Return to Transcripts main page


G7 Summit Wraps Up; Israeli Politics; President Joe Biden Attends NATO Summit In Brussels; Biden And Putin Prepare For High- Stakes Meeting. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired June 13, 2021 - 11:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello to everyone watching from around the world. I'm Hala Gorani. We're coming to you live from Cornwall, England and you are watching our special coverage of the G7 Summit. We've seen a flurry of news conferences just in the past couple of hours as leaders wrapped up three busy days of meetings.

They put their personal spins on discussions on all the issues that were addressed, including climate change relations with China, the coronavirus pandemic, whether or not there was a row between the UK and France over in Northern Ireland.

The American President Joe Biden took his turn a short time ago, before heading off to Windsor Castle for a meeting with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, he suggested that he accomplished his goal of restoring American leadership in the world and said he was pleased with the summit's accomplishments.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've just wrapped up what has been an extraordinary collaborative and productive meeting the G7. Everyone at the table understood and understands both the seriousness and the challenges that we are against, and the responsibility of our proud democracies to step up and deliver for the rest of the world.


GORANI: Well, G7 leaders made a promise to some of the world's poorest countries. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said they'd pledged to donate a billion COVID vaccine doses. They also called for a new study into the origins of the Coronavirus. An initial report was deemed lacking because China refused to cooperate, did it come from a market, did it leak from a lab? That's still very much an open question.

Let's go right to CNN International diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson. He's in Carbis Bay, England for perspective, and Joe Biden was keen to highlight the fact that there was cooperation that there was harmony, but mostly that America was back and that in his words. This is essentially a contest with autocracies. The G7 meeting and the world's leading democracies and richest countries are coming together in this day and age during this time in history, so that the 21st century is not dominated by autocratic regimes.

And this is something that seems to sort of underpin a lot of what the U.S. president has wanted to include in the final communique and underline in terms of his discussions with G7 allies.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, and as you were saying, Hala, this is -- we're in a period of a flurry of press conferences, and I was just listening to Emmanuel Macron, the French president, and really some of the points that he's -- that he raised there. Absolutely, in that vein, to the point that President Biden was trying to make that and wanted to make coming here that America was back, that America was changed. This is no longer President Trump.

Emmanuel Macron kind of laid out without mentioning President Trump, some difficulties over the past four years for countries like Germany and France and the European Union, and others to manage to sort of keep the democratic message alive, and to keep it going and to keep that flame going.

And he said that President Biden had faced, he said here, some lengthy questioning, if that's how he put it about the United States and the United States intent, but that he now believed that President Biden and the United States was back, that it was a genuine partner. And on that point about protecting democracies, you know, he said, this model of international, modern democracy is at risk.

So I think in that context, as well, President Biden, his message has landed there, you know, isn't only president Macron who is saying this. We've heard Prime Minister Boris Johnson say that as well. And I'm sure some of the other leaders will say that in their press conferences.

But yes, I think that goal of Biden to get that message, it's a new United States under me, and we're back and coming into this. I think Emmanuel Macron was one of those who said, we're going to have to ask some tough questions and see what the answers are. We know Emmanuel Macron is saying, we've asked those questions, and we're happy with the answers.

So yes, this is the America we can deal with. This is the one that we want, even though they know this may not last longer than potentially four years. So Biden's message there has landed I think Hala.


GORANI: Yes, and what's interesting is that the world is looking at America as well concerned, in some cases about the democratic process there. In the coming years, there is some unease in European capitals about whether or not the Joe Biden presidency might be a blip in a in a in a longer period of sort of Donald Trump, like populist figures that this is just as fragile this American commitment to multilateral institutions, perhaps as fragile as, you know, in a sense that it could unravel with depending on who is in the White House. Let's talk a little bit about what the U.S. president said about Putin. He said Putin is right that relations are at a low point with the United States. And essentially, it's down to his own behavior. What should we expect from this meeting between the two men on Wednesday in Geneva?

ROBERTSON: Well, Biden was sort of pushed a few times to try to give an outline of what he was going to say and what he wanted, and why there wouldn't be a joint press conference afterwards. And, you know, he kept coming back to that same point is under the saddle alone on this trip, that he has a message that he's going to give to -- that he wants to give to President Putin. And he's going to give it behind closed doors.

And it's not about scoring points. But it's about making very clear that actions that emanate from Russia, whether they're state sanctioned or happening with a blind eye turned by the state are going to have consequences if there are actions that involve in or involved in meddling with the U.S. elections, that are involved with ransomware cyber type attacks on key and vital infrastructure in the United States that there will be repercussions. So he laid that out.

But he also laid out a little bit, he said, I'm not going to get into how I'm, you know, how I'm going to negotiate this, or how I'm going to talk to lay out my points with President Putin. But he did kind of give that idea that Putin might want something from the United States like help in getting out of what are relatively intractable in military engagements in Syria. And in Libya, he seemed to imply that President Putin's economy at home is not doing well. And those conflicts are costly for President Putin. And therefore, he might need the support of Gulf states.

He didn't say Gulf states, but the implication when you're talking about the Middle East there is that money for humanitarian rebuilding, and the type of effort that gets militaries disengaged from conflict, that might be forthcoming in the United States could potentially be involved in that that seemed to be the direction that he was headed in there.

But I think, what does he want out of it? It is that stable, predictable relationship with Russia, where if Russia takes an action that's not in the U.S. national security interest, there will be consequences. Now that's been framed in terms of cyber and election meddling and things like that.

What's unclear is what he may say to President Putin about troop buildups on the border of Ukraine, because United States values Ukraine, and its independence from Russia. And Russia has said until now, it's up to us what we do with our troops and where we put them. There are clearly huge curve asses between the positions of these two leaders. And I don't think Biden was in any way hinting that is going to be able to put bridges across them at this stage.

GORANI: All right, thanks very much, Nic Robertson. Let's bring in Ian Bremmer in New York for more on all of this. He's a political scientist, who's the president of the Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. Thanks for joining us, Ian.

So Joe Biden started his news conference in new key Cornwall by saying America is back at the table in the business of leading the world with nations who share our values. Obviously, this is after four years of Donald Trump. So it is a very different president. Is the U.S. president is his enthusiasm in terms of multilateral -- multilateralism and cooperation with like-minded countries, is it well placed at this stage?

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP AND GZERO MEDIA: It's probably more well placed than not, it's not 100 percent There. The timing is great. The G7 summit is coming on the back of the United States now finally seeing Coronavirus mostly in the rearview mirror. The other G7 countries are behind the U.S. but they're close they're getting there. And that's certainly and with relatively robust economic recoveries and that has allowed for more leadership.

I mean, 1 billion jabs donate from the G7 countries to the developing world is too late. It's too small, but it's by far the biggest show of leadership from any quarter globally since the pandemic actually started.


The coordination on an alternative minimum tax for corporations will take a long time to get approved in the United States ratified as well as by European Parliament's, but it is a level of alignment and coordination and certainly on issues like ransomware and singling out Russia, the G7 completely agrees.

I think this was probably the most aligned multilateral summit that we've seen since the G20 back in April of 2009. And that is actually saying something at a time that we desperately needed.

GORANI: That is saying something because there were some disagreements over China, you had some countries that were including the United States, very much eager to send a message to China, and then others who were perhaps a little more reluctant, Germany, for instance, that has important business ties with Beijing, a little bit less enthusiastic about being as forceful as Joe Biden would have wanted, though Joe Biden did at the news conference say he was overall satisfied with what was included in the communique.

BREMMER: Again, everyone is satisfied. I'd probably give the whole thing and A minus. But you point to one of the two big disagreements inside the summit. The biggest is China. The Americans bipartisan see China as by far the most important competitor of the United States, primarily through a national security lens. The Brits agree mostly with the U.S. the Canadians, the Japanese, the Europeans do not.

They see the Chinese, principally through an economic and commercial lens, soon to be the largest economy in the world. They want to engage much more. The Americans are saying that the era of engagement is over. American private sector people may not be telling saying that, but the foreign policy establishment is. The other big area of concern is between the UK and the EU, specifically on the Northern Ireland, Ireland border issue. But more broadly than that post-Brexit. The UK-EU relationship is poor and getting worse that clearly undermines the G7 as an organization, it weakens the special relationship between the U.S. and the UK as well. Something no one really wants to talk about a lot publicly right now. But it's real and it's likely to get worse.

GORANI: And, of course, the president, the U.S. president is headed to Brussels for a NATO Summit. NATO who he said during this news conference today is vital to U.S. security, a very different messaging than we heard from Donald Trump during his four years in office and then that sit down with Vladimir Putin. First NATO, what difference fundamentally does it make that Joe Biden is U.S. president, when it comes to that organization?

BREMMER: It matters a little bit less than you think in the sense that Trump said that NATO was obsolete when he ran for president, it's one of the only things that he admitted he was wrong about said no, I listened to my generals. It's not obsolete.

He kept pushing the Europeans to spend a lot more money in terms of defense contributions, particularly the Germans that have not yet made good on a road to their 2 percent of GDP defense contribution. They're just not close to that. Obama was pushing as well, when he was president. He just wasn't as spiky and undiplomatic about it.

NATO is becoming less relevant as the Chinese become the principal American concern. The Russians less so. To the extent the Americans and Europeans are talking about Russia, things work pretty well, when they start talking more globally, you've got the French talking about strategic autonomy, much more intent on focusing on things like the Middle East, Biden pulling out of Afghanistan.

The NATO allies largely didn't want to pull out of Afghanistan. They're more concerned about the issue. They have more troops there than the Americans do. They take in more casualties. And radical Islamic and terrorist more of a domestic problem inside Europe than it is in the United States.

So you are going to see, I would say some of the same sorts of frictions underneath the surface in NATO. Also, keep in mind that there's a challenging meeting that Biden has to have there, too. That's what Turkish President Edogan and they don't see eye to eye on many things. Of course, the human rights and democracy issue is one that Turkey doesn't seem in any way to be connected with the Americans.

GORANI: Ian Bremmer, as always, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it. And straight ahead, a final plea from Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a crucial vote that could end his tenure as Israeli Prime Minister. We'll be right back.


[11:16:56] GORANI: Well, this could be really be the end of era in Israel. It could be Benjamin Netanyahu's final hours in power as the Prime Minister of that country. A special session of Israel's Parliament the Knesset is underway. A short time ago party leaders addressed Parliament they are set to hold a vote of confidence on a diverse proposed coalition that doesn't have much in common by the way except for its desire to get rid of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The right wing leader Naftali Bennett looks set to become Prime Minister for the first two years. CNN's Hadas Gold is following the latest developments. And she joins me now from the Knesset with more on what to expect in the coming hours. Hadas.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, we just heard from Naftali Bennett, from Yair Lapid and from Benjamin Netanyahu but Naftali Bennett's speech got off to a rough start and was rough throughout. And I think it goes to show the sort of combative environment that this fragile new coalition will be operating in.

As he was trying to give his speech as prime minister designate, there were heckles -- hecklers from the Likud Party, from Netanyahu, his party from other right wing parties shouting, calling him a liar, calling him an embarrassment holding up posters. It got so bad to the point that the speaker who is part of the Likud Party had to actually throw some members of parliament out off of the Parliament floor just because of how disruptive they were being.

Now, Bennett tried to continue with speech at one point, acknowledging the heckler saying that he's proud to be in a democracy where such opposing views could take place that said that such disruptions contributed to the political paralysis of the last two years for elections, two years no functioning government, no state budget, take a list of some of what Naftali Bennett, the potential next prime minister of Israel had to say.

OK, we have Bennett said that two times in their history they -- that they lost their Jewish Home speaking to the temples in Jerusalem. He said precisely because leaders of the previous generations refuse to stay with one another. He said that he's proud to sit with people with opposing opinions. And at this decisive moment, this new government is going to take responsibility, tried to serve everybody in Israel and try to be a functioning government.

He also thanked President Biden for his support of Israel during the conflict last month with Hamas militants in Gaza, saying that this new government will work to deepen bipartisan relationships in the United States, but had a warning against the return to an Iran nuclear deal saying that they will work against it, going to show that though this is a new government, some of the policies will stay the same.

Benjamin Netanyahu also got the opportunity to speak. He went through a laundry list of what he was able to do saying that they are leaving his party is leaving Israel more powerful than when they first came in. But he spent much of his speech attacking Naftali Bennett saying that he will do the opposite of what he has promised, calling him weak and dangerous. And he actually said that the Israeli Prime Minister needs to be able to say no to the American president, listing of the times that he or she said stood up against the American president, excuse me, and he was saying that he was not sure that Naftali Bennett has it in him to stand up against the U.S. president.


He said that he will continue his mission of what he called protecting Israel, but vowed that he will try to topple this new government that he called dangerous. And he had this message in English. Take a listen.




Now, there will be a few more speeches from other party leaders. There will be a debate and a vote on the new speaker of the Parliament. And then which may be in a few hours, we will finally get that confidence vote. And if this new government passes that confidence vote, they will immediately be sworn in and it will be the end of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's longest run as Israeli Prime Minister. Hala.

GORANI: All right, Hadas Gold, thanks very much for some perspective, political analysts. Dahlia Scheindlin joins me now from Tel Aviv. She's also a Fellow at the century Foundation, and has consulted on several national campaigns in Israel. So talk to me, Dahlia, a little bit about what it means for Netanyahu to be out of power, to not be the Prime Minister of Israel anymore.

DAHLIA SCHEINDLIN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he certainly has to get accustomed to it. He's been in power for 12 years. I think during that 12 years, he has come to think of himself. Genuinely, I think in his mind as the only person who can truly run the country, inside the country control the political circus that we saw today, and do all the things regarding Israel's external and foreign relations. I believe that he believes that about himself.

Having said that, Netanyahu has been out of power before he has been an opposition. You know, I was looking at 1999 when he resigned much more gracefully than he resigned today.

Of course, it was a much more decisive loss at the time, and I think he genuinely believes in his, you know, way of thinking about it that he deserved to continue being Prime Minister. There is no question that he is looking at the -- being an opposition, being the head of the opposition as simply a route back into power.

There are many other ways he could have dealt with this. But given his speech today, given, you know, how much he wants to stay in the system inside the political system, it seems like he has taken on Arielle Sharon's mantra, which is sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down in politics, but never get off the wheel. It seems like Netanyahu has learned that lesson.

GORANI: Now here you have a coalition of parties so diverse that you can say they have pretty much nothing in common except their desire to kick Netanyahu out of office, everything from the far-right Naftali Bennett, to the centrist Yair Lapid, to the Arab Israeli Mansour Abbas and all sorts of smaller parties in between.

Presumably they've thought of situations where they will not be able to agree on core and important issues. Can they survive as a coalition of parties only bound together by their desire to oust Netanyahu?

SCHEINDLIN: I've come to think there's something a little bit somewhat shallow about that approach, which is said by many people, not just you that the only thing you're not unifying them is wanting to oust Netanyahu, because Netanyahu has come to stand over 12 years, for a very clear --


SCHEINDLIN: -- form of governance set of policies and ideas. And so I think when they want to oust him, they also want to change direction on --direction of the country on the policies that the country is undertaking. Now, they disagree about how to do it, no question. But I think the first thing where we do see some agreement is a sense that the style of governance needs to change.

Netanyahu has built his entire political, you know, personality on deep division, oftentimes bordering on incitement, if not crossing the line hitting different groups, one against the other, always looking for another internal enemy. And I think that so far, what we're seeing is that these parties have taken a very unified line about how hard they will work to compromise and cooperate. I cannot say whether they'll be successful --

GORANI: Well, they don't have -- do they have a choice. I mean, Dahlia, they don't -- sorry to jump in, they don't have a choice. They're a coalition of very different parties. If they don't cooperate, they'll collapse. The coalition will disintegrate and you'll have another election. But where are the where the policy issues where they agree?

SCHEINDLIN: Yes, I mean, I think that there is some agreement on some of the less controversial issues. So for example, on how to manage the economy, on how to manage, you know, very important ministries, like the health ministry or the environment ministry, even transportation, which went to labor. It is a little controversial, because it has to do with the West Bank, but I think there's more consensus, or at least willingness to come to compromise over those kinds of things.

There may even be some willingness to make changes with relation to religion and state, a very explosive issue that was a core theme of Naftali Bennett's speech dealing with the ultra-orthodox and how they have been outside conscription laws in Israel and trying to modify those slightly.

I think that there is some internal agreement within the coalition on these issues, despite the fact that Naftali Bennett has represented a religious community, but it's different from the ultra-orthodox.


We may see some small incremental changes on that. I don't think we will see any significant change regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because that's where, of course they have the deepest disagreement.

GORANI: So you sound pretty optimistic about this coalition that it can hold.

SCHEINDLIN: I think optimism may be overstating the case of my feelings right now. But I think they have a lot of interest, as you pointed out, in trying to make it work, they have certainly said and forged coalition agreements that involve lots of mechanisms for avoiding the kind of collapse that we saw in the previous government, between Netanyahu and Benny Gantz the two unlikely coalition partners. And that agreement was broken very quickly and very easily. And we're seeing them working hard to put sort of safeguards so that the coalition doesn't collapse that fast.

I think optimism will be going too far. We rarely have governments that last a full term for years in Israel almost never.


SCHEINDLIN: So of course, I don't expect them to last a full term. The question is, will they even last few months. They can make it to six months. I think the whole country will be a little relief.

GORANI: Well, where is Israeli public opinion on this coalition?

SCHEINDLIN: You know, Israeli public opinion is so divided on these issues. What we see is that just below half. According to the few surveys that we've seen, just below half of Israelis prefer this coalition to another election. We're just over a third prefer a fifth election. And the rest don't know because they're, frankly, so confused or possibly alienated from the political system that they're not sure what to do.

And so I think what we see is a plurality, which is all we can hope for in Israeli politics. We rarely have a majority of anything, who prefer to have this situation as imperfect as it is. But I can certainly say that there's no one really wants up at the election for its own sake.

GORANI: All right. Yes, I -- we have not spoken on CNN with anyone. I said that they support the idea of a fifth election. Dahlia Scheindlin, thank you very much. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us. Of course, you have such a long experience in Israeli politics. So your take on this is invaluable. Thank you very much.

U.S. and Russian leaders are holding a high stakes meeting in Geneva next week. We'll preview the upcoming Biden-Putin talks coming up.


GORANI: Welcome back. I'm Hala Gorani. We're coming to you live from Cornwall, England. And you are watching our continuing coverage of the G7 summit, which has just come to an end in the land hour.

With the summit behind him, the U.S. president, Joe Biden, is headed for high-stakes meetings in Europe next weekend. Those include a sit down with Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in Geneva on Wednesday. Mr. Biden played down any expectations today, saying the Russians leader's behavior will not change easily. On his end, Mr. Putin says the relationship with Washington definitely has space for improvement.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You once described President Trump as a bright person, talented. How would you describe President Biden?

PUTIN (through translator): Well, even now, I believe that former U.S. president, Mr. Trump, is an extraordinary individual. Talented individual. Otherwise, he would not have become U.S. president. He's a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And -- but he didn't come from the U.S. establishment. He had not been in part of big-time politics before, and some like it, some don't like it. But that's a fact.

President Biden, of course, is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He's spent virtually his entire adulthoods in politics. Just think of the number of years in the Senate. A different kind of person. And it is my great hope that, yes, there's some advantages, some disadvantages but there will not be any impulse-based movement on behalf of the sitting U.S. president.


GORANI: Well, for more, Matthew Chance joins me now from Geneva, Switzerland.

And we had a -- we got a little bit of sort of an idea of what U.S. president, Joe Biden's, state of mind is before this meeting. He said, Russia had its own problems that maybe there are areas of agreement, maybe, and cooperation regarding Libya, reconstruction of Syria.

When a reporter asked him, why do you think Vladimir Putin has not changed his behavior even though there has been some sanction pressure on Russia? He replied simply, we'll, he's Vladimir Putin.

So, it's going to be interesting to see what happens when the two men meet, Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It is going to be interesting. And I think expectations from the point of view of both sides, they're saying, look, we should keep them as -- just keep them low. The very fact that there's a meeting taking place at all is what the Kremlin is saying, is in itself an achievement.

But make no mistake, this is going to be a full meeting. I mean, there's a list as long as your arm of issues that the two sides fundamentally disagree about, whether it's, you know, hacking and Russia's culpability in, you know, sort of like packing the U.S. democracy and carrying out -- or allowing criminal gangs to carry out ransomware attacks, whether it's the military threat that Russia continues to pose, that's Ukraine, or whether it's the crackdown that Russia is continuing against dissidents and opposition figures at home inside Russia.

These are issues which Joe Biden, the U.S. president, has said he will raise when he's in that face-to-face meeting with President Putin. But, of course, they are all issues as well that, you know, President Putin and the Kremlin have made clear, they're not going to back down on. They've talk about the possibility of, you know, a joint, you know, cooperation when it comes to looking at, you know, cyber- attacks, which President Putin said is problem -- quite rightly, a problem for all the world.

But when it comes to Ukraine, there's not going to be any movement on that. When it comes to, you know, the crackdown on Alexei Navalny whose political organization has just been made illegal then designated as an extremist group inside Russia. The Russians have made quite clear, just a few days ago, I spoke to Dmitry Peskov, the presidential spokesman in Russia. And he said, look, we'll explain the situation with Alexei Navalny to President Biden but we're not going to discuss it.

So, you know, again, I think we need to keep expectation very low indeed about what can actually be achieved in terms of concrete progress in this relationship as a result of this one summit in a few days from now here in Geneva, Switzerland. Hala.

GORANI: Is there any leverage that the U.S. has over Russia at all? I mean, is there anything in the discussion between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin where Joe Biden could, not put pressure, but sort of bring Vladimir Putin closer his position on important issues?

CHANCE: Well, that's a good question. And, of course, the Americans along with much of the rest of the international community have been trying to put pressure on Vladimir Putin for some years now. I mean, I've lost count of the -- a number of sanctions that have been imposed by the United States on Russia for its malign activity around the world. But it's made virtually no difference in terms of Russian policy at all.


And so, you know, leverage, you know, pressure, this is not the kind of leadership in Russia that responds positively or on in the way you'd want it to when it comes to pressure. I mean, what Putin wants is agreement with the United States --

GORANI: Do you want me to --

CHANCE: -- on issues that they can agree to disagree on some things, but they want disagreement on other issues like climate change, on, you know, kind of regional stability, on global stability and things like that. What the opposition in Russia say is deny Putin those kinds of agreements. Deny Putin that kind of cooperation. And that will put pressure on him.

Now, having said that, there are some areas where there could be some compromise. I'm talking about, I think, surface disputes between the two countries. For instance, the two countries don't have ambassadors in each other's countries at the moment. That could change. That could come out of this summit. They could agree to return their ambassadors to Russia and to the United States.

There's another issue as well, which is a sensitive issue, which is that, in Russia, there are a couple of Americans that are being held in Russian prisons. In United States, there are Russian nationals in U.S. prisons as well. You know, that's something that you could also be discussed. But in terms of the substantial issues, I don't think there's going to be any progress.

GORANI: All right. Matthew Chance live in Geneva.

But before that meeting with Mr. Putin in Geneva, President Biden has said to attend the NATO summit in Brussels. That's where CNN's Melissa Bell is with the very latest.

During his news conference here in Cornwall, the U.S. president said, we are back with regards to NATO and said NATO was "vital" to American security. A very different message from the one we heard during the four years of Mr. Trump's presidency.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And I think if that sends that United States was back and multilateralist could welcome that and heave a sigh of relief, and that in the end, that dominated much of the G7, that could change once leaders arrive here for the big summit tomorrow, because there are a number of issues on which they are divided and which could prove more divisive than they have been so far.

For instance, we know that the American president is going to push for China to made a strategic objective of NATO. We know that the French president is absolutely opposed to that. We know also that Emmanuel Macron has spoken of the elephant in the room that we can expect tomorrow, that is Afghanistan. A lot of NATO allies still very upset at the lack of consultation over the American withdrawal and all of the consequences that it had.

Another big issue, of course, is likely to be between some other NATO allies, in particularly the French president and the Turkish president. Really terrible relations, at an all-time low these last few months. They will be meeting ahead of the summit. So, you can expect a lot of disagreements. No doubt a lot more difficulty here in coming to a common understanding. And then perhaps, most fundamentally, Hala, there's the question of what NATO is meant to become. Jens Stoltenberg has his plan to make it by 2030, more ambitious with more common budgets to be able to carry out deterrent activities on common ground but funded communally.

Now, this is something the French president is extremely opposed to. He believes that European money should be headed towards creating a European defense force and European security essentially his big point this last few days has been great.

America is back. But don't forget that in last four years, Europe has grown stronger. It wants its own strategic independence. And so, the irony, perhaps, Hala, is that by the time all the leaders meet in the building behind me tomorrow, the skeptic at the table this time is not going be the American president, but the French.

GORANI: Interesting. Melissa Bell, thanks very much. Live in Brussels.

Quick update on what's happening around the world for you. A gas explosion in China has left at least 12 people dead and scores more wounded. Take a look at these dramatic pictures. The explosion happened early Shiyan City early Sunday morning. China's state media reported that among the 150 people found in the area, 37 were severely injured. The cause of the explosion is still being investigated.

The Copa America Football tournament gets under way in Brazil today. But a day before the event, Brazil reported more than 79,000 new COVID cases and more than 2,000 deaths in just one day. The virus is also reaching some national teams. At least 12 members of the Venezuelan team and staff and four from Bolivia have tested positive. Five Venezuelan players who are now positive will not play in Sunday's opening match against Brazil. Thankfully.

In the Euro 2020, a Danish player who collapsed on the field Saturday is now in stable condition. Officials say Christian Eriksen sent greetings from the hospital to his family and teammates. He collapsed during a game against Finland in Copenhagen. And he is responsive and awake. Thankfully. It was a very scary 20 minutes or so when medics were tending to him on the field.

Just ahead, President Biden and the first lady set to meet with Queen Elizabeth in matter of hours. We understand that Air Force One has now landed in Heathrow. We'll have a lot more on that and the queen's long history of diplomacy with American presidents. Stay with us.



GORANI: President Joe Biden and the first lady are set to take tea with Britain's Queen Elizabeth today. The monarch has met every sitting U.S. president during her nearly seven-decade reign. And this is just moments ago. The U.S. president and the first lady, Jill Biden, landing at Heathrow Airport.

So, Max Foster has a report coming up on what to expect this afternoon.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: The special relationship or dozen special relationships.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, to her majesty, the queen.

FOSTER: Joe Biden is the 12th U.S. president to meet Queen Elizabeth II during her reign. The queen will have met every sitting president during her 69-year reign except Lyndon B. Johnson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were welcomed at the White House by the first lady at the beginning of a memorable visit to the nation.

FOSTER: Starting with the Dwight Eisenhower in 1957, and most recently, Donald Trump, Britain's monarch has seen her share of administrative change. And the conversations invariably remain private.

PRINCE EDWARD, EARL OF WESSEX: People really do respect the fact that this is a genuinely private, off the record conversation. So, they really can talk about things and get to the heart of things in a very genuine fashion because they know it's not going to come out.

FOSTER: Does she ever let slip to you in any way?

EDWARD: Goodness gracious. Of course not. Of course not.

FOSTER: Well-known for their shared love of horses, Elizabeth took President Ronald Reagan horseback riding in Windsor in 1982.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was not expected to happen. So --

FOSTER: His successor, President George H.W. Bush, brought the queen to her first baseball game at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore during a state visit in 1991. Both Reagan and Bush were later given honorary knighthoods. The U.K.'s highest distinction.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I feel greatly honored.

FOSTER: Opportunities to meet the 95-year-old monarch are dwindling. The queen no longer travels abroad. Leaders are expected to come to her. But when they do, the royal family rolls out the red carpet in a regal display of British soft power.

President George W. Bush was first U.S. president to pay an official state visit in 2003, and Bush was the last to host the queen at the White House in 2007.

Pomp and pageantry provide do at times provide awkward moments however, evident when President Trump visited in 2018. He also revealed the topic of their conversation, Brexit, which raised eyebrows too.


His predecessor, President Barack Obama, also committed a faux pas by speaking over the national anthem. Now, it's the turn of Obama's V.P. and current commander in chief to visit Windsor Castle. President Biden will be welcomed by guard of honor before being invited in for tea.

BONNIE GREER, U.S. BRITISH PLAYWRIGHT AND AUTHOR: The future of this special relationship depends ultimately on the American people and the British people. What we understand about each other. Joe Biden is of a generation, that special relationship means something. The queen is certainly.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II: To the continued friendship between our two nations and to the health, prosperity and happiness of the people of the United States.


GORANI: Well, that was Max Foster reporting. Arlette Saenz joins me here now with more on what to expect today.

Is it big deal for the U.S. president and Jill Biden, the first lady, to meet Queen Elizabeth?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's certainly, I think an honor for anyone to sit with Queen Elizabeth, and it's a formal step that you have seen so many presidents really take. And it's one that President Biden has actually done before when he was a senator. He travelled over here to the U.K. in the 1980s where he actually had a chance to meet with her. But this, of course, takes on a higher significance since he is now the sitting U.S. president.

We saw the two of them in a photo. They were exchanging some pleasantries on Friday evening. But it goes back to the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom that you have seen so many presidents come year after year to pay their respects to this woman who has been in power for so long here in the United Kingdom.

GORANI: So, in Cornwall during the G7, there was some disagreement between European countries and the U.K. over Brexit. And we know that the U.S. president, Joe Biden, has made no secret of the fact that he supports the E.U. as an organization, as an institution. I wonder does that have any impact on this "special relationship" between the U.K. and the U.S.?

SAENZ: Well, I think that President Biden is trying to figure out how exactly to navigate both lanes, as you have seen -- as you saw these very clear differences play out over the course of the summit between Boris Johnson and E.U. leaders. But we're going to see President Biden head to Brussels later today, where tomorrow he will be holding meetings with NATO. On Tuesday, he will be holding meetings with the E.U. All trying to point back to the overarching message of his trip that America is back at table with allies.

In his press conference a short while ago, he talked about NATO specifically saying that it's not a protection racket. This comes after if previous administration under President Trump where he tore away at NATO, is very upset with NATO ally countries not paying their fair share. But President Biden has insisted that he does want to have the backs and support of NATO as he sees this as a greater and larger security assistance to the United States.

But really over the past few days, we have just seen the president, you know, glad handing and hugging and embracing all of these allies and they, in turn, were doing that to him as well. And you really got the sense -- you heard, I think it was Johnson described Biden as a breath of fresh air.

GORANI: yes.

SAENZ: He seemed really welcome at this summit as he is trying to bring these allied leaders along, so he can show some type of united front against Russia, against China, even though there were some differences on exactly how to approach China during the summit.

GORANI: And he never mentions him by name but when he says NATO is not a protection racket, what he's doing really is contradicting the previous administration. He's sending that he is not Donald Trump.

SAENZ: Exactly.


SAENZ: And you heard that in the president's press conference, there were a few different moments. At one point, he was talking about how some of the world leaders had said to him that it was refreshing to have a United States president who believes in global warming. He didn't mention President Trump by name --

GORANI: Yes, yes.

SAENZ: -- but that's who he was talking about. He also said that, really, that not only world leaders but that countries, the people in those countries felt the lack of collaboration and presence of the United States during the Trump administration. But President Biden really trying to make clear that he's the new president and trying to ease any concerns that may have been in place after the strained relationships with allies emerge during the Trump administration.

GORANI: And we discussed this before but it is noteworthy. The U.S. president, during this news conference, essentially saying that all of this, everything that we're discussing, every policy measure that we agree on is because this time is an important contest between autocracies, dictatorships and western style democracies. And we need to make sure that democracy and the democratic system win out.


SAENZ: And that's why he came exactly to this summit, why he's going to NATO and E.U. to try to push this message that democracy can work. But, of course, it comes at a time where democratic institutions are back in the United States are under threat and -- as well as around the world.

But President Biden really hoping that he can head into that meeting with the Russian president, in particular, on Wednesday to push this message that democracies will be the ones that prevail. That, yes, there are some competitive differences or competitive complications that autocracies are presenting to the global system.

But ultimately, he believes that democracies and he's hoping his allies will back him up in saying that democracies are what will prevail in the long run.

GORANI: And there is, among allies, concerns even -- about what's going on in the U.S. as well. And by the way, these are live images coming to us, Arlette, from Windsor Castle in England where this ceremony, which is not an official state visit but a ceremony that will include a lot of pomp and circumstance to welcome the U.S. president, Joe Biden, and first lady, Jill Biden. And then, the couple, the presidential couple will be taking tea with Queen Elizabeth.

We'll be right back with a lot more on CNN, including the very latest from Israel.


GORANI: Well, it could be the end of era. In just a few hours in Israel, in just a few hours, there will be a vote in the Knesset. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu's, 12 years as prime minister could come to an end then. If Israel's parliament passes a vote of confidence on a proposed diverse coalition. Now, if passed, then the far-right wing leader, Naftali Bennett, will be sworn in as prime minister.

For more, CNN's Oren Liebermann joins me now live from Jerusalem with what to expect in the coming hours.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, right now, the last few speakers are going in what is essentially the Knesset debate ahead of not only the confidence vote but also the vote to replace the speaker of the Knesset, an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Each of the coalition parties and each of the opposition parties presenting not only their positions but also their complaints and what they see as issues within the government. There was, of course, notable speech that wrapped up just a few minutes ago, and that was Mansour Abbas, the head of the first Arab party to take part in a government in Israel. That, in and of itself, is a milestone.

As Abbas spoke first in Arabic then in Hebrew. He talked about the need the see each other as partners, not to see each other as enemies. And to use that to advance not only society as a whole but, of course, also build bridges between the Israeli part of society and the Arab part of society. That being said, the two biggest speeches right came at the beginning, that of outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that is if his right-wing rival, Naftali Bennett, succeeds in the confidence vote. Worth noting that Netanyahu's speech sounded a whole heck of a lot both like a campaign speech and like the leader of an opposition speech.

Netanyahu attacked the new government, also saying that this new government is weak, dangerous and wouldn't stand up to divide administration when it comes to Iran and the nuclear agreement. He said it was only him, only Netanyahu that had the strength to do that.

Once again, it seems he is putting his own interest ahead of what is considered, of course, a crucial alliance between the United States and Israel. Then he continued attacking his rival, Naftali Bennett. Bennett who was interrupted repeatedly by Netanyahu and his allies, kept trying to speak between these interruptions, promising sort of a different era of Israeli policy. One in which even your internal rival isn't an enemy, but simply a patriot with a different view on how to move the country forward.


Of course, Bennett has a monumental task ahead of him. First, he has to win the confidence vote. And second, he needs to hold this government together, and those right now are two big questions. Hala, even if it seems like all the indications and the confidences are that he will win the confidence vote, he will be Israel's prime minister, holding the government together, trying to get some accomplishments, that could be much more difficult.

GORANI: All right. Oren Liebermann, live in Jerusalem, thanks very much.

Live images coming to us from Windsor Castle where we expect just about in the next hour, hour and a half, the U.S. president, Joe Biden, and the American first lady, jill Biden, to attend this formal welcome ceremony at Windsor Castle with Queen Elizabeth.

We saw the presidential plane, Air Force one, land in Heathrow just a few minutes ago. And you're seeing already formations there with the official guard there, all displayed and in their places with Marine One just about to take off to land in Windsor, England.

It's interesting -- it's going to be interesting to see, we, of course, will not be privy with cameras. We will bet getting still photographs of this meeting between the queen and Joe Biden and Jill Biden. This is going to be a closed private discussion between the president, his wife and the reigning monarch.

But it's going to be interesting because in one of his books from 2007, Joe Biden mentioned or quoted his mother as saying, if you ever meet the queen of England, make sure you do not bow. So, it's going to be interesting to see the body language between the two.

But, of course, Queen Elizabeth did meet Joe Biden at a more informal dinner at the Eden Project in Cornwall, and it was a very, very friendly meeting by all accounts.

We'll have a lot more coverage of this after a quick break. My colleague, Dana Bash, takes over on CNN. Do stay with us. A lot more ahead.