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Koreas Resume Talks, But Get Battle-Ready; Americans Help Prevent Train Massacre; Three Contractors Killed in Afghanistan; Air Show Crash Kills 7; Biden Talking 2016 With Warren? Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 23, 2015 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: There is much more ahead on the next hour of your NEW DAY and that starts right now.


PAUL: A lot of news happening this morning: talks underway as we speak here in the Truce Village between North and South Korea. The two sides are working to ease tensions as the countries talking as they seem to be teetering on the edge of a full scale military confrontation.

BLACKWELL: Leaders from around the world now hailing three Americans and two others as heroes for stopping an attack on a high speed train. Officials claimed the suspect has links to ISIS.

PAUL: Three American contractors killed in Afghanistan. A suicide bomber striking their caravan, leaving nine others dead and dozens wounded.

BLACKWELL: And look at this, an air show disaster, seven dead after an old military jets slammed med into a busy highway.

PAUL: Joe Biden, leaning closer to a White House run, some are thinking. A private meeting between the vice president and Elizabeth Warren, yes, the senator. Is it a sign that Biden is serious about jump into this race?

BLACKWELL: Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell. Always good to start a Sunday with you.

PAUL: Absolutely. I'm Christi Paul. Thank you so much for sharing sometime with us this morning.

We want to start with this breaking news we've been following from the Korean peninsula. North Korea is sending more artillery forces, we've learned, to the border with the South. An estimated 70 percent of their submarine units have also left their bases. Now, the South seems to be taking precautions as well, calling back six of their fighter jets from military drills in Alaska ahead of schedule. At this moment, top officials from both sides are back at the negotiating table after the two sides traded fire on Thursday.

CNN correspondent Kathy Novak is in Seoul, South Korea.

And, Kathy, yesterday, these talks went on for 10 hours. We're four hours into talks right now. Surely, this has progressed to talking about more than just propaganda blaring from speakers.

KATHY NOVAK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's some of the speculation, absolutely, Christi, that there's got to be a lot on the table. There's a lot of ground to cover. These are very important people who meet very rarely. So, of course, they'd want to take the opportunity to discuss everything that has been building up for so many years between these two sides. But they have also a very difficult task, even when it comes to just the tensions that have been building recently, because South Korea was blaming North Korea for land mine attacks that almost killed two South Korean soldiers. North Korea is not taking responsibility for that, but still, in response to that, South Korea restarted this program of psychological warfare, the propaganda speakers that are so angering North Korea.

So, in order to find solution to the impasse there, it seems that they're going to have to find a way for both sides to be able to save face. But the other things that they may be talking about are all of the other issues that have been plaguing the peninsula for years and years, issues such as sanctions that South Korea has slapped on North Korea, issues such as family reunions.

And there was some hope because they had all come around the table, and also hope because KCNA, the North Korean state news agency, was referring to South Korea respectfully by its real name, the Republic of Korea, rather than a puppet state as it usually does. That was yesterday.

Well, today, KCNA is back to its usually ways. This is how it had to say today, "Never to be pardoned are the South Korean puppet group of traitors going busy with igniting a war of aggression while swimming against the unanimous desire of all the compatriots for peace."

So, you have that kind of language back again, Christi, as well as this build up of troops while these talks are still going on.

PAUL: All righty. Kathy Novak, appreciate the update. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World".

Gordon, good to have you back.

I want to start with the four men who are sitting is at this table. Is it likely that not just this skirmish but maybe any other larger issue can be solved without a mediator, without a third party?

GORDON CHANG, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": I don't know what a mediator could do. This is a very difficult situation for both sides. There are a lot of obstacles. But, you know, at some point, I think they will come to an agreement. But you can't see either South Korea or North Korea agreeing to a mediator because they're just so opposite right now.

I think they can settle this among themselves. It probably will be easier for them to do that without a third party in the room.

BLACKWELL: And the additional question would be, which body, which country would both sides trust to be that unbiased and objective mediator?

Let's get to what we know about the rhetoric that's change here, going from calling South Korea the "Republic of South Korea" to "puppet traitors". What's the significance to you?

CHANG: I think this is just North Korean tactics, which are typical.

[07:05:00] You know, they will sometimes show, a kind face, sometimes a difficult one. So, I think that this is important in a sense, but nonetheless, you know, we've seen this before. That's the reason why we also had this military buildup on the North Korean side with the bringing down of the Scud missiles, more artillery, sorting the submarines. This is again, you know, negotiating tactics on the part of the North Koreans.

BLACKWELL: Is there any likelihood that North Korea will admit to planting these land mines that both South Korea and the U.N. believe that they did? And what would be the significance for South Korea? Do they want more than that?

CHANG: Yes. I think that is a start for South Korea. But I don't see the North Koreans agreeing to do that. I think one of the reasons why the North planted those land mines is to prevent South Korean soldiers from crossing the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, and going to South Korea and defecting. That actually happened in June when a North Korean soldier walked across the border. So, you know, this is very sensitive for North Korea. So, I don't see them admitting this. And I don't see them actually stopping measures to prevent their soldiers from defecting.

BLACKWELL: Back to the man in the room. We know that North Korean representatives who are part of this meeting made the trek to South Korea back in October for the Asia Games. And we know that North Korea also specifically requested the unification minister and the head of national security, Director Kim, from South Korea.

What's the significance of these two? Is there anything can be gleaned from that request?

CHANG: You know, I think it is a good sign that you have very high level in the room. You know, General Hwang Pyong-so, who travel to South Korea in October, you know, when he came down in October, there was a lot of optimism that this sort of signaled a new posture on the part of North Korea. But those hopes quickly faded.

So, while I think it's important that you have decision-makers in the room or people who are close to decision-makers, nonetheless this is going to be a long, drawn out negotiation because the issues there are important and many of them on the table from what we all find out. BLACKWELL: All right. Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown:

North Korea Takes on the World" -- thank you so much.

CHANG: Thanks, Victor.


PAUL: There is race for information right now in Paris. Antiterrorism officials are interrogating this man, French media identifying him as Ayoub el Khazzani. He's accused of trying to attack a European train packed with travelers before he was stopped by passengers -- three Americans and one Briton, by the way.

Well, investigators are trying to decipher where he traveled in the months before the attack and then determine how he came to be so heavily armed.

Nic Robertson is live in Paris.

Nic, I know you've been watching this investigation unfold. What's interesting this morning, this new information, is that this suspect has a very different version or story about a possible alleged motive here, yes?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. I mean, what we're reading in local media that they're getting from their sources inside the security sources here in France is that he was on the train trying to perpetrate a robbery and --


PAUL: I keep waiting to see if he's going to come back.

What Nic was trying to say there was there is word come media there in France that this man was trying to perpetrate an armed robbery and that he just came up -- I think we have Nic back. He came upon or found these weapons randomly. Is that right? Is that the story?

ROBERTSON: That's what yes. That's what they have the investigative police.

The reality is, you know, he was in Spain associating with radical Islamists there, back in 2014. That' where he was living. He's 26- year-old Moroccan, by the way. He was put on the radar of French counterterrorism officials by Spanish officials late last year, or earlier last year rather, and then he moved to Belgium. He was on the radar of Belgian counterterrorism officials.

And then this year to the point just a few months ago he went to Turkey, made contact with a group of French ISIS there, not sure if he's actually gone to Syria, came back to Europe from turkey just a couple of months ago -- and that group that he made connection with, they have tried to perpetrate an attack here in France by directing another young radical Muslim from the North Africa here. That was thwarted back in April by the French police. So, the idea that he's going to try to pass off he got these weapons in a park and was trying to rob people on the train, I think that is not going to wash here, but that's apparently what he's saying.

PAUL: All right. Nic Robertson, appreciate so much the update there from Paris, and we're going to keep you inform, obviously, throughout the morning on the story as it develops.

[07:10:02] BLACKWELL: All right. Political watchers are perking up after this meeting regarding Vice President Joe Biden's future. There's a private meeting with one of the big stars in the Democratic Party, Senator Elizabeth Warren. We'll tell you more about this sit- down and what could be the real impact of this conversation.

Also, protesters steal the spotlight from Governor Chris Christie during his visit to the Iowa state fair. We'll tell you why these protesters interrupted.




GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, let me be -- let me be really clear about that. I have to tell you the truth, when something like that happens and I'm here in Iowa -- man, I feel right at home.


PAUL: Well, he handled it well, didn't he? Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie taking a ribbing from animal rights activists there in Iowa, speaking on the soapbox at the state fair in Des Moines.

Christie was interrupted by the activists you saw there. They were yelling stop exploiting animals. It's not food. It's violence.

The New Jersey governor coming under fire for vetoing legislation that would ban pig farmers from using crates that limit the mobility of pigs.

So, let's turn a little more to the 2016 race. New speculation this morning about a possible White House run for Vice President Joe Biden.

[07:15:00] This after sources say Biden had a private meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren. The sit-down might be the biggest indication yet that Biden is hearing from influential Dems before announcing his intentions.


Well, we're getting these details in from my colleague Jeff Zeleny. He broke this story. And it looks like it's the biggest story of the weekend, certainly on the Democratic side of the 2016 race. We know that the meeting was held at Biden's request. The senator came to the naval observatory after the vice president asked her to. It was a two-hour long meeting. The pair discussed economic policy according to a person familiar with

the discussion. That person told CNN that the presidential campaign or Biden's future was not a particular focus of the discussion. But, of course, this is significant because Senator Warren has become something of a liberal icon. She has a lot of fans, fans who are encouraging her to make a run for the White House in 2016.

Now, she's sitting this race out. But she hasn't endorsed any other candidate. So, we know that Biden and his supporters are closely watching this race. They're seeing the appeal of another liberal senator, Bernie Sanders, from Vermont. He's drawing huge crowds and inspiring a lot of enthusiasm.

And, of course, they've got to be looking at the numbers, numbers like the ones in our most recent CNN/ORC poll. I think we can put that up on the screen if we have it. The high unfavorable views of Hillary Clinton, our polls showed that 53 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of her versus just 44 percent for the vice president.

We also know, of course, that her honesty and truth worthiness numbers are taking a hit because of all these questions after those e-mails. Our same polls show that more than half of Democrats want to see Biden get in the race. So, you got to figure these are things that they're looking at and considering.

PAUL: Well, they're looking at, I'm sure, a possible deadline to do so. Jason Johnson was just on our air last hour and said if Biden doesn't make an announcement by October 1st, he doesn't think it can happen. Are we hearing anything about a deadline from your end there?

JONES: Well, that's what his advisors have told him, exactly, October 1st. Biden has told his associate, he's going to decide whether he's going to mount this third run for the White House in about the next month. His advisers have said that he's got to decide by October 1st. So, they agree with Jason Johnson.

I would expect there to be some sort of announcement between say mid- September and of course that October 1st date.

We know, of course, that mounting a run for the White House is no small task. You've got to have the organization. You've got to have the fund-raising. We know a small team has been working for weeks, trying to put together a campaign strategy of fundraising plan.

But, you know, Christi, we know the vice president, he's run for this offense twice. He believes he would make a good president, but he doesn't want just to run to make Hillary Clinton a better eventual nominee, he wants to run to win. So, that's going to be an important part of this discussion as well -- Christi.

PAUL: Certainly. All right. Athena Jones, appreciate it this morning. Thank you.

JONES: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's break this down further with CNN politics senior reporter Steven Collinson.

Stephen, good to have you with us.

I wonder --


BLACKWELL: -- with Secretary Clinton's logistics and fund-raising advantage and the huge crowds we're seeing for Senator Sanders, does Vice President Biden need something like a vote of support from Elizabeth Warren to really have a chance here?

COLLINSON: Yes, I think you're right, Victor. She would if she endorsed his campaign and played a roll in it, fire up the progress wing of the Democratic Party, which is currently swooning for Bernie Sanders. An, really, the only potential lane for Vice President Biden to have a shot at winning the nomination is in Hillary Clinton's problems with this e-mail server continue.

And it seems at the moment every time she tries to address it she makes it worse. So, I think that's got some in the Democratic Party thinking, OK, if this doesn't go away, who is there in the Democrat Party, because many people think that Bernie Sanders, although he's getting a lot to his rallies and firing up the left wing of the party, is not really a potential nominee who could win the general election. So, it's really a question of the circumstances lining up for Biden, as much as him thinking, OK, I got a really good chance to win this in my own right.

BLACKWELL: Are there enough resources available? Not just the money and the fund-raising but state party chairs, endorsements? He needs to get on the ballot in all 50 states. Can he do that?

COLLINSON: That's right. And that takes a lot of time. Hillary Clinton has done a very good job of forming up support from the party elites. It's unclear whether Vice President Joe Biden would be able to do that in the short amount of time that exists between when he would declare a campaign, beginning of October perhaps. There's the first Democratic debate, which would be on CNN in mid-October, and the primaries and the caucuses which start in Iowa at the beginning of February.

[07:20:05] So, the time frame is very, very narrow for Vice President Biden, and again, the only real reason for him to get into this race is to be in a position that he could if Hillary Clinton's campaign were to implode, if there are some real revelations about these e- mails we're unsure, you know, will happen. He would be in a position to assume much of that support.

So, it's almost like he's in there as a contingency rather than running a more traditional campaign, where a candidate starts to build a campaign slowly, builds up through months and goes through the process. So, it's the timetable that's the difficult thing for Vice President Joe Biden.

BLACKWELL: All right. Stephen Collinson, CNN political reporter, thank you so much for being us this morning.

COLLINSON: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right.

Christi, back over to you.

PAUL: Yes, let's talk about this unprecedented move to help battle the wildfires in Washington. The state is now putting out a call for volunteers. You don't have to be a firefighter.

Plus, U.S. contractors are the target of a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. We'll let you know what we've learned.


PAUL: Twenty-four minutes past the hour.

And police are searching for more potential victims today after this vintage military plane crashed into a busy highway yesterday. The plane was flying a loop during an air show in England. You see it there, it nose-dived. Seven people on the ground died and that pilot survived somehow but is in critical condition or critically injured, I should say. Today's session of the air show obviously has been cancelled.

[07:25:01] BLACKWELL: These wildfires that are raging out west, Washington state especially, have strained firefighters and stretched resources so thin that for the first time ever officials are calling on citizen volunteers to help. They say they've already been flooded with offers. We also know there are 200 active duty military personnel who are joining this firefight this weekend. There are 259 fires burning in 17 states across the U.S., mainly in the west and southwest.

PAUL: The Environmental Protection Agency was well aware of the potential for a blowout at an abandoned mine long before millions of gallons of waste water polluted rivers in three states. I know you remember these pictures. But that report, according to newly released documents showing the EPA knew about the dangers for, quote, "more than a year". Three million gallons of waste water spilled from the Gold King Mine on August 5th and this is what it left, pollution that spread through Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. Those state are now considering lawsuits.

A plane suddenly crash lands on a beach and narrowly misses families. This happened along Riviera Beach in Florida last night. The rental plane's engine went out and began a nose dive. The pilot was able to glide the plane and land outside of a condo. No one was hurt. The plane is still on that beach as the FAA begins their investigation.

PAUL: Let's talk about some happy news. Two new bundles of joy at the Smithsonian National Zoo. Giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to her first cub after her water broke around 4:30 yesterday. Well, the second cub came unexpectedly late last night around 10:00. The zoo says both appear to be healthy. Fortunately, there is going to be alternated between an incubator and mama bear so they both get time to bond.

BLACKWELL: All right. This morning, we are learning more about that suspect in that alleged train attack in France. The questions here, do the weapons he was carrying give investigators any clues into whether this was a well-planned and thought out attack.

Plus, the result of a year-long CNN investigation. How one hospital is responding after senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen uncovered an unusually high death rate for babies in their pediatric heart surgery unit. And it's -- that's how (INAUDIBLE).