Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Railway Disaster. Aired 11:00-12:00p ET.
Aired May 13, 2015 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:10] Male: The crash still feels like a dream, like how could this happen?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Railway disaster. A train crash kills six people and injures more than 200 others on one of America's
busiest rail lines. Tonight the search for answers in this U.S. railway disaster.
Also ahead, executed - South Korean spies say Kim Jong-un has had another high-ranking official put to death. We'll try to figure out what's
happening in the hermit kingdom.
And later back from the dead - a look at those trapped for years at sea in Thailand's fishing industry. The latest installment in CNN's
Male Announcer: Live from CNN London, this is "Connect the World."
SHUBERT: Authorities in the U.S. are trying to figure out what caused a deadly train derailment along the busiest passenger line in the country.
Six people were killed when the train careened off the tracks in Philadelphia. Hospitals have treated more than 200 people, eight of them
in critical condition.
Now the accident happened on Tuesday night, tearing apart passengers' cars and toppling some of them over. The train was on its way from
Washington to New York carrying 238 commuters and five crew members.
Officials from the National Transportation Safety board have arrived at the scene to begin their investigation.
ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB: (Inaudible) the track, the train signals, the operation of the train, the mechanical condition of the train, and human
performance. We are putting up a multi-disciplinary investigation to try and understand the factors that led to this accident.
SCHUBERT: Our Sara Sidner is in Philadelphia. Let's go straight to her for the latest. Sara, I know that earlier this morning there were
still search crews, people unaccounted for. What's the latest you're hearing from the scene?
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's still the case. It sounds very much like families haven't been able
to connection - not all of the families. And so Amtrak implored people and the Emergency Services implored people to call the 800 number that Amtrak
has put out for families and saying that if you happen to be someone who was in the train - a passenger who is either injured or who was OK to call
that number to make sure that these families are being able to connect with their loved ones.
Let me give you a look at what the scene looks like right now. Just over my right shoulder you'll see what is basically a train that has a
crane on it and it's been trying to right one of the last car that you see there that's really listing all the way to the right and leaning all the
way to the right.
And so you're sort of seeing them try to figure out how to get some of these cars back on the track that are functional to try to remove them.
That's what it looked like initially. We are still seeing investigators on the ground looking at these tracks.
I think they were checking them very diligently because this piece of machinery was going to need to use the track itself to maneuver itself. We
also see a dump truck that is there and a tractor -- it looks like that is there too - not a dump truck, a tractor - that is there as well.
At this point, we heard some interesting news from the mayor and from Amtrak itself, Amtrak saying that there was a forward-facing camera on that
train and that it should have captured the incident. And they are trying to download that information.
We heard from the mayor and the Emergency Management folks that indeed there were 200 people who were treated after this accident, seven of those
cars derailing and 200 - 243 - total people had to be treated.
Now some of that treatment was broken bones, some of that treatment cuts and bruises. That's a lot of people so it gives you some idea of the
extensiveness and just the damage that happened here on this track.
We also know that there's a very sharp curve, a sharp turn there and the derailment looked like it happened right after that sharp turn. And so
there's going to be a discussion about whether that had any effect on this train - whether that had something to do with it, how fast the train was
going. All of that information should be available on the black box, similar to what you would get out of an airplane for example. They are
able to get off electronic data to find out some of those details as well.
SHUBERT: Now it's clearly going to take a few days before we get all of the answers. But do we have anything that they have ruled out so far in
terms of what actually may have caused the train to run off the tracks?
SIDNER: The only thing that we know of that has pretty much been ruled out is that the FBI said that they do not believe terrorism had
anything to do with this. And that is the only thing that they're saying.
[11:05:03] The rest - everyone else - is saying, 'Look, we are not going to speculate at all on what might've happened. We want to get the
facts and tell you what did happen. We will do that as quickly and as diligently as we can.'
We know the NTSB is here, they have seven people on the ground. They are checking everything from the tracks to the train to humans - potential
human error. They're also looking at the signals. They're looking at everything - the electronics, the mechanics. That is what they do, that is
what they're trained to do.
And generally the NTSB is quite open with some of its information so during past crashes when it comes to airplanes, we've seen them tweet out
pictures of inside of the wreckage.
And so don't be surprised if you start seeing some of that coming out as they're doing in their investigation. They are very -- often very open
about some of the things that they're seeing from their perspective, and they will tweet out some of those - some of those - images and we will also
get them and share with the audience as well.
But obviously ultimately this will quite some time to get the actual facts on exactly what happened here. We will get preliminary facts as we
go along and we will share those with you as soon as we get them.
SHUBERT: Thank you very much. That's CNN's Sidner there at the scene of that crash and you can see those incredible pictures of the train
they're trying to pull up.
Well to get more on this, we wanted to bring in an expert on rail safety. Steven Dittmeyer is an adjunct professor of Railway Management at
Michigan State University. He was also involved in the creation of Amtrak and he joins us now from Alexandria, Virginia.
Thank you so much for being with us. Let me ask firstly about how often these kinds of derailments happened - have happened - in the past. I
understand there were nine this year, six last year. Are we starting to see more of these derailments?
STEVEN DITTMEYER, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR RAILWAY MANAGEMENT: We're seeing a lot of derailments, however many of them have
been caused by collisions at grade crossings where a truck or an automobile has been stopped on the track -- an Amtrak train has hit those vehicles and
What those accidents indicate is that better work needs to be done at grade crossings to ensure that vehicles know not to pull in front of Amtrak
SHUBERT: Let me ask about the infrastructure for Amtrak specifically because the United States, while it has Amtrak, really hasn't invested in
the same way that other countries like Japan have. So are we looking at infrastructure that's basically starting to fall apart over time?
DITTMEYER: Amtrak owns its own infrastructure between Washington and New York and Boston. That infrastructure was built in the 1930s and was
substantially renewed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The time has come for yet another major renewal of that infrastructure and it's going to cost
many billions of dollars.
Elsewhere in the country Amtrak runs on the infrastructure owned by the freight railroads. Now the freight railroad infrastructure in general
is quite good these days despite the fact that there have been crude oil train derailments on them.
But the freight infrastructure is pretty good but it's not designed for high-speed passenger trains. And, again, they have the problem with
the grade crossings sub (ph) and it is on those lines where the grade crossing problem is very severe.
SHUBERT: Amtrak has often been criticized particularly by those in the Republican Party who see it sort of as a waste of money. But the
reality is, you know, that the need exists for this kind of transportation, so is a crash like this -- such a high profile crash - going to doom Amtrak
or is it going to cause a renewed focus to actually improve it?
DITTMEYER: That is a very interesting question. We will have to see how this plays out politically. In other countries - you mentioned Japan,
Germany, France, United Kingdom - their countries have made conscious decisions to invest in passenger trains. And in fact they view that by
proper investments they can change the way their countries function - that people can live further out, they don't all have to live in the big urban
cities and so on.
So it is largely a political decision but in these other countries, it tends not to be a political debate. The various political parties seem to
have agreement that this kind of investment is very important.
SHUBERT: Well thank you very much for joining us tonight. Steve Dittmeyer, railway management professor at Michigan State University.
Thank you very much.
[11:10:01] Well still to come tonight - reports are emerging of a gruesome public execution in North Korea. We'll see why leader Kim Jong-un
may have wanted his own defense minister dead.
But first, why is there dancing in the streets as a Burundian army general announces a coup. We're live in the region next to get the latest.
SHUBERT: You're watching CNN and this is "Connect the World" with me, Atika Shubert. Welcome back. Now we're going to an African nation whose
leaders' efforts to stay in power saw him restrict jogging groups and even try to limit religious meetings.
But today in Burundi an army general said President Pierre Nkurunziza has been overthrown after he rejected calls to drop his bid for a third
term. There is now a military presence outside the state broadcaster. And a Western diplomat has told CNN that shots have been fired.
(SOUND OF WHISTLES BLOWING)
(SCENES OF CELEBRATION)
SHUBERT: As you can see in that video in the capital hundreds of people celebrated the announcement which comes after two weeks of protests
against the former rebel leader.
Now the East African nation is due to hold elections next month. The U.S. and European states have called for the vote to be postponed however.
Now I want to put this all - this unrest in Burundi - in context for just a moment. Just some points to go through here - President Pierre
Nkurunziza took office in 2005 - that's after the country's 12-year civil war. That is a conflict that left an estimated 300,000 people dead.
He was reelected in June 2010 in a vote that was boycotted by the opposition which claimed the vote was fraudulent. And the president is a
former sports teacher who joined the Hutu rebellion in 1995. He quickly climbed the ranks, becoming a rebel leader.
Well for more on this, CNN's Robyn Kriel is covering the story from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi for us. Robin, first walk us through what we
know has happened so far on the ground.
ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well at about noon today, Atika, this general - major-general, the former head of intelligence actually -
Niyombare -- announced to reporters and I suppose to the world really that he was dismissing the president along - alongside -- with other high-
ranking army officials, civil rights groups, religious leaders - and that they were going to form a sort of interim government whilst allowing state
ministers to still continue in their current positions.
And then telling people that they were going to be safe. He said that they dismissed the president, they dismissed his ideas to run for a third
term. From then on, they went to the state broadcaster. As you said, they were followed by jubilant crowds singing the Burundian national
[11:15:04] We spoke to a journalist inside the state broadcaster who said - he said -- he could see what looked like thousands of people. Some
shots we believe were fired because there were some loyalist troops to the president who set up barbed wire perimeters around the state broadcaster.
But we believe that the state broadcaster did eventually let the soldiers in and they are now, from what we understand from people on the
ground, broadcasting the same message to the people of Burundi.
SHUBERT: So it does seem that this is publicly supported, at least judging by those crowds in that video, but how hopeful are you to see an
actual stable transition from a military leadership to some sort of eventual election?
KRIEL: I suppose it really depends on just how dedicated the military is to I guess a peaceful transition as you said to putting a politician in
power rather than staying in a military role.
Burundi has been through a long period of peace and reconciliation - security co-operations, programs through the United Nations. They actually
have peacekeepers currently serving in Somalia.
But there is this underlying ethnic tension that exists between the two major tribes of Hutu and Tutsi. So as long as - as long as that does
not generate into some kind of ethnic violence, then perhaps it will be a stable transition and perhaps even going into proper free and fair
elections as the African Union, as the U.S. and the United Nations have called for as well.
SHUBERT: Well thank you very much. That's CNN's Robyn Kriel in Nairobi, Kenya keeping across what appears to be a d'etat in Burundi.
Well, executed in public at a firing range with guns powerful enough to down an aircraft. Returning now to reports that North Korean leader Kim
Jong-un has ordered the death of another top official, this time his defense minister. Kathy Novak looks at the price of alleged disloyalty in
one of the world's most brutal regimes.
KATHY NOVAK, CNN FREELANCE REPORTER OUT OF SEOUL, KOREA: A high- profile official often in the public eye. Just last month Hyon Yong-chol was among a North Korean delegation to a security conference in Moscow,
representing the regime, posing for official photos.
And on April 29th, singled out in state media reports as one of the top officers who attended a performance for army brats at the People's
Palace of Culture.
Not long after, according to South Korean intelligence, the North Korean defense minister was secretly purged and publicly executed, shot by
anti-aircraft guns at a Pyongyang shooting range.
CHARLES ARMSTRONG, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: This is a big deal. He was a survivor, he was from Kim Jong-un's father's regime, he
made it through the transition, he was a very high profile military man.
NOVAK: So why the sudden brutal fall from grace? A lawmaker who attended the closed-door South Korean intelligence briefing tells CNN Hyon
was accused of not following Kim Jun-un's orders as well as negligence of duty, expressing discontent towards Kim and once dozing off in a meeting
organized by the young leader.
ARMSTRONG: Kim Jong-un has shown a ruthless side that we haven't seen since his grandfather consolidated power back in the 50s and 60s of really
going after rivals or potential rivals and having them executed. This is something we haven't seen in North Korea for decades.
NOVAK: This after reports from South Korea's spy agency that 15 high- level officials have been executed this year and the notorious 2013 execution of Kim's own uncle Jang Song Thaek, once a member of the inner
circle then found guilty of treason - labeled by state media as 'despicable human scum.'
One North Korean official, Park Yong-chol, dismissed reports of recent executions as malicious slander. But Park, the deputy director of a think
tank with links to the highest level of the government, told CNN, "It is very normal for any country to go after hostile elements and punish them
and execute them."
As of yet, no official confirmation from North Korea of Park Yong- chol's death. Kathy Novak, CNN Seoul.
SHUBERT: Well live from London this is "Connect the World." Coming up, President Obama invites leaders of the Gulf State to Washington, but
not everyone accepted the invitation. We'll tell you who's coming and who's not in in about 15 minutes.
But first we're off to see how a coffee culture is growing in a nation of tea drinkers. "African Start-Up" is in Uganda this week. That's next.
[11:21:42] Female: Coffee-growing powerhouse Uganda is a nation of tea drinkers but in major cities like Impala, that's beginning to change.
Former chemist Jamada Kiyemba is tapping into the emerging coffee culture with his new coffee company.
JAMADA KIYEMBA, FOUNDER, ORIGIN COFFEE : There's a lot of coffee growing in Uganda. We are the second largest producer in Africa, about
eighth largest in the world. One percent of Ugandans drink coffee which means your target market is primarily expats or medo tropi (ph) class
Ugandans. And that's a challenge. You find that you have to teach people how to drink coffee.
Female: Origin Coffee strives to narrow the gap between the farmer and the coffee lover.
KIYEMBA: I felt that there's a need for African entrepreneurs who kind of know what they want while at the same time providing something to
the farmers - giving them fair prices but at the same time cutting out all the middle people and supplying coffee to the end users.
What you see here is the raw coffee and it arrives from the farmers reading for processing art the plant in this form.
Female: Kiyemba started his company in June last year with $3,000 of his own savings. He sources beans from cooperatives across Uganda,
roasting between 200 and 500 kilos a month.
KIYEMBA: This is the finished product. It's roasted coffee, it's medium dark roast - very good. Has all the undertones - acidity, body,
after taste - that are desired for a great cup of coffee.
So I do my packaging at the plant. I bring the coffee here, pack it in these silver bags ready to ship to the cafe.
Female: Kiyemba ships the coffee to four major cities in Uganda and exports to the U.S. and Canada.
KIYEMBA: The coffee is very much like wine or any other luxury good. People like it different. For example, cafe might want a medium dark
roast, another might want a light roast, another might want a medium roast or a lighter coffee.
So I tailor it to you, and that's the difference. That's what makes me different from any other brand of coffee.
Female: He now has five employees and is working towards getting his own shop.
KIYEMBA: Business is going really well. I - sometimes I get very busy and I can't keep up because you expand, you know, you can't foresee
how much you're going to expand. But it's going good and I'm happy with the reception.
So here it is from bean to cup.
[11:27:07] SHUBERT: This is "Connect the World" and the top stories this hour - an investigation is underway to find out what caused the deadly
Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia. Six people were killed and more than 200 injured. Eight of them are in critical condition.
An official with the African Union says a coup attempt is taking place in Burundi but a government spokesman is denying the claim. Burundi's
president is out of the country for a crisis summit in Tanzania. His decision to seek a third term has sparked weeks of deadly protests in the
And the death toll from Tuesday's 7.3 magnitude quake in Nepal now stands at 94 across the region. It was the second powerful quake there in
less than three weeks.
Rescue crews are still trying to reach remote areas near the epicenter and a search is also underway for a U.S. military helicopter that went
missing on Tuesday. It was carrying six Marines and two Nepalis.
At least 43 people have died in a sectarian attack on a bus in Pakistan's largest city. Gunmen on motor bikes attacked the vehicle in
Karachi. A militant group that targets Shias has claimed responsibility and is vowing to carry out more violence. And the bus passengers were from
a Shia Muslim minority that hasn't been attacked like this in Pakistan before.
So let's bring in journalist Michelle Stockman to explain a little bit more. She joins us now from Islamabad. Michelle, what can you tell us
about this particular group and why they were the apparent targets of this attack.
MICHELLE STOCKMAN, JOURNALIST: Well, Atika, as you said, this is the first time there has been an attack of - and attack of this nature -
against the Ismaili Muslim sect. They are a small subset within Shia Islam. In Karachi they're well known in business circles and they look to
the Aga Khan as their spiritual leader.
And there's a large diaspora if you will across Europe and North America. And so this appears to be an attack of opportunity. This bus
that was carrying this group was on its daily route. It made five trips between this complex where the group was living to the city center.
These were children going to school, men and women on their way to work and the gunmen knew when they could stop it and attack. So, again, it
appears to be a target of these militant groups trying to attack religious minorities, and this is just an example of the cloud of terror that
religious minorities live under here in Pakistan, Atika.
SHUBERT: I was going to say, can you - I mean - we've seen a number of these attacks on Shia in particular but what can the government do to
try and stop this? I mean, have we actually seen the perpetrators of these attacks, for example, being brought to justice?
[11:30:04] STOCKMAN: That's a great question, Atika. Right now the government and the military and police are in a - they've been conducting a
crackdown on militant groups within the city of Karachi since September 2013. The military is also carrying out a campaign against militant groups
that are entrenched in the northern tribal areas within Pakistan.
You know, we receive announcements on a regular basis that groups and militants have been killed up in the tribal areas. Also that the police
are cracking down on militant groups within Karachi. But, again, we're seeing a lot of pushback.
Police have been regularly attacked and also kidnapped in Karachi and, again, we see that they weren't able to prevent this attack today and
they've received a lot of criticism on social media today in Pakistan for that failure. So, again, it's very difficult. These groups are very
fluid, they're very entrenched, they have quite a bit of support and so it's difficult for the Pakistani State to crack down on them, Atika.
SHUBERT: Yes, a feeling of lawlessness in general. Well thank you very much for that. Michelle Stockman for us in Pakistan.
Well returning now to reports that North Korea has executed yet another member of Kim Jong-un's inner circle. South Korea's intelligence
agency says defense minister Hyon Yong-chol was shot at close range in public by an anti-aircraft gun, this after he was accused of treason.
Now if this is true, it is just the latest in a deadly purge of top officials who have offended North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Now a high-
level defector tells CNN he believes Kim's brutal strategy will backfire.
Our Paula Hancocks spoke exclusively with the man we'll call 'Mr. Park' who says Kim may have just a few years left in power.
Male: (Speaking in foreign language).
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A son grieves for his father then executes his closest aids. Within two years of taking
power, five of the seven men you see here with Kim Jong-un were either fired or killed.
According to this man, the highest level North Korean official to defect in years, that was just the beginning. We're hiding his identity
and calling him 'Mr. Park' to protect friends and families still in Pyongyang. In his first ever interview, he tells CNN Kim Jong-un's cruelty
is turning the elite against him.
'MR. PARK', NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR, TRANSLATED BY HANCOCKS: "Within three months of taking power," he says, "Kim Jong-un had ruthlessly
executed seven of his father's closest aids and three generations of their families including the children. That was the beginning of his reign of
HANCOCKS: Park worked closely with his father, former leader Kim Jong-il, himself considered by much of the world as a brutal dictator. But
he says while the father imprisoned his enemies, the son simply executes them.
PARK, TRANSLATED BY HANCOCKS: "Hundreds," says Park. "They may tremble in fear of him but their loyalty is fake. They don't consider him
human. His cruelty angers and shocks them."
HANCOCKS: One reason he believes Kim Jong-un will lose power within three years. Another reason, he says, increasing questions of legitimacy.
Many believe Kim Jong-un's mother was born in Japan, an historical enemy of the Kim dynasty which obsesses over a pure regal bloodline.
While Kim has highlighted his physical similarities to his grandfather and founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, Park doubts they ever even met.
PARK, TRANSLATED BY HANCOCKS: "There's not a single photo of Kim Jong-un and Kim Il Sung taken together," he says. "That is why people
suspect Kim Il Sung didn't even recognize him.
HANCOCKS: Parks speaks of little electricity or running water outside the capital Pyongyang, evidence of which I saw while in North Korea in
2013. But he also claims the country is running out of money. He says he worked closely with Kim Jong-un's finances. Plans for a Chinese-style open
market soon dropped when it became clear Kim Jong-un's reign could be in jeopardy.
Kim Jong-un has lost the confidence of the elite says Park as he appears powerless to improve either the economy or foreign policy.
Instead, he appears to be focusing on areas he thinks he thinks he cannot fail - nuclear and military.
Paula Hancocks, CNN Seoul.
SHUBERT: Now South Korean intelligence claims that this year Kim Jong-un has been ordering executions at a rate of almost one per week. A
high-level North Korean official told CNN these accusations are baseless and are malicious slander.
They say, quote, "It is very normal for any country to go after hostile elements and punish them." Well for more perspective on this now,
we're joined by Neil Ashdown, the deputy head of Asia analysis at IHS Jane's Intelligence Review.
So let's start with what we actually do know, because as usual with North Korea, it's a lot of rumor and no one quite is sure exactly what
happened. But do we have some very hard facts on what exactly happened?
[11:35:05] NEIL ASHDOWN, DEPUTY HEAD OF ASIA ANALYSIS, IHS: You're absolutely right. There is a big problem trying to identify information
about North Korea.
In this case we have the South Korean intelligence agency who claim that this has taken place, that this man was executed. What we do know is
there have been reports of the same method of execution being used in the past to kill people with - deemed as enemies of the regime. And we think
we've identified in satellite imagery the place where these take place.
So it's entirely credible that executions do take place using anti- aircraft artillery. The question is whether this guy has particularly been targeted.
SHUBERT: Well let me ask about that because it seems like such an extraordinary thing - to execute somebody with an anti-aircraft - something
that's used to shoot down planes - in front of hundreds of people reportedly.
Why would you choose such a brutal method of execution so publicly?
ASHDOWN: It's about sending a message. If this is - if this has indeed taken place and if as the South Korean intelligence agencies say -
it was in front of an audience of spectators, it would be to send a message to them.
SHUBERT: And the fact that it was his defense minister - I mean, you couldn't get closer to Kim Jong-un. This is a man who was appointed the
same day as he - as Kim Jong-un was appointed as leader. So it seemed as though this man was untouchable and yet here he is apparently executed.
Why would somebody at such a high level like this suddenly be disappeared like this.
ASHDOWN: I think the important thing is that he's from the Ministry of Defense. He's from an army background. One of the things we've seen
again and again while Kim has been in power is that he's trying to bring the army more fully under the control of the Workers' Party, a civilian
element of the administration.
And so high turnover in leadership we've seen in this position and the more executions we've seen featuring military individuals is a sign of that
attempt to bring the party more fully - to bring the military more firmly - under the control of the party.
SHUBERT: So it's a power move to bring the military under his control, and yet when you start executing high-level officials at a rate of
once a week, that seems to say you're very insecure in your own power base. What is the situation in terms of Kim Jong-un's stability?
ASHDOWN: It's a very good question. I think the key thing is his stability within the context of leadership. So doesn't matter so much what
the North Korean people think. There are ways in which they are kept under control by the security forces. It's whether he has the support of the
leadership in Pyongyang.
And the question I suppose is if you're executing people at this rate, do you eventually get to the point where is a group of individuals who feel
that they might - their might better be served by stepping in and assuming some sort of leadership.
The key thing in that scenario though would be that Kim would almost certainly be retained as a figurehead given the importance of him and his
family to North Korean state propaganda.
SHUBERT: Well that's just the thing because Kim Jong-un isn't just the leader of North Korea. He really is a spiritual figure for many North
Koreans. He is much more than a politician. Can you give us some context as to exactly what the image is of Kim Jong-un for the average North
ASHDOWN: It's a very - to an extent there are two answers really. I think in the official propaganda is the little general, the little military
leader following up from his father and his grandfather.
But I think privately I think many North Korean citizens because of information that comes from China, from South Korea will be aware of the
contrast between that public persona and the private realities. And to an extent you could argue that public executions like this becoming known will
only contribute to that second face.
SHUBERT: Well exactly. It'll be very interesting to see what happens next. Well thank you very much. Neil Ashdown from IHS Jane's Intelligence
Well moving from the Middle East, people in Yemen are getting a much- needed break from the fighting that has gripped the country for six weeks. A five-day humanitarian pause proposed by Saudi Arabia went into effect
late Tuesday to allow for the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's King Solomon has pledged more than $260 million towards a relief center in Yemen. That is according to Saudi-owned
Al Arabiya TV.
U.S. President Barack Obama is also hosting Gulf leaders at the White House and Camp David to discuss Yemen's security situation and Iran's
nuclear talks. But King Solomon has decided to skip this week's meetings, a move both the White House and Saudi officials are downplaying.
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: This idea that this is in any way a snub will reflect there's a problem in the relationship is absolutely
has no basis in fact.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITEHOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I know that there have been some speculation that this change in travel plans was an attempt to send a
message to the United States. If so, that message was not received because all the feedback that we've received from the Saudis has been positive.
SHUBERT: So no snub here. But the subtext is very hard to ignore after decades of marching in tandem, Washington and Riyadh appeared to be
out of step on Syria, on Iran's nuclear program and on the fight against ISIS. Well the Saudi king is not the only one skipping Minister - Mr. -
Obama's summit. Three other Gulf leaders are also staying away.
Becky Anderson spoke with Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics and
Political Science. She began by asking him how troubled the relationship between the U.S. and its Gulf allies had become.
[11:40:12] FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: There is a crisis in relations between the United States and Gulf Arab States and this crisis
is not a product today. This crisis is as old as five years ago. It's a crisis of trust, crisis of confidence and a crisis of changing strategic
priorities for the Obama administration.
So what you have seen in the last few days is an accumulated set of grievances on the part of Gulf Arab States, particularly Saudi Arabia,
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST OF "CONNECT THE WORLD WITH BECKY ANDERSON": One source said to me here that this will only be a positive meeting for
Gulf leaders or semi-leaders let's call them. If they get more than assurances on the U.S./Iran deal, to what do they want to come out with?
GERGES: If you ask me what's the most important thing that the Gulf States want, they want a defense pact with the United States of America.
They want the Obama administration to say, 'Look, if the Gulf States are attacked by Iran or any hostile power, the United States would come to
ANDERSON: They're not likely to get that though are they?
GERGES: This is off the table because everyone knows that the U.S. Congress would not go for a formal institutionalized defense pact. So what
does the Obama administration offer for the Gulf Arab States?
A presidential letter that is if the Gulf States are attacked, the United States would come to their aid. But a presidential letter - the
next president let's say - might or might not honor this particular commitment. Let's say Hillary Clinton comes - becomes - the next
president. It's up to her to honor the presidential statement by Barack Obama.
In addition to this particular presidential statement, the Obama administration is going to say well can I (sell/send) you arms? We're
going to send a strategic defense missile system to help you with - but the Gulf States are not buying this because the Gulf States are4 suggesting
that Barack Obama has sacrificed the strategic security interests of the Gulf States on the altar of its relationship with Iran, that the United
States basically has prioritized its rapprochement (ph) with Iran basically at the expense of Gulf security.
ANDERSON: How deep is the mistrust?
GERGES: Very, very deep. This particular crisis of trust is five years old. When the Obama Administration has refused to basically
intervene in Syria and topple the Assad regime, this was the beginning The nuclear talks between the United States and Iran is part of the problem.
If you tell me what's the most important fault line in U.S. relations with the Gulf States, I would say Iran, Iran, Iran.
ANDERSON: How will a deal with Iran affect what is going on in Syria if at all?
GERGES: The Obama administration has made up its mind. It has prioritized its rapprochement (ph) with Iran. There is consensus within
the Obama administration that a nuclear deal with Iran would have major effects on other portfolios.
In Syria, in Lebanon, in Yemen. That is basically American officials believe that Iran would behave itself, Iran would deal where it comes to
Syria, Yemen, Lebanon. So this is the mindset of the Obama administration and that's why the Obama administration finds itself between a rock and a
hard place. The rock - the reaching an agreement with Iran and the hard place of reassuring its Gulf Arab States that the United States is not
sacrificing the security of the Gulf States on the altar of its rapprochement (ph) with Iran.
SHUBERT: We hear there from Fawaz Gerges. How do you read King Solomon's decision to skip the meetings with President Obama? Let us know
what you think. You could always follow the story as the team is working on throughout the day by going to our Facebook page -
facebook.com/cnnconnect - and you can tweet me @atikacnn.
Well live from London this is "Connect the World." Coming up - two parents in Thailand wait for their long-missing son to finally come home.
He's been found but his ordeal highlights a despicable problem in the illegal fishing industry.
[11:46:56] SHUBERT: CNN's "Freedom Project" continues to highlight efforts to end modern-day slavery around the world and all this week we're
focusing on Asia -Pacific fishing industry and reports of men working as slave labor.
Now the first part of a three-part series we aired earlier this week - a report in Thailand - exposed the poor conditions in detention cells that
Thai fishermen have been kept in on Indonesian islands. In the second part CNN discovered dozens of fishermen who returned home from their ordeal at
sea and found they are not recognized as trafficking victims.
And now in part three, Saima Mohsin tells us about so-called "ghost ships."
SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN ASIA CORRESPONDENT: In the middle of a field a rusty shack shelters two figures. They sit and wait.
A 77-year-old man shakes, awkwardly holding a phone to his ear. It's his son in Indonesia, a fisherman who's been missing for more than seven
SAMARN CHARBENSUK (ph), STRANDED FISHERMAN'S FATHER, VIA INTERPRETER: I thought he was dead. We were sitting and thinking, he just disappeared,
never showed up. Perhaps he's dead. Maybe he died in the sea where he was trying to make a living.
MOHSIN: He had no document, no hope of being found or returning. But an aid organization, LPN, discovered him on an Indonesian island along with
hundreds of others. They took his information and went searching for his parents - garbage collectors in their 70s. They hope he'll be home soon.
MANOE CHANWISEL (ph), STRANDED FISHERMAN'S MOTHER, VIA INTERPRETER: I am desperate. My house is broken, I have no money. We have to wait for
others to buy us some food.
MOHSIN: I asked her if they'd go to the airport to greet him. She says they simply can't afford it even though it would cost just $5 for each
In March and April Thailand brought home more than 90 fishermen stranded on an Indonesian island. Ninety out of a possible 3,000 according
to LPN, a labor rights organization. The men were discovered only when Indonesian authorities launched a crackdown on illegal fishing. Many of
them had gone for months, years, even decades on so-called "ghost ships."
PATIMA TANGPRATYAKOON, LABOUR RIGHTS PROMOTION NETWORK, VIA INTERPRETER: The company could be given one permit to fish but in fact has
five fishing boats that rotate falsely under one permit. If they are caught, whoever's onboard would be considered illegal because they're not
in a boat with a permit and often their documents are also forged under fake names.
So not only is a ship a "ghost ship," but the people onboard are also "ghost people."
WARAPON PROMPOL, DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL, FISHERIES DEPARTMENT: It's impossible. They have to be out there all the time.
MOHSIN: Our investigation has led us to understand that there are "ghost ships" that stay out at sea. They can be refueled, they can be
brought water by other boats and labor of sail men (ph) for many years
[11:50:06] PROMPOL: That's quite interesting, you know, but what - that is the kind of thing that we have to find out as well in term of
cooperation with other countries. We - this one have to be fixed. This problem have to be fixed.
It should be a period of term on when they have to come in and go back to the part (ph).
MOHSIN: Are you going raise that as an issue with your other counterparts?
PROMPOL: For this particular issue, yes of course. We will raise this issue.
MOHSIN: Nung (ph) drops to his knees. He was among one of the groups of Thai fisherman recently repatriated by the Thai government in March. He
planned to be away only a few months. He's been gone two years - a ghost at sea.
YUPARAK CHOKEYOTHASL (PH), RESCUED FISHERMAN'S MOTHER, VIA INTERPRETER : He told me he was given only a potato to eat and water to survive.
MOHSIN: The cling to each other, refusing to let go after being separated for far too long. It's stories like these that have dominated TV
screens at home and abroad that is forcing the Thai government to take more decisive action.
The Marine Department grants fishing licenses or permits to boats and companies. It's now going to make installing VMS or Vessel Monitoring
Systems mandatory for an annual license.
CHULA SUKMANOP, DIRECTOR GENERAL, MARINE DEPARTMENT: Now with the VMS you monitor everywhere a ship goes. Can protect or remit the risk of
breaking the law. I think it's going to be better. It's going to be hard (ph) well (ph) for the employ - in compliance and enforcement officials.
MOHSIN: As with all laws, implementation is key. For 50,000 boats registered with Thai authorities only 6,000 - the bigger boats - will be
installed with the VMS and initially even fewer - about 2,100 60+ ton vessels will get trackers.
But at least the largest boats that head into deep sea are less likely to become ghost ships. Saima Mohsin, CNN Bangkok, Thailand.
SHUBERT: They've heard from former slaves in the fishing industry, the activists helping them and now government officials pledging to do
more, but there is a role you can play as well.
Log on to a special section of our website to find out which agencies are working to end modern-day slavery and what you can do to support them.
Even if it comes down to learning how forced labor factors into the products. A powerful resource is at your fingertips at
Well live from London this is "Connect the World," and coming up, the Prince's secret letters - why the publication of letters Prince Charles
sent to government ministers sparked a new scandal here in London. That story coming up next.
SHUBERT: You're watching CNN and this is "Connect the World" with me, Atika Shubert. Welcome back. Well we now turn to a story that's getting a
good bit of attention here in the U.K. Some secret letters Prince Charles wrote to government ministers several years ago are now being made public
after a long legal battle.
Well CNN's Phil Black joins me now. Let me first ask - they're called the "black spider memos" - why is that?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Prince Charles is a known letter writer supposedly in free script - resembling something like
black, scrawling spiders. But the key thing is the letters that have been revealed today are actually typed out.
[11:55:10] SHUBERT: OK, so why are they so important?
BLACK: Well ten years ago "The Guardian" newspaper decided to test a new piece of legislation called the Freedom of Information Act. As I said,
Charles is a known letter writer. They decided to try and get their hands on some of them nominated at random a period of eight months. Requested
it, it was denied at every stage.
The legal battle has gone on for ten years - went all the way to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, which eventually said yes
these letters should be released.
Now it's an issue because on one hand you have the government arguing this is Charles exercising his right as the heir to interact with the
government ministers, he has a reasonable expectation of privacy in doing so.
But critics believe that this could be Prince Charles lobbying behind the scenes - secretly influencing government policy in ways that he will
not be held accountable for. So those are the two sides.
SHUBERT: Well Trusbury (ph) and Ashman (ph) said this is already a victory, but what's actually in the memos? Is there anything significant
BLACK: We're working our way through them still and I've got to say nothing that exciting that we've found so far. So we've got 27 letters in
all, only ten written by Prince Charles. The other 17 by ministers and private secretaries from various government departments - a lot of it on
subjects that we know Prince Charles is very interested in - namely agriculture - the beef industry, architecture - the redevelopment of old
buildings. These sorts of things.
Btu certainly very forthright, often very lengthy, very detailed in the advice that he's given. There's some very forthright exchanges
directly with Prime Minister Tony Blair specifically, even talking on - perhaps a little more controversially - about how well armed British and
supplied British forces were in Iraq.
So I don't think there are any surprises in this necessarily but it does prove I guess what many have long suspected - many of Charles' critics
have long suspected - and that is that he does try to use his influence behind the scenes with siting governments.
SHUBERT: A very interesting freedom of information case. Well thank you very much, Phil Black.
Well Prince Charles' second son Harry had other things on his mind as he continues his tour of New Zealand. He got to practice the traditional
Maori war dance today. Take a look at this.
(ROOMFUL OF SOLDIERS PRACTICING WAR DANCE AND CHANTING ALONG WITH PRINCE HARRY)
SHUBERT: Now the prince had just 20 minutes to learn that complicated routine before performing it with other soldiers at an army camp north of
Wellington. The Haka dance as it's known honors fallen comrades and past military campaigns.
Putting in some effort. Well I'm Atika Shubert and that was "Connect the World." We will have more in just a few moments. This is CNN.