called a friend, telling him his apartment was surrounded by security officials wearing camouflage, asking him to call a lawyer. Shortly after, telling the friend who posted the details to Facebook, it was a false alarm.

ROBERTSON (on camera): None of his neighbors here want to talk about what happened and it's impossible to know precisely what took place that night. But there's a big dent in the dirt, broken twigs on the tree next to it, mud splattered on the wall directly below his balcony.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): At the news agency Novy Den (New Day) where Borodin worked, his colleagues are still struggling to fathom their loss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He was a great journalist. His investigations, his stories, his interviews always made a big splash among the audience.

Another of Borodin's friends who despite his own difficulties wants us to understand Borodin had so much to live for, not the suicidal type.

ROBERTSON (on camera): A spokesman for the interior ministry tells us that Borodin's apartment was locked from the inside. A fact, he says, that indicates no one left the apartment. Most likely, he says, there were no strangers in there.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The closer you look here, the less the facts seem to add up and the harder it seems to grasp the truth. At New Day, strange things have been happening. They say their Internet traffic from search engines has nosedived in the past few days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): According to our sources -- this is obviously not verified but they are saying that it was a targeted action on someone's order.

ROBERTSON: Of all Borodin's reporting the most sensitive story about Russian mercenaries in Syria goes right to the top. They work for a company called Wagner, linked to oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin who denies any ties, is a target of U.S. sanctions and close friend of President Putin.

But, cautions Borodin's boss, his death may just be a tragic accident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is a journalist's job to uncover things that others would like hide, but that doesn't mean he had enemies who wanted to kill him.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): It feels, not for the first time, a chill is falling across Russia's reporters -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Yekaterinburg, Russia.


CHURCH: Members of Pakistan's second biggest ethnic group, the Pashtun, say the country's military is violating their human rights. Thousands rallied in the city of Lahore on Sunday, demanding justice. Amnesty International says the Pashtun have faced systemic discrimination for decades.

Pashtun activists say Pakistani security forces are using the war against the Taliban to silence them, to make them disappear and to carry out extrajudicial killings.

Victims of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, were hoping to register to vote on Sunday. Instead a bomber killed 57 people, including five children. It is the latest in a series of terror attacks targeting the Afghan capital. Michael Holmes has this report.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Terror may have targeted the democratic process in Kabul on Sunday morning, where Afghan officials say dozens are dead after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the gate of a voter registration center.

The interior ministry says people were waiting outside to collect national ID cards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): After I heard a bang, I rushed to the site of the blast. And when I arrived at the scene, we helped many wounded people, to carry them to the hospital.

All the victims were women and children, who were here to get their identity cards and register for elections.

HOLMES (voice-over): In a statement distributed through telegram, ISIS claimed responsibility, saying their, quote, "martyrdom brother" was targeting a Shiite dominated area of Kabul.

In a message posted to Twitter, Afghanistan's chief executive condemning the attack, saying, quote, "Our resolve for a fair and transparent election will continue and terrorists won't win against the will --


HOLMES (voice-over): -- "of the Afghan people."

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan is also tweeting, saying the attack was "senseless," perpetrated by, quote, "enemies of democracy."

It's the latest in a series of attacks to hit the Afghan capital this year. Media reports say militants have attacked at least two other voter registration centers in the last week.

In March, two separate suicide attacks killed nearly 40 people; one of the bombings claimed by ISIS. In February, several were killed not far from the Kabul green zone. And in January, the Taliban said they carried out two attacks in which more than 100 people were killed.

Sunday morning's attack was only the most recent instance of carnage in Kabul, which is yet to see a month without violence this year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I and three of my brothers were wounded in the blast after we had gathered to get our identity cards. The only thing we want from this government is a better situation and a peaceful country so we can study our lessons and live a better life.

HOLMES (voice-over): Michael Holmes, CNN.


CHURCH: And coming up, a surprising decision by Nicaragua's leader after nearly a week of violent demonstrations that rocked the country. We're back with that and more in just a moment.




[01:29:41] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Rosemary Church. Want to check the headlines for you this hour.

U.S. President Donald Trump says the U.S. has not given up anything in its dealings so far with North Korea. "The Wall Street Journal" now reports Mr. Trump will ask North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to substantially dismantle his nuclear arsenal before the U.S. agrees to lifting sanctions. The two are expected to meet in late May or June.

Authorities in the U.S. state of Tennessee are looking for this man, 29-year-old Travis Reinking. He is the suspect in a Nashville area restaurant shooting that left four people dead. Police say Reinking was only wearing a jack when he opened fire with an assault-type rifle. A customer wrestled the weapon out of Reinking's hands. He then fled.

Several opposition leaders have been detained in Armenia in a growing political crisis. Mass demonstrations have gone on for over a week now over fears the newly-appointed prime minister is trying to make himself a leader for life. He'd already served ten years as President. The prime minister met Sunday with the main protest leader but those talks quickly broke down.

Well, the French president's three-day stay in Washington is the first official state visit of Donald Trump's presidency and though the two may differ on a number of key issues, Melissa Bell reports they appear to get along personally.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The strikes may have been carefully coordinated but the row that followed was anything but after the French President claimed to be driving U.S. policy in Syria.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Ten days ago President Trump said the U.S.' will is to disengage from Syria. We convinced them. We convinced them that it was necessary to stay.

BELL: It took less than five hours for the White House to respond denying that its policy had changed; a squaring-off between two presidents that began nearly a year ago with a grip that was more arm wrestle than handshake.

Last May, two ideologically different political newcomers sized each other up for the first time. The policy clash came only weeks later over climate change when President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

BELL: Emmanuel Macron responded turning Trump's campaign slogan against him.

MACRON: Make our planet great again.

BELL: But the sizing up and political differences then gave way in July to an unexpected truce. In Paris, the two presidents met and it appears actually liked each other.

TRUMP: I really have the feeling that you're going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris and I'm coming back. You better do a good job please, otherwise you're going to make me look very bad.

MACRON: And you're always welcome.

TRUMP: Thank you.

BELL: Progress they said had been made on a number of issues, even it seemed on climate change.

TRUMP: We discussed a lot of different topics. We briefly hit on the Paris Accord. And we'll see what happens.

BELL: After the pomp and circumstance of the Bastille Parade and more exchanges between the two presidents. It was time to say goodbye which they did with more warmth than anyone had imagined possible, warmth that has now translated into the first state visit of Donald Trump's presidency.

Melissa Bell, CNN -- Paris.


CHURCH: Philanthropist and former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg says he'll do what President Trump is not doing to stop climate change. Bloomberg says he will write a check for $4.5 million to cover this year's U.S. financial commitment to the Paris Climate agreement. Bloomberg is hopeful President Trump may change his mind and allow the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Accord.

Nicaragua's president says he is cancelling a wildly unpopular pension reform plan that would raise cost for workers and reduce their benefits. That announcement is reportedly calming some of the protests and looting that have plagued the country for days.

The President insisted the pension plan would slash the country's social security deficit. But after negotiating with protesters and opponents he says he's hoping to work out a new plan.

CNN's Rafael Romo has the latest.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The surprising move came Sunday afternoon. President Daniel Ortega on a nationally televised broadcast announced he was revoking a controversial social security reform resolution.

The Nicaraguan president made the announcement on the fifth day of violent protests that had already left at least 25 dead and dozens injured until Sunday. Ortega made it very clear that his government won't tolerate more violence on the streets.

DANIEL ORTEGA, PRESIDENT OF NICARAGUA (through translator): We have to restore order. We cannot allow for chaos, crime, and looting to prevail. We cannot allow it.

[01:35:01] And we will act under the rule of law and under the constitution to ensure and guarantee the restoration of stability and social peace so that workers can go to work, no worries.

ROMO: There have been clashes between protesters and security forces since Wednesday. That's when the government announced increased contributions into the social security system by workers and employers but reduced pensions for retirees.

Journalist Angel Eduardo Gahona died Saturday night as he was covering the protests, live. He was shot in the head but it was not immediately clear who was responsible for his death.

Both the U.S. State Department and the United Nations condemned the violence against protesters and called for a peaceful resolution. At the Vatican Pope Francis said he joins Nicaraguan bishops in asking for an end to violence in order to quote, "avoid the useless shedding of blood".

Rafael Romo, CNN -- (INAUDIBLE).


CHURCH: Imagine the world's longest layover and we guarantee, you've got nothing on this man. One Syrian's extraordinary story. That's coming your way in just a moment.


CHURCH: The Israeli prime minister is stepping up his warnings that Iran's military presence in the Syrian civil war is dangerous, not just to Syria but for the stability of the entire Middle East. Of course, that includes Israel, Iran's long-time adversary.

Here's Oren Liebermann with more.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Seven years into Syria's civil war, one subplot is emerging. When an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace in February, it marked the beginning of a new phase between Israel and Iran, two rivals vying fore regional positioning.

[01:39:55] Israel shot down the drone and struck the controlling base, losing an F-16 fighter jet to Syrian air defenses in the process. The exchange made one thing clear -- Israel and Iran are drawing closer.

A battle that used to be carried out through proxies -- Israel fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon has been replaced by near-direct confrontation. A recent air strike in the Syrian T4 military base, a strike pinned on Israel killed seven Iranian nationals. Iran has vowed to respond.

HOSSEIN SALAMI, REVOLUTIONARY GUARD COMMUNICATOR (through translator): Listen and be aware. Any war that might happen, rest assure, will bring about your disappearance. The smallest goal is your existence and there's no smaller objective than that.

You can't handle the domino effect of occupation when you're citizens and soldiers escape. You have no escape route apart from falling into the sea.

LIEBERMANN: U.S.-led air strikes a few days later made a statement, "The West wouldn't stand for Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons."

Despite Israeli leaders hailing (ph) strikes, security expert Amiram Levin says that's not how President Donald Trump's message was received.

AMIRAM LEVIN, SECURITY EXPERT: The strike was too week and the effect was almost nothing. In other words he told Russia, he told Assad, he told the Iranians, you can continue with your policy in Syria. You can continue to kill children, to kill innocent people as long as you don't do it with chemical weapons --

LIEBERMANN: Israel views with growing alarm, Iran's presence in Syria. The country's leaders reiterating Israel's position, it will not allow Iran to establish a military presence to Israel's north. In Syria's fog of war, Israel sees a chance to act.

AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): I know one thing for certain we will not allow the Iranians to base themselves in Syria and there will be a price for that. We have no other choice. To agree to an Iranian presence in Syria is agreeing to the fact that the Iranians will put a noose around our necks.

LIEBERMANN: Syria is a fractured country but even in its shifting sands, Iran and Israel have drawn their red lines.

Analysts say the rivalry has entered a new phase -- countries more willing to confront each other, even directly. What was for so long a war of words and covert actions risks moving closer to open confrontation.

Oren Liebermann, CNN -- Jerusalem.


CHURCH: The United Nations says more than five million people have fled Syria since the brutal civil war began in 2011. And that's not counting the Syrian nationals who are living abroad when war broke out and have found themselves with no home to return to.

CNN'S Pauline Chiou tells us the story of one Syrian man who's been living in limbo at an airport.


HASSAN AL KONTAR, SYRIAN STUCK IN MALAYSIAN AIRPORT: Well, as you can hear I am at the airport.

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In his first day stranded in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Hassan al-Kontar was confused, unsure how to proceed.

AL KONTAR: I don't know what should I do. Someone advised me to make a video.

CHIOU: As weeks went by, the 36-year-old Syrian national became more frustrated, video-blogging life inside an airport corner.

AL-KONTAR: I am even sick but there's no medicine. And this sound, I start -- I hate this sound. It's everywhere. They're nice (ph).

CHIOU: For more than 40 days al-Kontar has been living in the Malaysian Airport's transit zone using a special needs bathroom to shower and attempt to clean his clothes, sleeping intermittently in stairwells and airport seating.

He tried to stay positive while speaking to us via Skype. It's exhausting but you'll get used to it. I keep reminding myself that it's ok. I need to focus on the big picture here but I never hear someone die because he sat on a chair.

CHIOU: Al-Kontar left Syria in 2006 to work as an insurance marketing agent in the U.A.E. But his work permit expired shortly after the war began. Al-Kontar says he stayed illegally in the U.A.E. for several years fearing forced military service in his war-torn home country.

AL-KONTAR: War is not the answer. War is not the solution. Think as a human for just a second. Think of the mothers, of the fathers, sisters and kids who are being -- who are dying on the streets.

CHIOU: In 2017, he was deported to Malaysia, one of the few countries he says will grant a temporary tourist visa upon arrival. He then tried to go to Ecuador which he understood does not require a visa. He says after buying the ticket Turkish Airlines would not let him board, would not refund his money and would not explain why. Turkish Airlines did not respond to CNN for comment.

[01:45:01] Finally al-Kontar tried going to Cambodia but they denied him entry. He was sent back to Kuala Lumpur where he was not allowed to re-enter because his tourist visa had expired leaving him stuck since March 7.

Aid and refugee agencies have responded to his pleas for help. In a statement to CNN, the UNHCR says, "We have been in contact with the individual and continue to engage with the government of Malaysia."

After several weeks, al-Kontar says Malaysia did offer him re-entry under a refugee resettlement program. But he won't accept because it is a temporary solution that poses a permanent problem.

AL-KONTAR: Malaysia did not sign directly the agreement, 1951 agreement with the United Nations so I cannot work, I cannot have any official visa or refugee visa. So at the time of my -- expire my passport, I will be stuck here forever.

CHIOU: The Malaysian immigration office was unavailable to comment to CNN. Meanwhile al-Kontar remains in limbo eating small airline- provided package meals depending on the kindness of airport staff and embracing little victories as they come.

AL-KONTAR: After all these days, it's different (INAUDIBLE). Look I just got this chocolate.

CHIOU: Al-Kontar has received some donations from people moved by his predicament but his real worry, he says, is not his dwindling savings.

AL-KONTAR: It's not enough I have money. It's not enough additional (ph) support. I'm appearing in this story that humans' values will (INAUDIBLE) and the soul of my people.

CHIOU: Al-Kontar's predicament is not unprecedented. At times being compared to Tom Hanks' character in the Steven Spielberg film, "The Terminal"

AL-KONTAR: This is the real show. And he was having Catherine Zeta- Jones acting with him for God's sakes. I have no one.

CHIOU: He jokes at the comparison but wants the world to know that his real life situation is one that too many of his countrymen also face.

AL-KONTAR: Hundreds, thousands, millions of Syrians are facing these types of rejection, adjusting (ph), unwanted kind of racism all around the world since 2011. And we are suffering. We are being the bell (ph) of others' war in our land.

CHIOU: As the days tick by, al-Kontar continues trying to call attention to his cause from a corner of the airport watching flights come and go to destinations around the world, powerless to board one.

Pauline Chiou, CNN.


CHURCH: Let's hope some solutions can be found.

And we will be back in just a moment with more news. Stay with us.


[01:50:06] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Quickly getting into the heart of the severe weather season, meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, CNN Weather Watch watching the southern U.S. here, mainly along the Gulf Coast where enough instability in place, not only for some very heavy rainfall but also some isolated severe weather in the forecast.

Moving into parts of Monday and eventually into Tuesday, certainly could see some flights disrupted out of Charlotte and also Atlanta with the amount of rainfall that is in store. (INAUDIBLE) and some of these storms could really mean business, in fact upwards of 300 millimeters could come down in the next couple of days across the southern portion of the state of South Carolina.

Generally speaking though the warmth, the gorgeous weather -- it is all going to be confined out towards the western U.S. and it warms up on a historic level here in the next couple of days. We see those temps really soaring into the highest we've seen by far in 2018 -- more on that momentarily.

Across the East Coast though you see kind of the battle of spring and winter take place in Washington D.C. from 19 to 12, back up to 21, back down to 19 degrees. And New York City keeps that same sort of a trend as well.

But notice the Western U.S. temps that you certainly do not see in the month of April, May or June frankly when you soar into the 30s in Portland. In Seattle, as well, multiple days of sunny weather and into the middle 20s is what they expect.

Work your way down towards Managua expect 36 degrees, in Mexico City about 27 degrees, a few thunderstorms beginning to pop in to the forecast there; and farther toward the south, La Paz, thanks for tuning in, 15.

CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Donald Trump has never hesitated to leave an interview when he doesn't like the questions. But it looks like his willing to possibly use the same exit strategy for an upcoming summit with North Korea's leader.

Jeanne Moos has more now on Mr. Trump's "Art of the Walkout".


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing like threatening to walk out of a summit meeting before it begins, if it begins.

TRUMP: If the meeting, when I'm there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.

MOOS: The art of the walkout.

TRUMP: We end.

MOOS: Now, we've seen a few Donald Trump walkouts, mostly from interviews.

TRUMP: That's enough.

MOOS: We doubt the President would wave dismissively at Kim Jong-un. And let's hope there's no label lobbing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've been labeled a racist. You've been called a sexist.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you respond to that?

TRUMP: I am the least racist person you've ever met.

MOOS: But things could turn negative with North Korea --

TRUMP: Back to the negative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back to the negative.

TRUMP: Back to the -- you know what do this interview with somebody else. You don't need this. Do it with somebody.

MOOS: Donald Trump once walked out on a Madonna concert years ago -- walked out because the concert was terrible.

In his book "The Art of the Deal" Trump dishes out advice like "Know when to walk away from the table. The worst thing you can possibly do on a deal is seem desperate to make it.

But you know, Kim Jong-un is probably going to be wise to these tactics because last year Dennis Rodman gave the North Koreans a copy of "The Art of the Deal". It's probably safe to assume the leaders won't call each other by names like --

TRUMP: Little rocket man.

MOOS: -- and --


MOOS: After all the President suggested he would --

TRUMP: Respectfully leave the meeting.

MOOS: He was very respectful when he walked out on Ellie G, the fake rapper who tried to get Trump to invest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This ice cream clubs --

MOOS: Trump handled him with kids' gloves.

TRUMP: Good luck, folks. It's been nice seeing you. You take care of yourself ok.


MOOS: But Mr. President, if you do walk out on North Korea, make sure you have a door to walk through.

Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.


CHURCH: No exit strategy then.

All right. Let's turn to the weather now. And people across Europe, don't need to be told, it's hot -- much hotter than usual. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now to explain why. What's going on -- Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Pretty remarkable set up, Rosie. You know, we're talking about temps that are summer-like in nature and of course, you take a look at scenes across the Serpentine Lake there in Hyde Park, folks breaking out the shorts and t-shirts getting on the paddle boats enjoying the sunshine.

Temps among the hottest we've ever seen in 70 years for the month of April. It's actually a massive area of high pressure, with it really blocking any sort of disturbance and up and over they went. So we kept the area dry, we kept it extremely warm, pumped in that southerly air as well.

And you look at places such as London, they warmed up on Thursday to 29.1 degrees. The last time, it was that hot in the month of April was back in 1949. So we're talking just shy of 70 years ago before it was this hot.

And of course, on Sunday you may know, we have the London marathon take place and guess what, the high temperatures warmed up to 24 degrees -- that was a couple of degrees above what was the previous record, making it the hottest London marathon on record as well. [01:54:59] So needless to say, it a scene (ph) like this is playing out cross that region and, of course, this time of year it is a nice transitional period. You begin to see a milder reading, a really fascinating statistics here.

The optimum temperatures for marathoners, you want them to be around 6 to 8 degrees Celsius. So if you're in tune with the Fahrenheit scale, in the lower 40s Fahrenheit, the middle 40s and once you get up above say 10 degrees Celsius especially as you climb into the 20s where we were in the past 24 hours, there's a 10 to almost 20 percent speed loss associated with these sorts of temperatures. And of course, a lot of people having to deal with it, Rosemary, better conditions, much cooler temperatures and normal for this time of year back in store the next couple of days.

CHURCH: Oh wow. Unbelievable. Thanks so much for that Pedram. Appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: And before you leave you we want to show you a moment of solidarity. Here is a look at Melania Trump along with several former presidents and former first ladies -- all of them coming together to say goodbye to former first lady Barbara Bush. Her husband at the helm there.

And this was at her funeral in Houston on Saturday -- a remarkable photograph there.

And thank you so much for your company and for staying on. I'm Rosemary Church. The news continues next with Natalie Allen and Cyril Vanier.

You are watching CNN, the world's news leader. Have a great day.