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Multiple Arrests in Connect to Kim Jong-nam's Murder; Donald Trump Changes U.S. Policy for Middle East Peace; North Korea Celebrates National Holiday; How Do Trump Voters View First Month in Office?; Denmark Concerned over Russian Aggression, Cyber Attacks. 10-11a ET

Aired February 16, 2017 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:23] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I'm looking at two state and one state and I like the one that both parties like.


JONATHAN MANN, HOST: And with those words, Donald Trump upends decades of thinking about Middle East peace.

And right now, his pick for America's ambassador is being questioned for the job of envoy to Israel by lawmaker. I'll have the latest on that


And then, murdered or so South Korea says. But what really happened to the brother of North Korea's half brother? A live report ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a little bit of turmoil politically. We respect each other as competitors and as people.


MANN: An axis of friendship as Iran and America clash on the wrestling mat.

Hello and welcome to Connect the World live from CNN Center in Atlanta. I'm Jonathan Mann.

We'll have more on those stories in a moment, but first this, at least 45 people have been killed in a car bombing in Baghdad. A security official

said the explosion happened in a mainly Shiite neighborhood of the Iraqi capital, targeting a busy car market. At least 56 people were wounded.

We'll bring you more details on this as soon as we get them.

We're working the story.

There's been a lot of talk about U.S. foreign policy since Donald Trump took office. Now we're getting more of a sense of how that talk might

translate into action, especially when it comes to Russia, a country Mr. Trump's critics accuse him of coddling.

In the last hour, the new U.S. secretary of state met his Russian counterpart for the first time. Rex Tillerson would consider working with

Russia in areas benefiting the American people.

Over at NATO, meanwhile, the new U.S. defense secretary lashed out at Moscow, labeling its

actions across the world as, quote, aggressive and destabilizing. That's quite a change in tone from President Trump's campaign trail speeches.

Well, for more on what this all means for U.S.-Russia ties, CNN's Nic Robertson joins us now from the G20 meeting.

And Matthew Chance is monitoring Kremlin moves in Moscow.

Good to see you both. Nic, let me start with you. When the G20 gets together, there's a lot of talk about a lot of different issues. But I

imagine that meeting between the first of its kind between the Russian foreign minister and the new U.S. secretary of state had to be center


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely. This is Rex Tillerson. the U.S. secretary of state's first overseas trip as the

United States number one diplomat. And a lot of concerning European about what would go on in that meeting with Sergey Lavrov. Europeans have become

very concerned about what they have heard from President Trump saying that he thinks that he could work with President Putin on issues such as ISIS

perhaps in Syria. There was a real fear here that the United States could go over the heads of European

concerns in a relationship with Moscow.

But what we have heard from Rex Tillerson today really perhaps lays, or begins to lay, some of

that to rest. He's put flesh on the bones about what possibly Donald Trump is thinking about putting a very clear American position that they will

work with Russia, but not on everything. This is what he said.


REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: As I made clear in my Senate confirmation hearing, the United States will consider working with Russia

when we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people.

Where we do not see eye to eye, the United States will stand up with the interests and values of America and her allies.

As we search for new common ground, we expect Russia to honor its commitment to the Minks agreements and work to deescalate the violence in

the Ukraine.


ROBERTSON: So, that meeting between Tillerson and Lavrov was expected to last about an hour. We don't know the details of what was discussed

inside, but we know some of the atmospherics going into it, on that issue of Ukraine, the White House has said that Russia must get its forces out of

Crimea, a pretty high bar, higher than the Europeans.

The Kremlin in the past 24-48 hours has pushed back and said no. So, that was hanging ovr the meeting. And the reaction as well from the defense

minister in Moscow to what U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis had been saying about the United States diplomats should negotiate with, or should talk to

Russia from a position of strength, the defense minister in Moscow saying that will be fruitless.

So, Tillerson, the number one diplomat, was he coming in from a position of strength? Well, certainly the message here is that we're working with our

Transatlantic allies. And that appears to be what the Americans are saying when they mean a position of strength and appears to be their central

message here on this trip to Europe. You have obviously the vice president coming, the secretary of defense and of course the secretary of state here

- Jonathan.

[10:05:15] MANN: Matthew Chance, what kind of signals are we seeing from Moscow?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, when it comes to the relationship between Moscow and Washington under Donald Trump in particular, I think the Kremlin have been quite circumspect from the

outset, I mean, certainly Russian politicians and the Russian media has been full of high expectations about what that new relationship, what that

new Trump administration could mean in terms of the turn around and the thaw in the relationship between these two former Cold War rivals.

But the Kremlin has been a bit more careful on the language it has used. And that's proven to be, I think, probably quite wise, because over the

past week or so, perhaps a bit longer than that. We have seen a distinct change, I think. certainly looking at it from a Moscow perspective, we have

seen a distinct change in tone coming from the Trump White House, and Trump officials when it comes to Russia. We heard the latest sort of example of

that from Rex Tillerson.

But just yesterday, remember, Donald Trump himself tweeted that Russia had taken Crimea and questioned whether the United States was hard enough under

President Obama, was hard enough on Moscow as a result of that.

There have been other examples of that kind of language as well. Nikki Haley, the Trump appointed ambassador to the United Nations saying that

sanctions from the United States would not be lifted on Russia until it hands Crimea back to Ukraine.

And so we have seen, compared to the language we heard from Donald Trump during his election campaign, and you know around his inauguration, we have

heard some much stronger language coming from the United States towards Russia and what they're

policy is likely to be. And I think it's left many people in Russia, many officials in Russia confused, and with some degree of consternation about

what the future will hold in terms of that relationship.

Obviously, there are political reasons for this. I mean, the shadow of Russia looms, as we have all been seeing, over American politics at the

moment. And that will probably mean, I think from a Russian point of view, that that thaw in the relationship that Donald Trump talked so much about

is going to be much harder to achieve.

MANN: Let me ask Nic about that. Nic, Tillerson in his previous life was an oil man who did a lot of business, big business with Russia. He

represents a president who was elected talking openly about lifting sanctions against Russia. How is that being received at the G20 by other

G20 states? And I'm wondering is it part of the conversation, is it part of the reception the new secretary of state is


ROBERTSON: Look, I think European leaders, and the foreign ministers who are here -- and we have the G20, so global leaders here, really want to

hear some definition from Tillerson on precisely what President Trump has meant.

And as Matthew absolutely rightly points out, that the message coming from the administration has been changing more over the past week, and perhaps

this is a reflection that Tillerson is on the scene. He's getting his feet under the desk at the State Department that the Russian foreign ministry

was so sort of concerned about a week or so ago. That Secretary of Defense Mattis sort of got his feet under the table more.

So, you know, the sort of executive, the lead executives in the Trump administration are beginning to bring some definition. So I think those

concerns that the Europeans had about the relationship between the United States and Russia, I think those are being, those perceptions are


But the real test is going to be, of course, and people are going to wait and watch this, they see from here in Europe, there's a certain amount of

chaos going on in the White House, a certain amount of changeable message over a couple of hours between Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer, as we saw

it in the early part of the week that their messages and their points have changed across the matter of a couple of hours.

So, you know, really diplomats here are going to be looking at the White House and waiting to see, well, OK, we've heard from Tillerson, we've heard

what he's got to say. We've heard what Mattis has got to say, let's wait until these men get back to the White House and see how it goes with

President Trump and see what we hear then.

Of course, you know, Mattis was very strong on his message to NATO allies. We have got to change the way you guys are contributing financially. And

you've got to do it now. You've got to show action this year. That's a much different message from the past. And that's a very strong corrective

and coercive message. So, Europeans are going to be looking for a lot more flesh on the bones here - Jonathan.

MANN: Nic Robertson in Bonn, Matthew Chance in Moscow. Thanks very much.

Well, right now the U.S. Defense Department is considering sending troops to fight ISIS on

the ground in Syria. An official tells CNN the proposal is one of several ideas being reviewed as the Pentagon works to speed up the fight against

the terror group. Ultimately, any plan would need to be approved by America's new commander-in-chief. The defense secretary James Mattis

paused for a moment when he was asked about it in Brussels. Have a look.


JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I don't know. I think you would have to ask that question of some others in order to get a full answer.

It's just not one that I would be comfortable answering on my own at this point.


MANN: Let's go live to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Barbara, U.S. troops to Syria. How advanced is the thinking on this? How concrete? How final?

[10:10:48] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jonathan, I think the word you used a minute ago, it's an idea is probably exactly

where it stands right now.

What multiple sources are telling us is, you'll recall President Trump wanted ideas from the Pentagon about how to speed up the fight against

ISIS, and he wanted them within 30 days. That deadline up at the end of the month.

So, this is one of the ideas on the table. Do they want to do they want to make it, though, a full blown option, a full blown proposal to give to

President Trump and get a decision from him. That is not entirely clear yet how far they will go with this idea.

It is a way to speed up the action against ISIS, but it is one of the most high risk ideas out there, of course, because if you're going to put U.S.

conventional troops on the ground inside Syria, that is a very dangerous neighborhood, that is very dangerous business indeed.

So, you know, the military, if they make the proposal official, will attach all of that risk assessment to it and it will be up to President Trump to

decide, you know, if he wants to live up to his campaign promise of accelerating the fight against ISIS, is this the high

risk option he wants to engage in? Is there anything else he wants to do?

MANN: So, let me ask you about the new defense secretary's reaction. He could have said

essentially what you said, this is a remote and very risky possibility. He seemed at a loss for words. Should we read anything into that?

STARR: You know, I think it's a little hard at this point. We haven't seen enough of Mattis yet publicly answering questions to really get a good

read on his approach to this. He is very well aware that this is an idea out there. He is very well aware his commanders are looking at it.

But, look, it is hugely controversial. And I think at this point, what is not clear is if Mattis, along with the chairman of the joint chiefs,

General Dunford (ph), will take that next step and take this idea and turn it into a proposal for the president. Because if you're going to take it

to the White House, if you're going to say, risky, but here's what we could do, you have to be prepared for a president to say, yes, go ahead. And

then you are putting U.S. troops on the ground inside Syria and that takes you into very dangerous territory.

MANN: It really does.

Barbara Starr at the Pengaton following this for us. Thanks very much.

One state or two states, I can live with either one. With those words, Donald Trump scrapped

a deaces' long U.S. commitment to Palestinian statehood, raising huge questions about the future of Middle East peace.

Mr. Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel will probably be pressed to clarify the administration's policies today. David Friedman's confirmation

hearings are just getting underway on Capitol Hill. That's Senator Lindsey Graham you're looking at now.

Friedman is a critic of the two-state solution. And he supports Israeli settlement expansion. There he is.

President Trump hasn't asked for details - or rather wasn't asked for details yesterday when he endorsed the possibility of one state for

Israelis and Palestinians, but his statement clearly pleased Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


TRUMP: So I'm looking at two state and one state, and I like the one that both parties like. I'm

very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.

I thought for a while the two state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi, and if the Palestinians, if Israel and the

Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best.


MANN: We're covering this from the United States and Israel. Senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski is in Washington, Oren

Liebermann is live in Jerusalem.

Michelle, two big pieces of news for Israel, the two state solution as far as Washington is considered is history. And now this new ambassador. Tell

us about him?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's an attorney. He's sometimes described in media reports as a fire brand attorney. And he's

conservative. I mean, he's a son of an orthodox rabbi. He has a foundation that funds a big settlement that is disputed. So, we know where

his beliefs are on some of these issues already. But then hearing President Trump in his press conference yesterday talk about not being

committed to a two state solution among other things, that really fanned the flames surrounding Friedman's potential confirmation.

So we're going to see tough questioning today. This is something that was watched, it was going to be watched anyway with interest, because of the

sensitivity of the issues involved. But now it's kind of front and center, given the president's words yesterday.

I mean, we saw five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel in the last couple of days send a letter to the senate committee, saying they believe that David

Friedman is unqualified to be ambassador to Israel, because of his, quote, radical extremist views.

He's a strong supporter of settlements, and which the prior administration here in the United States opposed and was quite critical of Israel on. And

we don't expect to see that kind of criticism. Although, this administration has sort of very gently nudged Israel to not expand them.

But, you know, the Trump administration has talked about settlements themselves not being

an impediment to peace.

Also we know that Friedman supports moving the embassy to Jerusalem, also very controversial. He's not necessarily a supporter of a two-state

solution either. So we're going to see important questions asked in all of those areas - Jonathan.

MANN: Oren Liebermann, in Jerusalem, Israel has got to be pretty pleased. I mean, it

sounds like they're getting a very, very - well, a very fond old friend of the Jewish state.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as the Israeli media and analysts here have pointed out, David Friedman has views and

opinions that are even more to the right than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has called for, as Michalle pointed out, they're moving the

embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He said he looks forward to working from Israel's eternal capital in Jerusalem. And he even said in an event

here for Presidnet Trump shortly before the elections, at that time still - the Republican nominee, he said that those in the State Department who

opposed moving the embassy, in his words, he said they would be fired.

He has opposed the two-state solution, again there Michelle pointed that out. And he is pro-settlement.

That has made the right wing here very, very happy.

The problem is for Netanyahu, that will put a tremendous amount of domestic political pressure on him, considering that all the center and left parties

are not inside his coalition. That means there will be even more pressure on Netanyahu to expand settlements, and even more pressure on Netanyahu to

begin annexing parts, or all of the West Bank.

Netanyahu will have to figure out how to handle that pressure because he's well aware that doing any of that, or doing that to a great extent will

immediately anger the international community, even if the U.S. signs off on any of it.

MANN: Michelle Kosinski, I'm just curious, once again to go back to the ambassador who is the focus, maybe, of a lot of different issues today.

This is going to be a very tough job for him. I mean, this is a tough job for any American job, a tough job, though, because the policy of the United

States seems to be shifting, the policy on Iran is still unknown, the policy on settlements seems to be shifting. It's not clear that he

represents even the State Department's established policies on these issues.

KOSINSKI: I mean, there's confusion all around, even sort of it's been called foreign policy whiplash by a number of analysts.

You know, when you see something like campaign promises, of, you know, working closely with Russia, working closely with Israel, being firmly

aligned with Israel, and then you see suddenly a statement coming out saying that, you know, maybe expansion of settlements shouldn't happen.

I mean it's hard to know day to day, what really the policy is going to be.

We heard President Trump yesterday talk about settlements. I mean he turned to Netanyahu, looked him in the eye and said I would like to see you

not move forward on some of these.

And that's maybe the strongest statement that we have heard from this administration.

It's really been a departure from the Obama administration on Middle East policy, especially

as regards Israel.

So Friedman will have to figure out, first, what exactly the policy is going to be, what the extent of that is and has to satisfy or try to, these

really strong views and competing interests in such a volatile area.

I mean it's dangerous, that's the word that these former ambassadors, who by the way, have served under presidents in both parties, used when their

talking about getting into some of these issues that could lead to more violence, for example, expansion of settlements.

It's not clear what now this administration would do if Israel continues to expand settlements, for example. And questions, along those lines, really

aren't answered, at least not completely.

[10:20:06] MANN: Michelle Kosinski in Washington, Oren Liebemrann in Jerusalem. David Friedman answering questions from lawmakers on The Hill.

Thanks so much.

Still to come tonight, major developments in what may be a brazen killing, the latest on the sudden death of the North Korean leader's half brother.

Stay with us.


MANN: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Jonathan Mann. Welcome back.

A major story we're keeping an eye on for you this hour, at least 45 people have been killed in a car bombing in Baghdad. A security official says the

explosion happened in a mainly Shiite neighborhood of the Iraqi capital. And it targeted a busy car market.

At least 56 people were wounded. This is the third bombing in the city this week. No word on who's behind this attack. We'll bring you more as

we get it.

The half brother of a world leader, a brazen murder carried out in a busy airport terminal. It sounds like a movie plot. But officials now say

that's exactly what happened to the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

South Korean officials say Kim Jong-nam was poisoned at Kuala Lumpur airport as he was about to board a flight to Macao. Three suspects have

now been arrested, and there are a lot of questions yet to be answered.

Saima Mohsin is tracking the story for us. She joins us now live from the Malaysian capital with the latest.

The investigation seems to be moving very quickly.

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely, at an incredible pace, Jonathan.

This is a murder mystery that expands right across Asia from North Korea to South Korea where we're getting intelligence information from, and three

suspects arrested now, all in custody, one from Vietnam, a woman carrying a Vietnamese travel document. She was arrested on her own at Kuala Lumpur

International Airport. No answers, though, as to whether she was trying to leave the country at the time. Identified crucially through CCTV footage.

A man, a Malaysian man, arrested as well.

And then apparently he led police to his girlfriend, an Indonesian woman, also identified on CCTV footage.

Now, you'll remember that South Korean intelligence officials had said that they believe two

Assian women were involved with the murder by poison of Kim Jong-nam.

We are not sure, though, of which of these women are the women we are seeing on the CCTV footage, but all three people now in custody, an

incredible investigation that it's unfolding to be, Jonathan.

MANN: An incredible investigation of a plot that doesn't seem on the surface at least to have been particularly sophisticated. Published

accounts say, for example, they didn't even have a getaway car. What have you been learning?

[10:25:00] MOHSIN: Yeah, absolutely. Reports in local media that one of the women after carrying out this attack, simply strolled back out of the

airport to catch a cab to wherever she was going and we have been trying to track the whereabouts at various hotels as well and verify where she's been


And a lot of the questions that certainly arose amidst my own team here that are working on

this, why didn't the people who carried out this attack, get on planes immediately and get out of the country? A lot of questions to be answered.

And why were these people involved in attacking Kim Jong-un's half brother from Indonesia, Malaysia and allegedly from Vietnam, Jonathan?

MANN: A man is dead. The mystery, though, is as profound as ever. Saima Mohsin, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, the North Korean government says its latest missile launch was not meant to

provoke anyone. Instead, sources tell CNN that the missile was a gift for the late leader Kim Jong-il.

In fact, North Koreans have begun a two day celebration of Kim's birth called the Day of the Shining Star.

Our Will Ripley is in Pyongang and walks us through the holiday.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the major national holiday here in North Korea. It's the 75th birthday of the late leader Kim Jong-il, the

father of the current leader Kim Jong-un. Tens of thousands of people will be flooding into this exhibition hall today. We'll show you what's inside.

All of these people are pouring in to see a huge floral display of Kim Jongilia, it's a special kind of begonia that was designed by a Japanese

botanist to honor the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il whose portrait is right there.

And this is just one of the celebrations happening here in Pyongyang today.

We're now outside the Pyongyang indoor stadium, and you can see thousands of students are here putting on a huge group dance in honor of the birthday

of the late leader. We're told we can actually walk in. I'll try not to bump into anybody.

We have seen these people practicing throughout the streets of Pyongyang throughout the day, thousands of people spending hours perfecting their


I'm going to bump into somebody and knock them over. I hope I don't.

If North Korea is known for its group choreography, it's also famous for its fireworks. They

hold massive fireworks shows several times a year, including on this day. And no matter what hardships this country may be enduring financially or

otherwise, they want the world to see this, images of strength and power. This is the image they are trying to project.

Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.


MANN: Impressive.

The latest world news headlines just ahead.

Plus a very close shave when Russian warplanes buzz the U.S. warship last year in the Baltic. It wouldn't be the last time. There are reports of

another Russian flyby. This time in the Black Sea.



[10:32:09] MANN: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reaffirming America's support for NATO. He calls the alliance a fundamental bedrock of U.S.

policy. He made that remark during a conference in Brussels Tuesday. The secretary is on a mission to reassure America's European

allies since President Trump described NATO as obsolete.

Defense Secretary Mattis is also downplaying the idea of closer military ties with Moscow and

naming Russian aggression as a threat.


JAME MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Our community of nations is under threat on multiple fronts as the arch of insecurity builds on NATO's

periphery and beyond.

We thoroughly discussed the increased threats facing our alliance and unified by the threats to our democracies I found strong alliance resolve

to address these growing threats.

Russia's aggressive actions have violated international law and are destabilizing.


MANN: And a quick word, I misspoke, those remarks, of course, were Thursday, not Tuesday.

The Russian aggression the defense secretary mentioned came into play last week in the Black

Sea. Three Russian jets reportedly came awfully close to a U.S. missile destroyer. As Ivan Watson reports, Russia has a history of those kinds of

dangerous maneuvers.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is what it looks like when Russian warplanes buzz a U.sS. warship. Multiple fly-byes filmed in

April of last year. Some of them roaring dangerously close to the U.S. ship as it patroled international waters in the Baltic Sea.

The U.S. military tells CNN a similar incident happened last week in the Black Sea, sharing

photos of Russian fighter jets that allegedly buzzed the USS Porter, a guided missile destroyer.

Russia's defense ministry denies Russian jets carried out any fly-byes there.

The fact is fly-byes and close shaves between the Russian military and the U.S. and its

NATO allies are nothing new. Both sides have been probing each other's defenses for years. And there have been some dangerously close calls.

Listen to this Norwegian F-16 pilot, shocked when a Russian fighter jet suddenly flies in over his cockpit.

Norway, a member of NATO, scrambled jets 20 times last year to escort Russian warplanes away from its airspace.

Meanwhile, just last month U.S. alley Britain carried out its own fly-byes, escorting a Russian navy convoy as it steamed through the English Channel.

The number of times NATO warplanes scrambled to meet Russian planes doubled from 2015

to 2016, and the tensions aren't only in the skies. Since Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, a part of Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. stepped up military

exercises in eastern European countries bordering Russia to send this unmistakable message to Moscow.

[10:35:24] MAJ. GEN. JOHN O'CONNOR, U.S. ARMY: We lean forward and demonstrate to Russia and to Putin that we are not broken in our efforts to

stand together through this type of aggression.

WATSON: Russia sees this as a threat.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: But the planes of the United States, not only to - well, they quadrupled, I think, the money allocated

to support military deployment in -- in eastern Europe and then they moved the NATO infrastructure next to our borders.

And this is what happens when these military maneuvers go terribly wrong.

In November 2015, NATO member Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that was bombing

targets along the Turkish border with Syria, an example of what can happen when rival militaries operate in dangerously close quarters.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Moscow.


MANN: In Denmark, for example, there are growing concerns about Russia's military buildup. and Denmark's ability to defend itself. The Danish

defense minister is attending the NATO conference in Brussels and joins us now. Claus Hjort Frederiksen. is live for us. Thank you, minister, for

being with us.

It would seem that your country is caught between a rock and a hard place. You've been very outspoken about the growing threat from Russia. And you

have talked about plans to increase spending, but still not to the 2 percent of GDP that NATO nations are aiming for.

Can you tell us about the pressures right now?

CLAUS HJORT FREDERIKSEN, DANISH DEFENSE MINISTER: What we experience in the Baltic Sea is that after the fall of the wall and the fall of the

Soviet Union, we all thought that there would be peace on the European continent, but we have experienced since 2014 the aggression in Ukraine,

the annexation of Crimea. And then we see a buildup, a massive buildup in the western military district in Russia.

We see increased activity in the Arctic area and we have experienced cyber attacks every

day. We experience that. And of course we fear the interference in our elections in Germany, in France, in Holland, in the coming months.

So all signs are that aggressive Russian attitude will have to get as a consequence that we

strengthen our military efforts in the NATO alliance, and that is why it was a very clear message today from Secretary Mattis that the European

countries have to increase their defense budgets. And I think there was a wide acceptance of that message and that is why in Denmark, we

have stated in our government program that we will have to give the armed forces a substantial

lift in the coming years.

MANN: But still not to the 2 percent, which is what NATO is asking for. Why not?

FREDERIKSEN: That is what we are aiming at over a period of time. The decision in Wales is said that we should start by ending the cuts in

military spendings, and that has been done. And then over a ten-year period, we should increase our defense budgets to 2 percent of the GDP.

And I think that is what we are aiming for the coming years.

MANN: Now, let me ask you about your experience in Denmark, because you were talking about the threat to Europe and to other NATO nations, but

Denmark has had a stunning number of near misses, of episodes with Russian military aircraft and even it would seem a

Russian staged assault, an exercise aimed at what it would be like to take a Danish island.

I mean, how great is the threat feeling to the people of Denmark?

FREDERIKSEN: We feel -- I think that most Danes are uncomfortable, and let me say scared, about the views. We experience these attacks and we

experience the cyber activities of the Russians and that is our Baltic friends from Estonia and Latvia and Lithuania, they are asking for our

help. And that is what is guiding our foreign policy and our defense policies that we have to draw a line.

We have to show the Russians that the Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which means that an attack on one country is an attack on all countries, is a

reality and that we will act accordingly. That is very important for us because the Russians are playing games all the time. And

as you mentioned before, the risk that something goes wrong is very -- is very likely when you have such activities as they have.

[10:40:43] MANN: Well, let me ask you how you view the current controversy in the United States about Russian hacking in the electoral process, and

Russian involvement. Does NATO have an answer for the cyber attacks that your country, that the United States, that other countries have endured or

does NATO need to arm itself in a new way?

FREDERIKSEN: We experienced that these attacks, and maybe the next war isn't war with bullets and missiles, maybe it's a war where the Russians

are trying to undermine our democracies and people's confidence in our democracies, they are fabricating false stories,

they may as they did in Ukraine stop the electricity in a big region, and highly digitalized countries like Denmark and other western European

countries we are very vulnerable.

What if they attacked the IT systems in our hospitals, in our communications and so on. That would immediately erode the trust of people

in our countries. And that is why we have to make a very, very strong effort to prevent that. And that is why it is a legitimate wish from the

new American administration that we increase our defense expenditure, both in military sense, but also in the cyber


MANN: Claus Hjort Frederiksen, defense minister of Denmark, thanks very much for talking with us.

And there's breaking news in to CNN, Pakistani officials say a suicide attack has killed at

least 30 people at a Sufi shrine. An offshoot of ISIS itself Islamic State Corason (ph) has claimed responsibility. Hundreds of worshipers were

gathered at the shrine northeast of Karachi when the bomb went off.

Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World. Coming up...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We respect each other as competitors and as people.


MANN: Lords of the wrestling ring. We're in Iran with an unlikely sporting alliance.


MANN: You're watching CNN and this is Connect the World. I'm Jonathan Mann, welcome back.

It's a rare thing these days to find Iran, Russia and the United States agreeing about anything, except wrestling. The three world powers joined

forces back in 2013 to ensure that the ancient sport was reinstated as an Olympic games event after it briefly lost its spot. These days, tensions

maybe high, but the physical takedowns remains as apolitical as ever.

Frederik Pleitgen was in Kermanshah in Iran to meet some of the wrestlers.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tough sporting mission with a twist of diplomacy. America's national

wrestling team is in Kermanshah, Iran, for the World Cup -- a trip that almost fell through because of tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs saying the team is just happy to be here.

JORDAN BURROUGHS, TEAM USA WRESTLING: It's really difficult for a period of time, but we stayed the course. We continued to train, continued to

prepare. And luckily, we were able to come.

PLEITGEN (on camera): Of course, there was a lot of uncertainty for the Team USA wrestlers, not knowing for a very long time whether they'd be able

to come here to Iran at all. But now that they've made it, they say their main focus is to compete hard and win big.

(voice-over): Iran and America are wrestling powerhouses. Many U.S. wrestler stars (ph) in Iran like Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder.

KYLE SNYDER, TEAM USA WRESTLING: No, I can say there's a little bit of turmoil politically. But definitely, you don't see that within the sport.

You know, we respect each other as competitors and as people.

BILL ZADICK, HEAD COACH, TEAM USA: This is my fourth time in Iran. We've been treated extremely well, as we have in the past and as we tried to

reciprocate when they come to the United States.

PLEITGEN: The head of Iran's wrestling federation tells me politics have no place in the sporting rivalry.

"We are two very powerful international wrestling", he says. "And along with others, we're trying to help the sport internationally to promote

wrestling throughout the world."

Iran and the U.S. are clashing once again on the wrestling mat. And now that the diplomatic hurdles have been cleared, the athletes say their only

focus is trying to win it all.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kermanshah, Iran.


MANN: Fred Pleitgen is in Iran grappling with geopolitics and Greco-Roman wrestling and joins us on the line.

Fred, I gather the wrestling continues. It's an intriguing metaphor for relations between the U.S. and Iran. But let me ask you about more

substantively, the remarks the U.S. president made yesterday, whether there's been any reaction there to his vow, for example, that he will

personally keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

PLEITGEN: Hi, Jonathan.

Yeah, there certainly was some reactions here, it was at the forum of the spokesman for the foreign ministry, and it was interesting because on the

one hand with the Iranians did they attacked the Israelis, specifically the Prime Minister Netanyahu. But they had more of

a defensive position toward the U.S. president, towards Donald Trump.

Now, the Iranians came out with a statement saying that they believed that it was Israel's atomic arsenal was the biggest threat both to global as

well as to regional security here. And as far as President Trump is concerned and some of the things that he said about not allowing the

Iranians to get a nuclear weapon, they said that all of these claims were baseless and that Iran's nuclear program was only for civilian and for

peaceful purposes. Of course, that's something that the Iranians have been saying for quite awhile.

And at the same time, we have also seen a lot of criticisms here over the past couple of years, at this new proximity between Washington and the

Israelis, between Trump administration and the Netanyahu administration, one senior Iranian official telling me just a few days ago that he felt

that a lot of the decision making in Washington these days is heavily influenced by Israeli.

And so certainly looking at that press conference that took place in Washington yesterday, a lot of Iranians are saying exactly the same thing

today, saying they believe that a lot of U.S. foreign policy very much influenced by the Israelis. And so a lot of criticism coming out of Tehran today, Jonathan.

[10:50:02] MANN: Fred Pleitgen in Iran. Thanks very much.

Well, from Iran to the American heartland. Coming up, how some of President Trump's biggest

supporters feel about Mr. Trump's first month in office.


MANN: Welcome back. I'm Jonathan Mann. You're watching Connect the World.

All this week, we've been looking at the many extraordinary changes we're seeing around the world, much of it coming down to one man: America's new

president, Donald Trump.

His first month in office has been characterized by what many see as chaos and miscommunication, but what about the people who voted for him? What do

they think?

CNN's Martin Savidge reports from a small farming community in the Midwestern state of Missouri.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Annie Donovan loves her job.

What do you love most, what is?

ANNIE DONOVAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Taking care of the babies. The baby pigs.

SAVIDGE: It's called farrowing. And if you knew that, well, you're probably a Trump supporter. If you didn't, you're probably not. It's an example of

how life is different in rural America, and it's the differences that shed light on why voters in small towns are so big on Trump.

Here in Mercer County, Missouri, population just 3,500, he got 85 percent of the vote.

You think that people who say the east coast look at America differently than you do?

WOOD HOLT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Yeah, I don't know how they see it, but I think they look at it different than we do. And what makes you think that one?

HOLT: Just what you see on TV, being out there, being with them and around them.

DONOVAN: They're raised it different. You know, we're raised family, you know, home, your country. Your -- even your community.

SAVIDGE: You might think rural life is simpler. These folks say think again.

BILL HECK, TRUMP SUPPORTER: A farmer, but what that's that? Fifteen, 16 hours a day, that's what I work, and I'm 67 years owed.

SAVIDGE: Many here don't just work long hours, they work multiple jobs.

HECK: We come up with the idea of having a bar and grill.

SAVIDGE: Bill owns a restaurant, a liquor store and sells fireworks besides farming was also a truck driver and sales guns. This as he says took a big

hit after the election.

HOLT: Obama sold more guns than anybody ever did. Hillary would have sold even more. Trump is bad for a gun shop.

SAVIDGE: Because rural voters see Trump as pro-gun, meaning they don't have to stock up fearing gun control. They also want Trump to cut regulations,

taxes and people's dependence on government. Here, they rely on each other, not Washington.

DONOVAN: It doesn't matter what your political beliefs are, if somebody needed help, we're all there to help.

SAVIDGE: There's another Trump trait rural Americans love, something his detractors often criticize.

HOLT: I tell you I'm going to do something, and I'll do it.


SAVIDGE: People say what they're going to do and then they do what they say.

And so far, they like everything Pres. Trump's said and done, from his cabinet to his Supreme Court nominee to his promises of dismantling

Obamacare, the wall, even Trump's travel ban, which they see as anti- terror, not anti-Muslim.

HOLT: I don't care where they ban them from. If they're sending people over here that's doing stuff like that, then ban them.

[10:55:05] SAVIDGE: I did ask about the Michael Flynn resignation. Annie says the blame is all on Michael Flynn. He misled the administration, it's

not Trump's fault.

Wood takes a broader political perspective. He says this is the same only political blame game, this time done by Democrats who find fault with

President Trump and will now exploit it. Meanwhile, the work of the people in congress doesn't get done.

Martin Savidge, CNN.


MANN: What are you thinking of Donald Trump's first month in office, chaotic or courageous? Well, let us know your thoughts about that and

everything that's been on your mind, and our program this week by going to

We live in extraordinary time. And it's been a remarkable hour. Thanks for sharing it with us. I'm Jonathan Mann. Our coverage continues.

That's all for Connect the World. Thanks for watching.