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Iranian President Questions U.S. Commitment to Nuclear Deal; Interview with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. Aired 11:00a-12:00p ET

Aired September 22, 2016 - 11:00:00   ET



[11:17:14] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hello and welcome to Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. And you've been listening to our coverage

of the recent unrest over the police killing of an African-American man in Charlotte, North Carolina in the states. We'll have more on that later in

this hour.

First, though, to day three of the UN General Assembly's annual debate. A short time ago, we heard from Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. Now, Mr.

Rouhani is the first of several major players in the Middle East on the list of speakers today.

For more, I'm joined by our senior UN correspondent Richard Roth and CNN Money's John

Defterios here with me in the studio in the UAE.

Richard, let me start with you. A warning from Mr. Rouhani about what Iran sees as the failure to implement the agreement to lift sanctions on his

country. And this morning directed squarely at the U.S. What did he say?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the two countries, Iran and the United

States, despite the bit nuclear agreement, have certainly had their issues since the signing of that historic nuclear accord, whether it's Iranian

ships contesting U.S. vessels, military vessels in international waters, and other minor discrepancies, some in this case President Rouhani maybe

making, trying to score diplomatic points. He didn't really give too many specifics, but here is what he

said at the United Nations General Assembly about what he felt about how the United States was behaving towards the joint comprehensive plan, the

JCP, you'll hear him refer to it.


HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The United States is fully aware that JCP constitutes a recognized multilateral agreement and

any failure on the part of the United States in implementing it would constitute an international wrongful act and would be objected to by the

international community.


ROTH: Iran's leaders saying the United States' position in the world will suffer and be eroded if if it continues to not live up to the agreement.

Inside the United Nations today, Becky, there will be the so-called E3+3 countries. They are going to decide what the state of this accord is. It

doesn't seem to be nothing at risk at the moment unless things were to really get out of hand or escalate. No sign of that at the moment --


ANDERSON: Richard Roth joining us out of the UN. Richard, thank you for that.

John Defterios, we are looking at at a very sizable order of planes for both Boeing and Airbus for Iran. Why now?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR; It's interesting, Becky, this plane deal is seen as a benchmark, whether the P5+1 agreement is real or not. So, it's been very important.

Timing is everything. I don't want to be a cliche about it, but the deal being signed the night before President Rouhani took the stage at the UN

General Assembly is important. To be blunt, it's like a political lifeline for him. He's been facing very intense pressure back at home and from the

very top, including the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and even the head of the Revolutionary Guards as well on two fronts, Becky.

They said that Iran sacrificed a lot in terms of scientific prowess with this P5+1 agreement, but at the same time they're starting to question his

motivations for ordering so many U.S. and European planes. Do we really need a fleet of 350 to 500 planes was the question mark.

Now, President Rouhani -- it was very interesting -- as Richard said, he pointed to the agreement, that the U.S. shouldn't be the only one blocking


If you think back, this is his fourth appearance. Gone are the days of the bellicose Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This is a man who wants to do business with

the west, but he needs some help. And he's saying that the U.S., because of political pressures in a political election year, can hold back further

agreements going forward.

Now, we had great expectations for Iran growing 8 percent once we had this agreement. The benchmark right now is 4 percent for 2016. They're holding

back about $180 billion of investment for U.S. and European companies going into the oil sector as now. But their banking sector is under pressure as


See, look, this is a to and fro. You can't get stuck in local politics right now. And we need to move forward.

ANDERSON: A month ago, this plane deal looked frozen in the tracks. It isn't dead. So what has changed?

DEFTERIOS: Well, it's interesting. I talked about the U.S. congressional opposition. We have a U.S. election year. That's one factor. We have the

U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia, putting intense pressure on Washington not to proceed.

But I think it's important to tell our viewers, this was part of the P5+1 agreement under humanitarian grounds, because the fleet is so old. They

haven't had new planes in that fleet for some 40 years. So, it's important to proceed.

Let's take a look at the order here, it's sizable. So, of course the plane makers wanted to get it, 109 planes for Boeing going forward, 80 of those

direct, and 29 by lease -- 118 for Airbus. Right now only 17 released. But an Airbus spokesperson told us here at CNN Money that they expect the

deal to be completed in another three weeks.

now, a couple of another important caveats to flag here, financing could be a challenge. U.S. Treasury lifted the agreement for the plane deal, but

still Iran cannot trade in U.S. dollars. Both Boeing and Airbus said there's plenty of financing out there.

There's another military caveat built in to the agreement as well. There are accusations in the

past they were using Iran Air to deliver military equipment and weapons. This is very strict that it's only limited to civilian use.

[11:27:48] ANDERSON: Fascinating. Rouhani just one of a number of Middle Eastern leaders on the list at the UN GA today. It's been an extremely

busy week on the Iran front and beat.

We're going to be right back. Stay with us.


[11:25:14] ANDERSNO: Welcome back. A slightly abbreviated Connect the World today out of the UAE. It's 25 past 7:00. Welcome back.

It's virtually impossible to tell what exactly is going on with Syria's cease-fire, and yet another blow, at least six people have been killed

today alone by air strikes in Aleppo, that's according to activists telling CNN.

And in a recent interview, the country's president said he's committed to a truce, it's the U.S. and others that aren't.


BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT: You know, we are ready to be committed to any operation, if you want to call it a cease-fire. But it's not about

Syria or Russia, it's about the United States and the terror group that's been affiliated to ISIS al Qaeda, to the United States and to Turkey and

Saudi Arabia.


ANDERSON: Well, despite all that, Washington seems to be clinging to the truce. And now the UN is set to start rolling supplies again, aid groups

slamming the brakes on their deliveries, as I'm sure you're well aware, after trucks and a warehouse full of food and medicine were attacked

earlier this week, on Monday.

Now, Moscow and Washington are still throwing accusations at each other over that. And with all that going on, a massive Russian aircraft carrier

already sailing for the waters of Syria.

I want to take you to a suburb of the capital, Damascus, now, where a bleak preview of the country's future may be playing out. The people living in

Darayya endured shelling, bombing, and gunfire for years until last month when they finally got out after the government stuck a deal with rebels.

They've left behind a wasteland haunted by the ghosts of Syria's war. My colleague Fred Pleitgen takes us through the streets. This is his report.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It looks like so many places in war-torn Syria, and in many ways tells the story of the ongoing

war in this country.

Unspeakable violence, no real winners, many losers, and a society torn apart.

Darayya was under siege and under heavy bombardment for years. And as you can see, there's almost not a single building here in this district that's

still intact. And you can only imagine how dire the situation must have been for the people trapped inside.

Now Darayya is abandoned, under a deal that gave rebel fighters free passage to other opposition controlled areas in exchange for government

control of Darayya. And that brought many civilians to this shelter outside Damascus, many of the children unable to forget the horrors they


It was very dangerous and bombs kept falling all around us, this boy says.

And this girl adds, it was a very bad situation. We had a house in Darayya, but that was destroyed. Now we have nothing.

Darayya was one of the first hot spots in Syria's war, under siege and bombardment for nearly

four years until finally the evacuation deal was reached. What's left is a battered skeleton of a town and the remnants of a brutal battlefield.

This entire area is riddled with an elaborate tunnel system that even has air vents. Now, these tunnels helped the rebels move within the

battlefield from one position to the next.

Syria's government calls this and similar deals around the country reconciliation. The opposition calls it cleansing.

17-year-old Diana chose to go into the displaced camp while her husband left to rebel-held

Idlib Province and never saw their 10-day-old baby.

He chose to go to Idlib, she says, and I was pregnant. It was my due date when we left. I had the baby on the way here.

Darayya is quiet now, silent, empty, and lifeless, as many former residents wonder if their

once-bustling town will ever thrive again.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Dayarra, Syria.


ANDERSON: So often hope is a casualty of war. But that's not always the case. There is a really touching story on our website right now about a

young boy from New York who wrote the American president, asking if he could adopt Omran Daqneesh. The image of him dazed and confused by the war

shocked the world. I'm sure it would have shocked you if you saw that. And he wasn't alone in his offered, this little lad.

For more, head to

Right, the latest world headlines are just ahead. Plus...


[11:30:10] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a police state. People are living in fear.


ANDERSON: Why people are fleeing Eritrea. Later this hour, we have the story of one family torn apart and still searching for their beloved mother

and sister.



[11:33:34] ANDERSON: To yet another tragedy on the Mediterranean. It's become a graveyard for so many migrants and refugees. And this year, it is

set to be worse than ever.

Egypt says a boat carrying 450 migrants overturned off its coast on Wednesday. 43 bodies have been recovered, just over 160 have been rescued.

And that leaves the fate of more than half of them unknown.

Well, four crew members from that boat have been detained for possible charges of human trafficking and involuntary manslaughter.

Let's take a look into this more. We are joined -- I'm very pleased to say -- by Egypt's foreign

minister Samar Shook for you, who is coming to us live from New York and the meetings in and around the United Nations General Assembly. And thank

you, sir, for joining us.

And let's start with the latest on this ongoing rescue effort and what you can tell us about these

reports that people are now being held in connection with this. What's the latest as far as you understand it?

SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The Egyptian navy has been diligent over the last days in trying to provide safety for those who are

embarking on this dangerous route of illegal immigration. On a daily basis has been turning back and rescuing those who have been stranded at sea, and

will continue to undertake that responsibility in cooperation with other naval

vessels in the region.

The latest incident is a tragic one. It highlights the importance of the international community dealing with the migration issue in a

comprehensive manner. But of course we need to protect lives who are in danger and will continue to do so.

[11:35:23] ANDERSON: Of course.

Foreign minister, we have talked in the past about the efforts that Egypt has made to clamp

down the business of people trafficking across the Mediterranean from Egypt. Deaths in the Mediterranean are up some 350 percent on last year

across the board. So, with the greatest of respect, clearly more needs to be done to prevent this.

What is Egypt going to do?

SHOUKRY: Well, definitely a great deal has to be done in limiting the possibilities of the operations of the traffickers, recognizing that also

terrorist organizations are utilizing this as a means of financing their organizations.

We have in Egypt increased the penalties and our police services and security services are tracking the organizations that deal in human

trafficking. And we are also trying to raise the level of awareness related to the dangers and perils.

And we will continue to cooperate with states in the region.

But again, it is a matter of dealing with the underlying problems of conflict, of economic deprivation that need to be addressed so that people

will stay in their places of residence, in their nations, and not seek to flee from areas of conflict and danger.


Let's talk Libya, in focus in New York this week. I want to read something that you're quoted as

saying by the news site Voice of America, you'll know what you're quoted as saying, let's do this for the viewers' purposes. You said in a statement,

quote, "Egypt supports the legitimacy and actions of the Libyan army to maintain security in the country."

We know it is a mess. Which Libyan army are you talking about? Because if it's the LNA, Libyan National Army, you are supporting troops loyal to a

rival government. The UN and European powers don't think is legitimate. In fact, they see General Haftar, who runs the LNA, as a direct threat to

the unity government in Tripoli that they have backed.

Does that bother you?

SHOUKRY: Well, there seems to be confusion. The LNA is the Libyan National government -- Libyan National Army. It is has been endorsed by

the House of Representatives. It has been acting from the outset as a professional unified police force. And it still constitutes the only force

that can be recognized as a national army.

ANDERSON: Not as far as the unity government is concerned, sir.

SHOUKRY: No, the unity government has never declared dissociation from the Libyan National Army. On the contrary, it has had discussions and it

continues the premier of the presidential council is in communications with the leadership of the Libya National


The army is a respected force, a professional force, and has undertaken to liberate, if not

totally primarily major city in Libya which has been (inaudible) from terrorists and ISIS foreign fighters. So I think we have to recognize

things as they are. And we have to recognize that there is no other professional institution in the country to undertake this responsibility.

There are militias who took over Tripoli by force of arms, and certainly they have absolutely no legitimacy and no command structure.

ANDERSON: And with respect, let's just be very clear about this. The UN- backed unity government in Tripoli is not in agreement with General Haftar who runs the LNA. It isn't using that army to do its work on the ground.

And it's been using other groups, including militia, to fight in Libya.

Do you believe -- hang on, hang on -- do you believe the UN-backed unity government is dead? And if so who are you backing to run Libya?

SHOUKRY: You can in no manner say that the government of national accord is utilizing militias in any manner. On the contrary, the government of

national accord has disassociated itself from the militias and is advocating for the creation of a presidential guard and the re-composition

of the Libyan professional army by components in the west and amalgamating

them with the Libyan National Army in the east. So, I think we have to be very clear in terms of definition and do not provide legitimacy to militias

that are closely associated to some very radical and very dangerous terrorist elements.

ANDERSON: Sir, just one other point that I want to bring up with you tonight. And we will continue to talk about Libya and who might run Libya

going forward, because there are many people in the international community who are possibly seeing the end to the UN-backed GNA at present or

the death of it.

But let me just ask you about one other point, which has come up this week in New York. The Egyptian president was interviewed by CNN after meeting

with both the U.S. presidential candidates, and perhaps to the surprise of many, President Sisi heaped praise on Donald Trump, suggesting that he

would, quote, no doubt make a strong leader.

Now, given Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from the U.S., do you sympathize with those Egyptians and other Muslims around the world who are infuriated

by your president's seeming endorsement of this Republican presidential candidate?

SHOUKRY: It can hardly be considered as an endorsement. The president was asked a direct question related to whether Candidate Trump would be a

strong leader. And his response was that he believed so, and he has elaborated further on that because he believes that any candidate who

reaches the endorsement of his party and has this sort of national support is recognized as having the qualifications to become leader of the United


It is up to the American people to decide that, but it is a consideration that both candidates are equally competent and capable of undertaking their


ANDERSON; And with that, we're going to leave it there, because Donald Trump in fact is speaking now. And we're going to go live to that.

But foreign minister, I always appreciate your time, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaking on the situation in Charlotte, North


Let's listen in.