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Obama Prepares for Busy Week at U.N.; Is Bloomberg Considering Independent Run?; Iraq to Share Intel with Russia, Iran and Syria; Pope Wrapping U.S. Visit. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 27, 2015 - 07:30   ET



[07:33:16] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Thirty-three minutes past the hour. So grateful to have you here with us.

As the pope wraps up his epic U.S. visit here, President Obama is getting ready for a busy week in New York as the 70th session of the U.N. General assembly. Now, his agenda includes a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Relations between the two, as you know, have really soured since Russia's involvement in annexing Crimea from Ukraine and things are getting even more dicey it seems with Russia's backing of Syrian President Assad.

Let's go to CNN senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth.

Richard, I know that there has to be, I would think, a lot at stake in this Obama-Putin meeting. What do we know about it?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there are thousands of meetings one-on-one between different presidents and prime ministers. There's no doubt the heavyweight matchup will be Monday afternoon in New York between the leaders of Russia and the United States. Each side not really going out of its way to say that we wanted the meeting, that it was kind of they wanted the meeting and who stands to get more out of it. They may need each other since there are big geopolitical issues ranging from Syria, elsewhere in the Middle East and Ukraine.

The U.S. officials have said President Obama is going to stress Ukraine and the issues of Eastern Ukraine, intervention by Moscow forces there, while the Russians who have an interest, according to many analysts, of being a bigger player on the world stage -- Christi.

PAUL: Certainly, Iran has got to be a major topic this week at the U.N. as well. What are you hearing?

ROTH: That's right. Iran and the United States have already met again first time since the big nuclear deal. John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state and the Iranian counterpart who spent months in hotel rooms all over Europe trying to negotiate this deal. It's now agreed to.

[07:35:00] John Kerry says there is still hope to work out issues in other areas despite what Iran might say for now.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We need to achieve peace and a way forward in Syria, in Yemen, and the region itself. I think there are opportunities this week and through these discussions to make some progress.


ROTH: Iran is on opposite sides from the United States in places like Yemen and in Syria. By the way, the French bomb for the first time ISIS targets inside Syria today. The Iranian foreign minister saying things are best discussed at a bigger international forum. Meanwhile, the Iranian president yesterday before the U.N. General Assembly talked whether it could lead to progress elsewhere, though he really focused on environmental agreements.

PAUL: All right.


PRES. HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN (through translator): The process of -- that we took the past two years and also the attainment of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5-plus-1 pave the way for regional and international cooperation, including cooperation in the field of environment.


ROTH: President Obama will also speak today at the U.N., kind of a warm-up act. This will be on various social goals ending poverty along with Russia's foreign minister -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Good to know. Richard Roth, always good to see you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's talk more about the big meeting between Obama and Putin.

On the phone with us, Ian Bremmer, a political scientist specializing in foreign policy, and president of the Eurasia Group.

Ian, let's start with the decision because reportedly, there are some administration officials, U.S. administration officials who think that this meeting just having it is counterproductive. The sanctions were determined to be in place to isolate Putin but this could bolster him. Is that a credible concern?

IAN BREMMER, EURASIA GROUP (via telephone): Sure it is. But, of course, the isolation of Putin failed from day one. There were not a single emerging market supported the isolation. The Chinese ended up doing a lot of more business with Putin after the U.S. said we want to isolate them, unlike a country like Iran and North Korea, simply too big to isolate.

The real issue is that after Putin decided he was going to send troops, tanks and now fighter jets into expanded basis they have built up in Syria, it really changed the state of play on the ground and the Russians basically said, OK, we now want to talk to the Americans because we need to deconflict any potential fighting going on. We don't want, God forbid, we might actually inadvertently attack each other, one wouldn't want that to happen.

That then led to the secretaries of defense from both countries talking to each other by phone. Kerry saying, well, you know, there is nothing to be concerned about here. Immediately, it looks like the Russians are just engaged in self-defense and fully trying to pave the way for this conversation between the two presidents.

But we're clearly not happy about it. The White House isn't happy about it, but Russians managed to insert themselves more clearly into this situation.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll wait for a readout, at least some indication what was discussed during the meeting after it happens on Monday.

Let's talk about presidential politics now, because you've got probably one of the most interesting tweets of the past few days. This is your tweet, "Word from those who know Mike Bloomberg is seriously considering independent run," Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York.

How seriously?

BREMMER: Pretty seriously. I mean, these are colleagues and friends of mine who have known Bloomberg well. I mean, he has been talking about and sort of -- he's always asked about it. I've been in many conferences where he's been asked directly, you know, sort of please run, Mike Bloomberg. He kind of laughs it off and says it's not really possible. I mean, look at me, I'm a New York billionaire, and all of this sort of thing.

But this is an unusual campaign and he's apparently taking the idea of an independent run much more seriously. It depends clearly on what looks like, in terms of the continued persistence of these very non- establishment candidates. Number one, would you end up getting Trump, Carson, or Fiorina breaking through and getting the nomination on the Republican side and does Hillary implode actually on the Democrat side?

I think if those two things happen, I think a good chance you end up with another candidate.

BLACKWELL: You know, this counters, though, his own wisdom from 2013. Let's put it up if we have it. He said, "I'm 100 percent convinced that you cannot, in this country, win an election unless you are the nominee of one of the two major parties." Also said, "The second thing I'm convince of is that I could not get through the primary process with either party." So, I wonder two things here. Why the consideration to run now? And is the electorate, in your opinion, prepared for another self-funded billionaire who was both once a Democrat and a Republican?

[07:40:05] BREMMER: I think his latter formulation still holds, which that he doesn't believe he can get through the primary process of a party. But the former is a little different. I think that no one expected and he certainly didn't expect in 2013 that you'd be sitting here today with not only Trump as a front-runner, but with the three front runners on the Republican side basically almost 50 percent, sometimes more than 50 percent between them, all being complete outsider anti-establishment candidates and with the possibility of Hillary not actually -- I mean, not only not being the inevitable candidate, but a lot of people talking maybe she will get excited as this e-mail issue continues to move through the e-mail scandal, e-mail blowup.

I mean, if that happened I don't personally think the country right now really wants another self-funded billionaire. But, at the same time, it's very clear the country really doesn't like the establishment parties and they don't like the establishment candidates. We have not seen in decades the level of people that do not affiliate or identify themselves with either the Republican or the Democratic Party, the support for, quote/unquote, "independents" is going up. Some of this is about the changing nature of the media and campaigns.


BREMMER: And some of it is just about how unsatisfied lots of people are with the system they see to be broken. I mean, Trump is a bit of a buffoon, of course. I personally don't think he's going to get the nomination. And yet, they talk about the system is corruptly taken by money and these individual candidates can be bought, that something that resonates well with folks on both parties. And Bloomberg is very aware of that.

BLACKWELL: He said he participated in for sometime. He admits.

Ian Bremmer, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate the insight.

BREMMER: My pleasure.

BLACKWELL: All right. Christi?

Well, a new partnership in the war on terror this morning. Iraq, we have learned, now sharing information on ISIS with Russia, Iran and Syria. How will that affect the battle against the militants?

Also continuing coverage of Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. We are now in the last almost 12 hours, final 12 hours of his visit as he wraps up his trip in Philadelphia and we are talking about a teen who performed for the pontiff.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:46:08] PAUL: Forty-six minutes past the hour right now.

The fight against ISIS inside Syria is expanding this morning. The French, for the first time ever, say they conducted air strikes on the terror group inside the war-torn country this morning. And this news comes as Iraq announces a new intelligence concerning agreement with Russia, Iran and Syria in the battle against ISIS.

Lieutenant General Rick Francona is joining us now from Portland.

So, Lieutenant Colonel, when we hear about the new intelligence sharing agreement between these countries, does that not confirm U.S. suspicions that there has been some sort of cooperation between Baghdad and Moscow?

LT. GEN. RICK FRANCONA (RET), CNN MILITARY: Oh, I think there has been a lot of behind the scenes cooperation between the two. The Russians and Iraqis have a long history of cooperating with each other, and this is Russia's attempt to make themselves relevant in the Middle East again. For years, they have had trouble reestablishing themselves there. What we have seen the last several weeks, Putin has done a massive job of capitalizing on what he regards as an American failure, moving that force into Syria and now setting up this cooperation sell with the Iraqis.

PAUL: So, what does it mean for the U.S. fight against ISIS if there is now this collaboration with these countries?

FRANCONA: Yes. This is really going to be a problem for the U.S. Defense Department because now you've got the Russians, the Iranians, and the Syrians all cooperating together against ISIS ostensibly, and that makes us kind of the odd man out, because we're the ones insisting that the Syrian government has to be removed.

So, I think it's time for us to reassess what our first priority is in Syria: is it ISIS or is it the removal of Bashar al-Assad? I think we're going to find out that it's ISIS, and probably at some point, we're all going to have to coordinate against ISIS.

We have to coordinate. You cannot have the air forces of these many countries operating in that small air space without talking to each other.

PAUL: So you just said that there is going to have to be a decision made, one or the other. Bashar al Assad or ISIS.

As a lieutenant colonel who has experience here, what do you think it should be?

FRANCONA: Well, I think the real politic is this we are going to have to focus on ISIS first and as John Kerry says, maybe later on, we can come up with some sort of diplomatic process inside Syria to deal with the Assad government.

But he's got too much support now for us to really make this work. We need to focus on ISIS. PAUL: There's a report in "The New York Times" that there are some

250 Americans that may have been trying to get to the Middle East to fight for ISIS. How vulnerable do you think the U.S. is right now at this point to some sort of attack here in our own country?

FRANCONA: It's really hard to assess because we don't really have a good handle on how many people have gone to the Middle East, picked up all of this combat experience and training with explosives and come back. I think the bigger threat is the people that are in place in the United States who are reacting to the ISIS appeal to conduct some sort of lone wolf operation. This is a real daunting task for law enforcement.

PAUL: Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, always appreciate your insight. Thank you.

FRANCONA: Good to be with you, Christi.

BLACKWELL: The pope is finishing up his trip to the U.S. in a really big way. Mass for more than a million people expected today.

Now, a million, maybe 1.5 million today. But look at the huge crowd last night. This is as the pope walked onto the stage. Tens of thousands turned out for a festival of families last night. Big performances.

We'll talk with a teenager who performed for the pope at the event.



[07:53:40] PAUL: There is your video showing some kids' choir singing for the pope's big night in Philadelphia. This wasn't just a remarkable day for the 1 million plus people who packed into the City of Brotherly Love. What a special moment for these kids, right? I mean, they got to live a dream and perform on the brightly lit stage before a crowd of thousands.

And guess what? Anna Guaracao joins me now. She was one of the smiling faces there on the stage.

And you're still smiling today. I'm not at all surprised, Anna.

Can you help us understand? Since we weren't there, give us a sense of what it was like on that stage.

ANNA GUARACAO, PEROFORMED FOR POPE FRANCIS: So crazy. It was just a rush. I was telling 6 ABC last night, I had no words in my head. Like I was not thinking, I was just doing. It was such a great in the moment experience.

PAUL: Did you have a pep talk? I'm wondering what your conversations were with you and some of the other members in the choir there prior to going on stage. GUARACAO: Everyone was freaking out because after the performance of

Bobby Hill, which is a members of the boy choir and when he gave this little rock to the pope, everyone was just ecstatic. We were bouncing off the walls that this is going to happen, like this is so crazy.

[07:55:00] PAUL: I understand that you didn't get to meet the pope but Bobby did. Did you talk to him about that? And what did he say?

GUARACAO: Yes, Bobby was like bouncing off the walls. Like his eyes were tearing up. He had -- the boy choir a couple years ago went to Antarctica and they brought back two rocks of St. Peter and our director, Mr. Steve Fisher (ph), he saved them to one day give them to someone special and they were hoping to one day sing for the president of the United States but the pope got there first.

So, then, Bobby walked up to the pope with the rock and the pope was like, Bobby was like, the pope said in his little accent, oh, is this for me, thank you. And then in return, he gave Bobby a rosary. So, we were looking at the rosary like oh my God, this is so amazing.

PAUL: We're so glad you got that experience and thank you so much for sharing with us because it's certainly something special.

Anna Guaracao, thank you, best of luck to you, as always.

GUARACAO: Thank you.

PAUL: Sure. Take good care.

BLACKWELL: Top of the hour, we'll have complete coverage of the pope's last day in the U.S., including a look what is ahead for this afternoon's mass in Philadelphia. More than 1 million people expected to flood this area. We'll be back.