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Flood Waters Slowly Recede Thousands Still Trapped; Michael Cohen May Be Charged By Month's End; Venezuelan President Maduro's Economic Reforms; Afghan Government Officers Truce to Taliban for Eid al-Adha Holiday; Iran's Foreign Minister Rejects Trump's Offer of Direct Talks. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 20, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A meeting they have wanted for decades and it's here. Some fortunate families are finally going to reunite with their loved ones living across the Korean border.

Also, a drastic attempt to shake up Venezuela's economy could make it even worse. Experts are giving dire warning against Venezuela's new plan for its currency.

Plus, an exclusive CNN interview, we sit down with Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, as he plans what he calls Washington's addicted to sanctions.

Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us. I am Natalie Allen. And this is CNN NEWSROOM.

For a few fortunate South Koreans, the day they have hoped for that's feared would never come is finally here. 89 South Koreans are now in North Korea for reunions with loved ones they have not seen in decades. Thousands of families were separated when the Korean War broke out in 1950. These reunions will be brief, just three days, but it could be the last chance for these elderly Koreans to see their relatives. Our Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul, South Korea. These reunions are so very rare but always so sweet and so sad at the same time, Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, we're expecting within the next hour that the 89 South Korean families could actually meet their loved ones -- for the first time in decades. So, it is a (INAUDIBLE) to begin that in North Korea right now, an incredibly emotional time for these people, the majority of who are in their 80s and their 90s. And really feel that this is the last chance they have to reconnect with family members that they haven't seen since 1950's, since the Korean War and tore so many families apart.

They are the lucky few and they are a fraction of the amount of people that would like to be reunited with their families. 57,000 people were under consideration and just 89 are going. And it really is a race against time as well, given the age of many of these participants. And just to show a tragic example of that, four people were supposed to be a part of this but they had to pull out in just the past two or three days because of health reasons.

So, certainly that would have been a very bitter blow for them as well. Now, the head of the red cross in South Korea is pushing for more reunions; he's pushing for more people to be involved in each reunion. He's looking at different ways that these families can stay in touch as well, after the three days are over. He said that he realizes and appreciate how difficult it is for those who aren't chosen and those who are but then have to come home after three days. This is what he had to say:


PARK KYUNG-SEO, RED CROSS KOREA CHAIRMAN: Imagine, 73 years long without knowing if whether their family members are still alive or passed away. The agony, that's an unthinkable human tragedy.


HANCOCKS: Now, these reunions only happen when North and South Korea are enjoying good relations. And certainly, at the moment, the inter- Korean relationship is better than it has been in many years. There hasn't been one of these reunions for three years but they are still fairly rare. And there is a real push from the South Korean side to try and increase the number of reunions that happen, Natalie.

ALLEN: So, hope so. Can't imagine what it would be like to see a family member that you haven't seen in maybe 70 years. Unbelievable. Thank you, Paula Hancocks for us there in Seoul.

There is grim resignation among the people in Idlib, Syria. It is, the last rebel-held enclave in the country, and the government offensive to retake the area appears imminent. There are nearly three million people there, and as Arwa Damon reports, for many, there is simply nowhere else to go.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There used to be an ice cream shop on the corner. Kids playing in the street. A sense that the violence would not strike here, at least not like this. It's five days after multiple air strikes hit this once quiet neighborhood in Idlib province, killing dozens of people, shattering whatever illusion of safety that may have existed.

For seven years now, Syria's the unraveling has been undocumented. "What's the point in all your filming," Ibrahim Mafe wants to know. So, there is no humanity in this. In the world, (INAUDIBLE) responds to (INAUDIBLE) heartless destruction.

Only one of Ibrahim's five children survived. It's just memories now. The family next door displaced from elsewhere were all killed. Seven of them. Also killed was a media activist, Ahmed. Ahmed was just 20- years old, a nurse and first responder by training. A role he played in his native Aleppo before the family was forcibly displaced to Idlib as the regime took over. [01:05:52] When he saw that the responders weren't there, he threw his

cameras aside and went to save a little girl. Ahmed's father, Mahmoud tells us. But another strike came in killing them both. His parents seem stoic together, proud but in pain. But later, as his mother shows us Ahmed's clothes, she breaks down.

In the room next door, his father shows us his photos. Tears he can't cry in front of his wife. They did everything together. A father/son team documenting their nation's pain. Now, directly a part of it. Like a summer piece of life as we drive through Idlib province seems to bely the looming the violence. It's the last remaining name main (INAUDIBLE).

Turkey, Russia, and Iran have been negotiating to ostensibly come to some sort of agreement. To prevent a total massacre here by the Syrian regime and its Russian backers. Turkey has military observation post in the province, and has called an assault on Idlib a red line. Its border has been closed and instead a senior Turkish official says his government is pouring millions of dollars into swelling refugee camps.

(INAUDIBLE) is just saying that he remembers there were just a few tents here and the rest of it was just the olive groves. And now, you take a look and it just has such an aura of permanence through it all. The Rolling Hills, a stone (INAUDIBLE) in the Turkish border have been transformed into a sea of homes of lost souls. From Aleppo, (INAUDIBLE) and elsewhere. Idlib's population has doubled in recent years as more Syrians arrived. It's also rare as other parts of the country all back into government control, the regime relocated residents and rebel fighters. For those here, normal and home have been irreversibly re-defined.

We can't go back, ever, Mustafa (INAUDIBLE) says. He doesn't trust the Assad regime. And with nowhere left to go, many feels like they're just waiting for their death sentence. Arwa Damon, CNN, Idlib.


ALLEN: That is so unbelievably sad. We thank you, Arwa Damon, for that report. Well another powerful earthquake is rattling some already jittery nerves in Indonesia. A 6.9 magnitude quake struck on Sunday sending people running from buildings on Lombok, that island still reeling, from a devastating that killed more than 430 people just two weeks ago. Two other tremors shook the South Pacific Sunday, but fortunately, there are no reports of major damage or injuries.

CNN has learned Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer could face criminal charges soon. A CNN source says, federal prosecutors are preparing to charge Michael Cohen by month's end. According to source, charges stem from $20 million in loans Cohen obtained for his family's business. He has been under investigation for bank fraud, tax fraud, and campaign finance violations relating to hush money paid to women with whom Donald Trump allegedly affairs.

Meanwhile, another Trump attorney was on the hot seat. White House Counsel Don McGahn spoke extensively with Special Counsel Robert Mueller three times. A source tells CNN, McGahn's attorney did not fully brief the White House on what was said in those interviews. As Ryan Nobles reports for us, that could mean trouble for Donald Trump.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president and his legal team spent a lot of time over the weekend, trying to convince the American people that these conversations or these series of conversations that Don McGahn had with the special counsel was actually good for their legal defense as it relates to the Russia probe. Listen to the president's chief legal spokesman Rudy Giuliani discuss this particular topic.

[01:10:13] RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: We have a good sense, obviously, of what Mr. McGahn testified. Two, I can figure it out from --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you say that good sense. Have you debriefed them?

GIULIANI: No. But Mr. Dowd has a good sense of it. He talked to them at the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you don't know what Mr. McGahn -- you don't know 100 percent of what he testified to, Mr. Mueller?

GIULIANI: I think that through John Dowd we have a pretty good sense of it. And John Dowd, yesterday said, I'll use his words rather than mine, that McGahn was a strong witness for the president. So, I don't need to need to know much more about that.

NOBLES: Now, even though Mayor Giuliani contends that they have a good handle on exactly what Don McGahn said to the special counsel. There is another New York Times report that says exactly the opposite. That the White House and the president's legal team was not prepared for the voluminous amount of information that Don McGahn potentially could've given to the special counsel, and that he's not been fully debriefed outside of a very short list of notes that was provided by Don McGahn's personal attorney to be effective exactly what he talked about. And that could be the problem for the White House.

McGahn and his legal team have said repeatedly that they've been honest, and there are few people who know as much about exactly what the president's been up to over the past year and a half as it relates to the Russia probe than Don McGahn. So, the big question is, what did the special counsel learn and how could that impact their investigation? That's an answer we may not have for several weeks to come. Ryan Noble, CNN, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.


ALLEN: Daniel Lippman joins me from Washington. He is the co-author of the Daily Newsletter, "Politico Playbook." Thanks for being with us, Daniel.

DANIEL LIPPMAN, AUTHOR: Thank you, Natalie.

ALLEN: Well, we've not learned that longtime Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, may be charged with bank fraud by the end of the month. That is soon. What does this indicate about weather Cohen is cooperating with the Mueller team about issues that could involve the Trump campaign.

LIPPMAN: Yes, I think this big question has been what are the charges that he's going to get indicted with. And so, this $20 million worth of loans that he and his family got for their businesses, that's serious stuff. And so, he's given lots of indications about that he wants to cooperate. He used to be the guy that would say he would take a bullet for Trump. But now, he seems to be willing to put his family first. Tonight, I broke in Politico that Michael Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis is talking regularly with John Dean who is the White House Counsel monitor under President Nixon who cooperated and help seal Nixon's downfall. And so, there's kind of a parallel track here.

ALLEN: Right. I was going to ask you to connect the dots on that one but you just did, and that is something that we'll be watching as well. The Trump team at the White House said they allowed McGahn to talk to the Mueller team because there's no there, there. Because the president (INAUDIBLE) wrong. McGahn have cleared the air on that. But McGahn talked for 30 hours. And we've learned now that it appears the White House is in the dark about what he said. Why would that be?

LIPPMAN: Yes, Trump's initial criminal defense lawyers who he hired including John Dowd. They were way too trusting of Mueller's team. They thought let's be as open as cooperative as possible and they helped deliver a million plus documents to Mueller's team and they let Don McGahn testify and be a crucial witness, and they almost laid a guide book to everything that Trump was thinking. And so, their willful ignorance or there are just belief that Trump didn't do anything wrong made it harder for Donald Trump to protect himself if in fact he gets charged eventually.

And Don McGahn was worried about his own legal liability. He thought that the only way that he could protect himself, not the president was to talk to Mueller. And they thought that he would serve the president more than he did the office. But they really forgot that the White House counsel represents the presidency and not the president. And so, they can come out and to back confused when thinking that all the lawyers who worked for Trump are -- they're going to just protect him, that's not the case.

[01:14:50] ALLEN: Right. And the president's current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani was talking about to begin testimony. And he says Mueller's team in time is trying to trap Donald Trump into talking so they could perhaps get him on perjury.

Chuck Todd on meet the press Sunday ask him about this. And the question turned into a mouth-dropping definition of truth by Mr. Giuliani. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GIULIANI: I'm not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets strapped into perjury. And when you tell me that -- you know, he should testify because he's going, to tell the truth -- that he shouldn't worry.

Well that's so silly because if somebody's version of the truth, not the truth, he didn't have a conversation about --

CHUCK TODD, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Truth is truth. I don't need to go like I --

GIULIANI: No, it isn't truth. Truth isn't truth. The President of the United State says I didn't --

TODD: Truth is a truth. Mr. Mayor, do you realize what I -- this is going to be a bad meme.

GIULIANI: No. No, no, don't do that -- don't do this to me.


ALLEN: Well, truth is the truth. That sounds like semantics on speed there. Could you decide for what Giuliani meant?

LIPPMAN: It's very hard for anyone is talked to Giuliani, and I've interviewed him in the past. For him, for us to understand what he is saying, this kind of will go down in history is one of those great lines that seems like a turn in 1984 that novel.

You know, if Trump didn't do anything wrong, he should just testify, say exactly what was in his mind but the fact that Rudy Giuliani doesn't want him to testify to Mueller and cooperate, indicates that there may be something there because I think Don McGahn as we talked about earlier, he was talking about the --

What was in the President's head when he fired Comey when he asked Comey to drop any investigation to Michael Flynn, and then, Rudy's latest statement is leaving a lot of people bewildered? They think maybe he should go back to the Hamptons that resort near New York City where a lot of the elite spend their summers instead of going on Sunday news shows to embarrass himself.

ALLEN: Right, he does seem to walk back some of the things he says, we'll see about this one. Daniel Lippmann, we really appreciate your time. Co-author of the daily newsletter political playbook. Thanks for joining us.

LIPPMAN: Thanks, Natalie.

ALLEN: Historic floods in South West India leave behind widespread destruction and a massive recovery challenge. But first, crews are racing to help thousands still stranded. We'll have a report for you next.

Plus, anguish and uncertainty in Venezuela. Many fear a new economic plan puts backfire and destroy what's left of an economy already in shambles.


[01:20:10] VINCE CELLINI, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm Vince Cellini with your CNN "WORLD SPORT HEADLINES". We start in the Premier League where Manchester City played host to Huddersfield in a game that quickly got out of hand.

Although the citizens without star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, they were able to handle easily Huddersfield than a 6-1 thrashing man of the match for Man City. Argentine Sergio Aguero, who scored a hat- trick for the defending champions, Gabriele de Jesus and David Silva also getting on the scoreboard.

Over to the other Manchester Club, a shocking result for manager Jose Mourinho's Red Devils who are away to Brighton and Brighton quickly went up 2-0. Glenn Murray opened up the scoring in the 25th minute.

Two minutes later, Shane Duffy doubled the lead. Romelu Lukaku grabbed one back in the 34th minute which just before the half, Pascal Grob scored giving Brighton a 3-1 lead. And Brighton able to hold on at the end, 3-2, the final score.

Finally, over to Spanish La Liga where Real started their domestic quest in the post-Cristiano Ronaldo-era as they hosted had a topic. No problems for Los Blancos, they were able to defeat them, 2-0. Dani Carvajal opened the scoring in the 20th minute, heading the ball over the keeper for a clean-up goal.

And then, in the 51st minute, Gareth Bale doubled the lead and that's how it finished, 2-0, Los Blancos. And that is a look at your sports headlines, I'm Vince Cellini.

ALLEN: Look at this. You're seeing a child being rescued by helicopter into Indian State of Kerala. Water levels are slowly receding in the worse flood there in nearly a century. But, the threat is not over.

Thousands of people remain trapped or stranded. The death toll has increased to 391 since the monsoon season began in May. And officials fear there could be an outbreak of disease among the more than 800,000 people staying in shelters. The recovery ahead could be overwhelming for this date and its 33 million people, at a lot of people to try to get back to their daily lives. How will they do that?

Let's go to our Alexandra Field. She's followed the story for us from Hong Kong. Quite an undertaking for India in this area.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A massive effort truly, Natalie. And so much damage and devastation. You're talking about those hundreds of thousands of people who have packed into shelters and so many more who are also displaced from their homes with hundreds of thousands of homes in this region severely damaged.

They also need supplies, they need food, they need water, they need medicine, but the priority right now, the focus really right now is on finishing the rescue efforts that's something that officials hope they can wrap up today.

That means finding people who still have stranded on rooftops, marooned, or isolated in buildings that are still submerged by all that water that came so quickly.


FIELD: Rescuers can only reach the most desperate by boat and by air. People left stranded by raging waters by the thousands.

CHRISTOPHER JOSEPH, FLOOD VICTIM: No houses left here, no houses left here. Almost all the houses are flooded. It's currently four feet flood has come down in this particular place. And when we get inside, still you can't walk. You need a boat or something like that.

FIELD: Emergency workers among them, the Indian Air Force, and the National Disaster Response Force must navigate the washed out roads to deliver supplies, a hand -- any help they can give.

DHARAMBIR SINGH, ASSISTANT COMMANDANT, NATIONAL DISASTER RESPONSE FORCE: On the day we were deployed here, and -- the situation was very horrifying. Almost 10 feet to six feet and you can find water everywhere. There are water what I will do anything else.

And but, today if we speak, the water is depleting. The water level is coming down and down. But the main work will start now.

FIELD: The Indian State of Kerala is now a disaster zone. Food is airdrop to those who can't be reached, the injured and traumatized taken to hospitals. Days of deadly landslides and flash floods brought devastation worse than any they've seen before, even here.

The thing is, right now, the flood which we are experiencing right now is horrible. We never had such a chaos situation. Every flat, every house is filled in the water.

FIELD: Hundreds of thousands have reached shelters are still in need. The thing is, there's no toilet over here, OK? There's nothing -- not -- no sanitation, basic sanitation thing over here. There's no drinking water over here. We have no drinking water, the water issue is the primary -- that's also a primary concern.

FIELD: Every year, millions of tourists visit Kerala drawn by its rivers, its natural beauty. Its natural disaster has now claimed hundreds of lives.


[01:25:00] FIELD: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also went to survey the damage. Officials in India say there are nearly $3 billion worth of damage from those flash floods already. They freed up about $70 million worth of resources that will help provide some of the immediate relief that people need the most.

Again, things like food, medicine, and clean water. This is, of course, an area that is prone to flooding. It does have a monsoon season but when you hear these stories from these people, they truly say it is unlike anything they've ever seen before.

Natalie, we heard from some people who say, but the entire first floor of their apartment filled up with water in the space of just an hour, truly something incredible, and just truly devastating for this area.

ALLEN: Absolutely. Has anyone added at the financial loss? And I'm also wondering Alex, 800,000 in shelters. Any idea of when they'll be able to try and go back home?

FIELD: This is going to be an extremely long cleanup process. When you see those images, you see so many roads are simply submerged and that's why you've got to reach these people by helicopter and by boat.

You do have those 800,000 people who are in shelters, but officials are still trying to tally up how many people could be displaced from their homes. They have said that hundreds of thousands of homes have been damaged.

But more than that, there are people in more than that number of homes who, of course, had to evacuate. Absolute waters will rise and see do have more people will, of course, be staying in other places perhaps with family or friends.

This will be a lengthy process not just to rebuild and repair, but also to get people things that they need right now while they are displaced from their homes.

We're talking about a huge effort for cleanup, a huge disruption to people's lives, and certainly a tremendous need for resources there now, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, yes, it's going to take a while. Thank you so much, Alex Field for us in Hong Kong.

Afghanistan has offered an olive branch to the Taliban. How the militants are reacting their proposed ceased fire? We'll have that when we come back here.



We appreciate you joining us. I'm Natalie Allen.

Here are our top stories this hour.

Eighty-nine South Koreans are now in North Korea for brief reunions with relatives they have not seen in decades -- we're talking some 70 years. Can you imagine? Thousands of families were separated by the Korean War in 1950 and many have had little or no contact since. They are adopted.

Monday marks an economic milestone for Greece. The country is emerging from three bailouts after a nearly nine-year debt crisis and painful austerity measures. Public debt is still the highest in the Eurozone but the economy has started to grow, unemployment is coming down and tourism is strong.

A British woman is safe on dry land after -- get this -- spending a long night in the Adriatic Sea. She says she fell off the back of a cruise ship and tread water for close to 10 hours -- that's some good treading. She was rescued by the Croatian Coast Guard. No word on how she fell off the ship.

Venezuela's economic and humanitarian crisis could soon become even more devastating. New economic measures announced by President Nicolas Maduro are set to begin in a few hours. And many Venezuelans rushed to supermarkets over the weekend because they are nervous it could get even harder to find and afford food and other basic necessities. Meantime Venezuelan refugees face more backlash as they try to flee to other Latin American countries.

For more about this part of the story, here is CNN's Rafael Romo.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The constant stream of refugees out of Venezuela is putting a lot of pressure on neighboring countries. Let's take, for example, the border town of Pacaraima in Brazil where a mob attacked a group of Venezuelan immigrants over the weekend.

They also destroyed a camp where the immigrants were staying setting their belongings on fire. This attack prompted a group of about 1,200 Venezuelan refugees to rush back into their own country.

Last week, two other countries in the region announced restrictive measures affecting Venezuelan nationals. Ecuadorian officials said Venezuelan migrants will have to show their passport and not just an I.D. before being allowed to enter its territory although we noticed the new rule wasn't being enforced, that immigrants were still crossing into Ecuador.

Peru announced Friday, it will do the same. Some immigrants say they were taken by surprise by the new measures as they were traveling in Colombia on their way to Ecuador and Peru.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were already on our way here when they started asking us to show our passports because they were no longer going to accept ND and ID card. That's why we're so worried. Many of us may spend the night here waiting for an answer.

ROMO: Meanwhile, Venezuelans at home are bracing for the effects of new economic measures announced Friday by President Nicolas Maduro that are supposed to go into effect Monday.

First of all, the president decreed a 60-fold increase on the minimum wage. Employers don't know if they will have enough money to pay employees although Maduro says the government will provide assistance for 90 days.

Also Monday, the government is removing five zeros from the Venezuelan currency dropping its value by more than 90 percent. Many merchants closed their doors over the weekend unable to understand how to change prices to reflect the new currency while shoppers rushed to supermarkets and gas stations that remained open.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Venezuela's inflation may hit one million percent by the end of the year.

Rafael Romo, CNN -- Atlanta.


ALLEN: Jennifer McCoy joins me now to talk more about it. She is a distinguished university professor of political science at Georgia State University here in Atlanta. Thanks for being with us -- Jennifer.


ALLEN: Let me ask you first, it is hard to fathom the situation in Venezuela getting any worse. And now we learn that Nicolas Maduro is going to print new currency, lop off some zeros because its other currency is just about worthless because he was overprinting to try to fight inflation.

How desperate is this plan?

MCCOY: Well, a lot of people are confused by the plan. So we're not exactly sure how it is going to work out. But I think that right now, the people in Venezuela are very anxious and trying to -- you know they've been trying to their money out of banks, what little they have, before it gets devalued even more because after tomorrow, if you had savings in the bank you would be getting out an equivalent of about 4 percent of what you had previously. So it's a huge deal for them.

ALLEN: Right. Here is another example of the confusion. Shop owners don't want to open their doors because they don't know what to charge. They also don't know if people are going to come in because they may not have any money to buy.

[01:35:04] Plus Maduro is now saying he is increasing minimum wage -- what is it -- 60-fold? So how can they even pay their employees? And really again, it is all the citizens that are struggling in this.

MCCOY: They really are struggling. And you know, lopping off the zeros helps because before it what they called the wheelbarrow money. You had to bring in so much -- a wheelbarrow full of money.

But it is hard for people to even get cash because the government has not had the funds to buy the paper to print enough of that old worthless currency. So we will see if this improves it.

Paying the new minimum salary -- Maduro says he's going to help small businesses, pay it for the next three months. But what happens after that is another question. ALLEN: Right. Meantime more Venezuelans are trying to just get out. And now they are being blocked by other countries -- Brazil, Peru, even Ecuador is requiring passports. So this puts the poor citizens in a terrible quagmire. They're kind of trapped. They're getting trapped.

MCCOY: They certainly are. And there are people at the borders in Ecuador and in Peru. The requirement for a passport may not seem like a big deal but the problem is people have not been able to get passports in Venezuela. There've been long lines for them.

And the government hasn't -- again had the money to actually buy the paper for the passports. And so there is a long, long wait for them.

So if they can't get into other countries, they are stuck on the borders. People have been traveling, walking, taking buses for days and weeks. And now they are just stuck overnight.

ALLEN: So, is there any reasonable way out of this economic disaster for Nicolas Maduro. The United States has had a hands-off policy. They've encouraged other countries to isolate him. What next for him as far as any move moves he has other than what he's doing now? Anything?

MCCOY: Well, you know, people have been waiting for five years since he was elected for him to take some real economic policy changes. He seems to be doing that now. But it's very anxiety-producing. This new currency is going to be based on something completely new -- what he's calling the petro which is a crypto currency based on the price of oil with oil backing it up. This is the first time this has been done in the world.

Other than that, the financial sanctions that the United States and other countries have on him are waiting, the requirement to lift them is that he improve the human rights abuses and the democratic situation and have free and fair elections. So far he's not been going to do that.

ALLEN: That certainly would be a goodwill move that would get the attention of the world. But you are right, that is not happening.

We appreciate you joining us so much, Professor Jennifer McCoy of Georgia State -- thank you. >

MCCOY: Thank you.

ALLEN: There are signs a ceasefire could be getting underway in Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani announced a deal on Sunday to mark the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday. If the Taliban agrees the truce could last three months.

It's still not clear how the militant group will react. They have not formally accepted but say they will release hundreds of prisoners for the holiday.

Last week, the Taliban was sending a very different message. Their failed offensive on the city of Ghazni reportedly killed hundreds of people.

For a look at the terms of the ceasefire and whether the Taliban will accept, let's go to CNN's Ivan Watson. He joins me now, live from Hong Kong.

It's remarkable we're talking about a three-month truce, and that certainly would be welcome for so many people in Afghanistan.


It's a dramatic offer from the Afghan President after what has been the deadliest first six months of the year for civilians in Afghanistan in a decade. So Ashraf Ghani, the president published a series of tweets announcing quote, "We announce a ceasefire that would take effect from tomorrow, Monday, the day of Arafat until the day of the birth of the Prophet Milad un Nabi provided that the Taliban reciprocates." That's important.

But also that holiday is roughly November 20th through November 21st. So he is proposing a three-month ceasefire.

He goes on to write quote, "We call in the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long lasting and real peace and we urge them to get ready for peace talks based on Islamic values and principles."

Now this has been embraced by the Secretary General of NATO, by the Pakistani foreign ministry and by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who went on in a statement to say quote, "We remain ready to support, facilitate, and participate in direct negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban." That is a statement from the U.S. Secretary of State that came out in the aftermath of the Afghan government ceasefire -- Natalie.

[01:39:59] So the question is, how will the Taliban respond to this proposal? Well they put out on Sunday, roughly the same time that Ashraf Ghani put out his proposal their own lengthy statement in conjunction with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and it talked about celebrating what the Taliban claimed were big successes on the battlefield against the Afghan government and the U.S. government.

It made no mention of a ceasefire proposal which perhaps the Taliban had not heard about it yet. And went on to saying quote, "Since the ongoing war in Afghanistan is the birth child of American occupation, therefore we have and continue to insist on direct talks with America to bring it to an end."

So again, we are waiting to hear whether or not the Taliban would be open to this three-month ceasefire proposal. There was a brief ceasefire, Natalie, back in June at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Taliban have also announced that they plan to release hundreds of prisoners on Monday in conjunction with this Muslim holiday.

And we'll just keep you up to date if we learn about anything further -- Natalie.

ALLEN: It sounds hopeful, but just to reiterate again, Mike Pompeo has said that he would like to see dialogue, like to see talks. And now you have the Taliban saying well, they want that too. That sounds encouraging doesn't it?

WATSON: Yes. The Taliban -- and there have been reports that U.S. diplomats and the Taliban met in Qatar, in Doha at the end of July for negotiations. The key issue though is the killing, you know.

The Afghan capital had a terrible week last week with a number of brutal and deadly attacks. This month you had the Taliban sweep into the city of Ghazni which is quite close to Kabul. This has hurt morale deeply in places like Kabul, both the loss of life and the setbacks that the Afghan government security forces have faced on a number of different fronts around the country.

And there are some analysts who would argue that the Taliban is gaining ground and according to U.S. military figures, they control or dispute at least 35 percent of Afghan population centers right now -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. We will wait to see what happens next. Ivan Watson following it for us. Ivan -- thank you.

A top Iranian official says his country might be ready to make a deal with President Trump but there are conditions. CNN's exclusive interview with Iran's foreign minister -- that's coming next.

Plus, a post MeToo Kevin Spacey movie appears in U.S. theaters and the box office sales speak for themselves. We'll tell you what they are.


ALLEN: Despite suffering from renewed sanctions, Iran is still rejecting U.S. President Donald Trump's offer of direct talks after he pulled out the nuclear deal.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more from Tehran now after his exclusive interview with Iran's foreign minister.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Foreign minister Zarif very much investing a lot of himself in both the extraordinary detail of that nuclear agreement and the political act of persuasion. It took I think a month for parts of conservative Iran to get the government to go along with the principle of this kind of intense diplomacy with the West.

But that kind of diplomacy now under the Trump administration that tore that deal up so quickly does seem pretty farfetched. Here's what he had to say.

Would you possibly see any merit in President Rouhani and President Trump having a one-on-one meeting and see what progress that could possibly make.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Not when the previous huge progress that we made is simply thrown out.

WALSH: You come back to that deal again because they have torn it up. You've got two or six years until it gets --

ZARIF: It is the litmus test. The litmus test of whether we can trust the United States or not. It was not an easy political decision for the Iranian government and for me personally and for President Rouhani to sit down with the Secretary of State.

WALSH: You took a bit of a personal hit then, didn't you?

ZARIF: Well, that is what -- that's what diplomats are for. Part of our salary is we get personal hits.

I believe there is a disease in the United States. And that is the addiction to sanctions.

WALSH: If you felt the U.S. was addicted to sanctions though, why did you go ahead with the deal?

ZARIF: That may have been one of the mistakes. But the problem was that we felt that the United States had learned that this as far as Iran is concerned, sanctions do produce economic hardship but do not produce the political outcomes that they intended them to produce. And I thought that the Americans had learned that lesson. Unfortunately I was wrong.

WALSH: So here we go in the opposite direction. You talk about trying to revisit that nuclear deal but it is quite clear that Donald Trump has no interest in doing that.

ZARIF: We do not want to revisit that nuclear deal. We want the United States to implement that nuclear deal. Today the closest U.S. allies are resisting those sanctions. The U.S. basically arm twisting its attempt to put pressure. I don't want to use the term "bullying".

WALSH: You don't want to use the term "bullying" but that's what --

ZARIF: That's what it amounts to. Bullying --

WALSH: But is it coming to it, do you think. The European allies, are they --

ZARIF: I think everybody looks at it that way.

WALSH: Is November going to hurt just for clarity here -- you are going to have another wave of U.S. sanctions against the oil industry. Is that going to take a toll on you?


ZARIF: The U.S. -- the U.S. sanctions have always hurt. What is hurting though, is people who want to buy medicine, people who want to buy food. The economic upheaval that you see right now in Iran is because of the measures that needed to be taken to be prepared for those days. So we are prepared for the worst case scenario.

WALSH: Could you ever get a deal with Donald Trump?

ZARIF: Well, it depends on President Trump whether he wants to make us believe that he is a reliable partner. Now, if we spent time with him and he finds another agreement, how long would it last? Until the end of his administration? Until he departs from the place where he put his signature on the agreement?

WALSH: Make no mistake though, certainly tough months ahead here.

[01:49:51] It is hard to work out really if the economic problems Iran is experiencing is, as you heard there from Mr. Zarif because of U.S. sanctions and things Iran's had to do to repair for worse U.S. economic measures; or as the U.S. says because of corruption, economic mismanagement here that have put the country in turmoil for quite some time. We'll find that out in the months ahead.

What is pretty clear though is the idea of renewed talks between the Trump administration and Tehran seem pretty remote for now. Mr. Zarif really, I think I got the feeling, holding out with the belief that the European allies of Donald Trump will eventually persuade him to kind of come back to reality, as it were and sign back on to that intricately crafted nuclear deal.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN -- Tehran.


ALLEN: Still to come -- Hollywood is getting a lot more "Crazy Rich Asians", and the new movie is raking in some crazy money. We'll tell you about it next.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good Monday morning to you. I'm meteorologist Pedram Javaheri watching what's happening across North America right now.

The showers being the story across the eastern half of the U.S. mainly from the north where milder air beginning to filter in towards the south where showers are going to at least begin much of the work (ph) across the region. And notice certainly some localized flooding possible across the Carolinas, across the regions of the Great Lakes there not far from Chicago where thunderstorms are expected at 26 degrees.

Vancouver, B.C. soars up to 27, certainly could be hazy at times with partly cloudy skies expected there. In San Francisco not too bad at 21 degrees but you notice a hint of autumn certainly in the forecast here, at least the first sign of it across parts of the Midwestern U.S. where St. Louis of the world, the Chicagos of the world dropping down to 24 degrees. You certainly feel a little bit of Christmas in the air. While back towards the northwest it still the heart of summer, it feels like it towards much of this week. Notice Thursday maybe even into Friday Portland and Seattle we'll see if finally some cooling in store in that region.

Belize City around 29 degrees, Managua comes in at 33, Mexico City returning into the thunderstorm pattern about 22 degrees is what we expect, San Juan into Puerto Rico remains sunny and temps just a hair above 30 degrees there.

Farther towards the south we go in Paranam, expecting highs to be generally into the 30s. You want a little chillier air, head up into the mountains of higher elevations in areas around La Paz, highs around 12.

ALLEN: We could be seeing the first MeToo snub at the box office. Disgraced actor Kevin Spacey's new film "Billionaire Boys Club" took in a total $126 opening night. You heard it, just $126. The film opened Friday in a few select U.S. cities.

In 2017, an actor accused Spacey of assaulting him when he was just 14. Spacey issued a statement saying he didn't recall that.

[01:55:00] Then a CNN investigation revealed more allegations of sexual misconduct on the "House of Cards" set. Since then Spacey effectively been blackballed by Hollywood and now perhaps the numbers maybe proving that.

Well, U.S. audiences have fallen in love with another film, the glitz and glamour of Singapore.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been dating for over a year now and I think it is about time people met my beautiful girlfriend.

What about us taking an adventure?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Singapore, Colin's wedding. Don't you want to meet my family?


ALLEN: The romantic comedy "Crazy Rich Asians" got the top spot at the box office in its opening weekend earning $34 million over five days beating all expectations.

One analyst says it is proof that diversity can be good for business in Hollywood. Perhaps we have finally gotten there.

Thanks so much for watching. I'm Natalie Allen.

Another hour of CNN NEWSROOM is coming up with my colleagues Rosemary Church and George Howell. You're watching CNN.


[02:00:09] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Families divided long ago by the Korean War are moments away from getting --