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Mending Fences: U.S. Secretary of State in Mexico; Seven Earth-Sized Planets Found Orbiting Same Star; Hundreds of Violations During Shaky Ceasefire in Ukraine; The fight for Western Mosul. 8:00-9:00a ET

Aired February 23, 2017 - 8:00   ET


[10:00:19] LYNDA KINKADE, HOST: The battle for Mosul: Iraqi forces advance, taking control of the airport from ISIS. Next, a live report from


Also ahead, a fence mending mission: America's top diplomat is in Mexico this hour, trying to smooth over rocky relations between the two countries.

We'll cross the Mexico City.

Also ahead, an amazing discovery: seven Earth-sized planets have been found. Details about what astronomers are saying about this discovery

later this hour.

The fight against ISIS in Iraq, a shaky ceasefire in Ukraine, a border dispute with Mexico and new efforts to bring about peace in Syria: all

foreign policy challenges facing the new administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

This hour, we'll take you around the world for updates on these conflicts. And we'll see how Mr. Trump could reshape some longstanding U.S. policy

towards allies and enemies alike.

Well, let's begin with a big development with the battle for Mosul, the last major ISIS stronghold in Iraq. Security forces, backed by drones and

heavy artillery stormed the city's airport recapturing it just a few hours ago.

This new video shows Iraqi forces entering the airport grounds for the first time since 2014.

Police tell CNN they are now in full control. Security forces launched a major offensive Sunday to recapture all of western Mosul.

Well, senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is following all the developments from Irbil a short drive to the east of Mosul.

Ben, the airport now back in the hands of Iraq, it seems, just explain for us how this happened and what this development could mean for the battle


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the push to retake the airport started in the morning. It lasted about four or five hours. The

Iraqi federal police met relatively little resistance, but they did encounter the usual obstacles left behind by ISIS like car bombs, IEDs.

And the airport did come under rocket and mortar attack after they had gained control of it.

So, it's still a challenge. But it's an important early significant, symbolic victory for the Iraqi forces as they push ahead with this


But it's coming at a cost. Now, we just learned a little while ago that ISIS was trying to fire mortars from the western side across the Tigris

river into the eastern side, and apparently the mortars fell short and killed 12 civilians, including four children.

Meanwhile, in eastern Mosul, Iraqi police, the crime unit there, is increasing its effort to crack ISIS sleeper cells. Apparently today they

arrested six suspected ISIS members, yesterday they arrested 18.

So, as the battle for the west continues, it's still a bit of a struggle to establish and basically reestablish security in the eastern part of the

city - Lynda.

KINKADE: And Ben just explain for us what sort of role the U.S. are playing here? I understand some members of the U.S. military may have come

under fire.

WEDEMAN: Yeah, this is a statement that came from the coalition spokesman in Baghdad who said that, yes, U.S. service personnel have come under fire,

some have been injured, some have been medivaced, but their policy is that if U.S. forces come under fire they can and will return fire in full combat


Now, we understand from coalition officers that there are about 400 advisers and spotters relatively close to the front lines that is out of a

total of about 5,000 U.S. military personnel who are in Iraq itself. It does appear that perhaps since the beginning of the Trump administration,

U.S. forces are taking a more forward role in the fight against ISIS.

KINKADE: All right, Ben Wedeman staying across it all for us in Irbil, thank you very much.

In Eastern Ukraine, a new ceasefire just days old already seems to be breaking down. International monitors are reporting that hundreds of

violations have occurred near the Ukrainian forces or Russian-backed separatists have withdrawn their heavy weapons. The shaky truce started

Monday in two eastern regions.

With a view from Kiev, senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh joins me now from the Ukrainian capital. And Nick, just explain for us the

status of this ceasefire? It sounds like German foreign minister has pretty much conceded that it's over.

[10:05:26] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it was frankly hard to see really when it got underway. We did, on Monday at

midnight, hear some observers talk about a lull in some of the violence, but, you know, you have to put in mind, Lynda, we're already supposed to be

in a ceasefire when this ceasefire was declared, so that word has little currency, frankly, in Ukraine's beleaguered and war torn east.

What you do get counted by the OSCE monitors in charge of trying to keep a handle on the violence on that very volatile frontline are the number of

violations that they see. Now, sometimes it's in the 600 to 900 level we've seen since the ceasefire was declared, but in the last two 24 hour

periods they've been counting, that's the 20th and 21st of February, they were talking nearly 400 or so.

So, it's a little bit less. It seems allowed, some access to water supplies to be repaired. Remember, civilians living in that area, as we saw

ourselves, particularly around Donetsk's pock-marked airport, civilians living in perilous conditions there, not only heavy artillery, but problems

with water and electricity, too.

This ceasefire, though, you know, as it is in name, I think more broadly, globally, called out. The question really is what else is left as an

option for the international community. These periodic pushes come for political declarations to stop the guns to make them fall silent, but is

that acxtually undermining the broader diplomatic process? Some here suggest that maybe the case.

We heard from Ukrainian security officials just over the weekend when the Kremlin released an executive order recognizing those areas and basically

declaring the so-called Minsk accords, the peace deal that's supposed to have stopped the violence well over a year ago, declaring those Minsk

accords effectively dead to them.

So, it is extremely volatile here. The pressure is on Kiev, certainly, amongst the populists to see some results. They've said themselves, they

want to retake that land by the end of the year, one of their top officials certainly reclaiming control of the border. But when you're actually there

the animosity between those living in separatist areas and those living in Ukrainian government control, territory is distinct. It seems pretty much

irreversible, frankly, at this stage, and as we heard at the UN Security Council last night. Ukrainian officials are concerned that at some point,

Russia may continue its strategic game here, may seek, in fact, annex more territory. Of course, Moscow denies that, but we are in a very volatile

moment here, particularly given how the White House's policy on Ukraine sometimes sounds (inaudible), sometimes sounds perhaps a little more

conciliatory if you're listening to the commander-in-chief, Lynda.

KINKADE: OK, Nick Paton Walsh, it's good to have you there on the ground in Kiev. Thank you very much.

Well, Mexico is pushing back hard over new immigration directives from the White House. Mexican officials say they're not bound by any orders or

guidance from President Trump, and there's nothing Washington can do to force the issue. Immigration will certainly be on the table today as U.S.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Mexican officials, including President Enrique Pena Nieto. Tillerson will be joined by Homeland

Secretary John Kelly.

CNN's Leyla Santiago has a preview from Mexico City.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Kelly are expected to not only meet with the foreign minister, but also president

Enriqeu Pena Nieto here in Mexico and some high level cabinet members.

So, what do we expect that they will talk about? Well, you can expect that they'll talk about immigration, especially given the timing of this. This

is just days after the Trump administration released guidance on immigration policies. And the foreign minister has already taken issue

with some of this. You see, some of that guidance indicated that the U.S. could send immigrants back to the Mexico, and that could be immigrants that

aren't necessarily from Mexico, possibly some from central America. And the foreign minister has already said - has already said that the does not

plan to accept those immigrants back into his country if they are not from Mexico.

Pretty strong reaction given that just yesterday the White House called this a phenomenal relationship.

Now, we know that the foreign minister met with Secretary Tillerson over dinner last night. We checked in with his office today. They are not

commenting on exactly how that meeting went, but I suspect they talked not only about immigration, but also NAFTA, that free trade agreement and its

impact on the economy in the U.S. as well as Mexico.

We understand that it is also important for the American officials to talk about border security as well as the other topics we've already discussed.

But this is a sort of a wait and see on what the tone is that the Americans strike here in the U.S. - Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Leyla Santiago there.

Now, the concern in Mexico is nothing like what Republicans and U.S. are hearing from their own constituents after a rocky month in Washington,

Republican lawmakers are returning home for townhall meetings with voters. But, they've been met with booze and jeers. They have faced tough

questions on issues like health care, education, immigration. Now CNN's Ryan Young looks at how tempers have been boiling over.


[10:10:09] KINKADE: Well, now to some other stories on our radar, protests broke out in Washington after the White House dropped Obama-era guidance on

transgender students choose which bathrooms they want to use.

The administration says the policy should be decided by the state.

Outside Washington, up to 10,000 people are attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. Various

politicians and Trump administration figures are addressing the crowd and they're holding their some panel discussions.

U.S. President Donald Trump is set to speak there on Friday.

Well, still to come, after a freeze in negotiations, Syria's warring sides are giving peace talks another try. While that happens in Geneva, the

conflict poses a foreign policy challenge in Washington for President Trump. We'll take a look at that story just ahead.

And does alien life really exist? We're talking about a brand new discovery by NASA that could finally bring us closer to answering that age

old question. Stay with us for that report.


KINKADE: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me, Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.

Well, right now, representatives of the warring sides in Syria are in Geneva Switzerland. They're holding meetings with this man, UN envoy

Stafan de Mistura. They're trying to revive peace talks, which collapsed last year. Russia's intervention in the conflict is proving to be pivotal

for the Assad government. And that poses some key challenges to the United States and the Trump administration as CNN's international diplomatic

editor Nic Robertson explains.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Splitting the atom may be easier than dividing this axis. Yet, attempting to separate Iran and

Russia over Syria may be Presidnet Trump's most fundamental foreign policy challenge.

FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: If Donald Trump collaborates with Russia against ISIS. This basically he is on the same side of Russia

and Assad.


GERGES: And Iran, and Hezbollah.

ROBERTSON: Taken at his word, Iran disastrous deal. Putin smart. Assad bad. ISIS we cannot let this evil continue. Highlights his dilemma.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks, that's called an asset.

ROBERTSON: If relations with Russia over Syria are to improve, it will be a delicate balance.

GERGES: You cannot basically get rid of ISIS or al Qaeda without a political settlement in Syria itself. And this basically forces - will

force Donald Trump to deal with the question of the future of Assad.

[10:15:05] ROBERTSON: And not just Assad, Iran, too. Republicans and regional allies like Saudi will balk at any appeasement.

GERGES: What you have in the Middle East today, in the greater Middle East is a fierce cold war between Iran, Shia dominated Iran, and Sunni dominated

Saudi Arabia and its allies.

ROBERTSON: Since George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, Iranian influence there has bolted to historic highs. A so-called Shia crescent runs from

Tehran through Baghdad through Assad's Damascus, all the way to Hezbollah in Lebanon: an existential threat for Israel.

But the Russia-Iran conundrum is only part of Trump's Syria puzzle, Turkey and the Kurds, both allies of the U.S., Turkey calls the Kurds terrorists.

GERGES: One of the major reasons why Turkey has turned to Russia, because Turkey is very upset that the Obama administration is relying on the Kurds.

ROBERTSON: So, that question again. With so many cards in Putin's hand, what does a deal look like? Putin wants recognition of his power in Syria,

sanctions lifted over his seizure of Crimea and incursion into Ukraine, and NATO to step away from Russia's border.

That alone is a tall order.

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATES: We must also be clear eyed about our relationship with Russia. Russia today poses a danger.


KINKADE: Well, our Nic Robertson is in Istanbul and joins us now live. Nic, so many competing ideas there. We know that peace talks have resumed,

but it really does sound like the UN special envoy to Syria is not expecting to make much progress. Why is he so pessimistic. You touched on

a little bit there in your report.

ROBERTSON: Yeah. I mean, look, one of the fundamentals here is this is the dilemma that faces President Trump at the moment. All those issues and

he hasn't yet formulated a policy for his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to engage with the Syria peace process.

You know, his predecessor, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was a key player behind the scenes of that peace process. It was very much Russia

and the United States behind - standing behind, if you will, the UN special envoy Stefan de Mistura. De Mistura today, you know - last weekend in

Munich and yesterday speaking to journalists was explaining that, you know, the United States doesn't have a clear policy towards Syria and that makes

the process much harder, much more difficult, a lot of uncertainties in it.

He said this is way different to where we were a year ago where it was the United States and Russia that were the sort of key - taking the key

leadership role, now you're in a situation where it's Iran, Russia, and Turkey that are the sort of key players behind the scenes.

But in essence, how can this peace process for Syria go forward without a clear position from the United States. This is - that's just one tiny part

of the conundrum. But as we saw in that report, the choices for President Trump are very tough choices.

KINKADE: And while those peace talks get underway in Geneva. Let's talk about the front line. There is fierce battle underway right now for al-

Bab, a key ISIS stronghold in northern Syria. What's the latest on the battle there?

ROBERTSON: Well, there for about the past two months you have had moderate Syrian forces backed by Turkish forces fighting to take the town from ISIS.

This is perhaps ISIS's third biggest stronghold after Raqqa and Deir ezZor inside Syria. It would be a significant loss for ISIS if it falls. The

rebels say that it has, the Turkish government is being a bit more standoffish about being declarative. But if it does, it potentially opens

the door as a route to get to Raqqa, which is obviously the heartland, the capital, if you will, for ISIS.

So, strategically it's potentially important, but what it does show is a great influence and role in the conflict there that Turkey is playing and

of course that would be reflected at the negotiations, because Turkey behind the scenes has a bigger role to play. It can essentially really

leverage. And this is what's got these peace talks underway, if you will, is Turkey's position - ability, if you will, to sort of influence the

rebels and get a ceasefire of some sort, shaky, partial, whatever, getting that to hold a little bit. I mean, these are all incremental steps, but

the talks that were held in Astana in Kazakhstan by - that were held in Astana in Kazakhstan by - that were essentially put in place by Russia and

Turkey was a key player there and remains. And this is essentially what we're seeing on the ground as well.

KINKADE: OK. Nic Robertson, we'll have to leave it there. Appreciate your analysis on all of that. Thank you.

ROBERTSON: A key U.S. ally in the region is also watching closely to see what happens next in Syria. In Israel there are concerns that as Assad's

forces roll back the rebels, Hezbollah will gain ground on Israel's border.

CNN's Ian Lee has this report.


[10:20:15] IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Olly (ph) initially didn't know what hit him, a rocket slamming into him and a friend shredding

his arm, killing his friend.

Family members rushed Olly (ph) to the border with Israel.

"I was always told Israel is our enemy," he tells me from his bed at the Naharia (ph) hospital.

We're concealing his identity for his safety back home.

This 24-year-old Syrian man was hit by an unknown explosive. We learn little about who he is, only that he trekked for hours on horseback before

arriving at the border. Unlike Olly (ph), doctors here saved his arm.

These are just two of the 3,000 Syrians treated in Israel over the past few years. Civilians as well as fighters. But the shifting sands of the Syrian

civil war may soon make aiding the injured impossible. Gone would be the rebels on the border. In their place? An Israeli nightmare and a familiar


PETER LERNER, ISRAEL ARMY SPOKESMAN: Hezbollah is a main threat for the state of Israel. They are tied up in Syria today, but they have not put

down those arms that are point towards Israel.

LEE: The Lebanese militants fight alongside the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Both forces are on the front foot, gaining territory

along the border with Israel. Israeli officials believe that in return for Hezbollahs' support, Syria is smuggling advanced weapons to their ally in

Lebanon. Several times in recent months, Syrian state media has alleged Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, believed to be targeting arms bound for

Lebanon. Israel never comments.

The Israeli army has fought with Hezbollah before. Nitzan Nuriel commanded troops during the two wars in Lebanon. He watches Syria with nervous eyes.

BRIG. GEN. NITZAN NURIEL, ISRAELI ARMY (RET.): They gain a lot of operational experience. They are fighting for three years. They study new

things. They know how to coordinate artillery. They know how to coordinate air support. More concern is the fact that they put the hands

on some chemical weapons system.

LEE: It's more than 10 years now since the last war. As for the next, Nuriel says it's not a matter of if, but when.

NURIEL: It is not going to be easy, and it's not going to be fun, it's going to be very interesting.

LEE: The hospital in Naharia (ph) is prepared for that war, too. The manager shows me a special bunker, strong enough to sustain rockets and

chemical attacks.

As for Olly (ph), I asked what he thinks of Israel now.

A broad smile crosses his face. He tells me, they're very nice people.

Ian Lee, CNN, at the Naharia (ph) hospital, in northern Israel.


KINKADE: Well, Malaysia has asked INTERPOL to put out an alert for four North Korean suspects wanted in connection with the death of Kim Jong-nam.

The half-brother of North Korea's leader died after an apparent poisoning attack at Kuala Lumpur airport last week. Alexandra Field reports on the

heightened tensions between North Korea and Malaysia in the wake of Kim's death.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An international battle over the body of Kim Jong-nam. North Korea wants the body back, but it's still on

Malaysian soil under close watch at a morgue in Kuala Lumpur after someone staged a break-in. Authorities won't say who.

Malaysian authorities are refusing to release Kim Jong-nam's body from the morgue inside this hospital without identification from a family member or

a DNA sample. They say they've requested a sample from the North Koean embassy and that that DNA could come from any of Kim's relatives, including

his half-brother, North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un, something North Korea is not providing.

North Korean state news agency KCNA is going after Malaysian officials in their first report on the matter some 10 days after Kim's death. KCNA

argues responsibility for the death rests with the Malaysian government because he died, quote, in its land.

KCNA is casting doubt on the investigation into the suspected poisoning at Kuala Lumpur's airport, alleging secret police got involved following South

Korean media reports. This CCTV video appears to show the moment Kim Jong- nam was attacked by two women putting poison on his face at the Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13. Airport cameras capture Kim Jong-nam

reportedly asking for medical help. He died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

North Korea's ambassador claims he was told by Malaysian authorities Kim died of, quote, a heart stroke, a statement from his office says Malaysia's

investigation now continues under the delusion that the female suspects had dabbed the poison on the victim's face with their own hands. Then how is

it possible that these female suspects could be alive after the incident, he asks?

One of the women told authorities she thought she was taking part in a prank, but police here say both were trained to kill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These two ladies were trained to swab the deceased face. Before that, the four suspects were give them the liquid, were put

the liquid on their hands. They're supposed to wipe it over deceased face.

FIELD: Malaysia is asking INTERPOL to issue an alert for those four suspects, North Korean men who are believed to be back in Pyongyang. And

authorities are looking in Malaysia for three more North Koreans.

They sent a request to the North Korean embassy to question two of the men, the embassy's second secretary and an employee of North Korea's airline:

Air Corio (ph). North Korea is demanding the release of one of its citizens already in custody in connection with the attack along with the

release of the Indonesian and Vietnamese women suspected in it.


[10:26:13] KINKADE: Well, live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World. Coming up, European leaders are trying to decipher mixed messages from the

White House on relations with the European Union. We're live in Berlin for that story.

Also, a game changing discovery. We'll tell you all about the seven new planets NASA has found and why they may be potentially fit for alien life.



[10:30:24] KINKADE: Well, for more on all of this, let's go to CNN Money's Maggie Lake who is at the New York Stock Exchange. Good to have you with


Just explain for us the reason for such a record run.

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN MONEY: A little bit of a combination of things, Lynda. First of all, we have seen an improvement in both the economy and earnings

that is helping underpin some of what we are seeing, but a lot of this is based on the hope that the Trump administration is going to be able to push

through some very business friendly policies, including tax reform. And in that read tax cuts for businesses, spending on infrastructure, maybe

reducing regulation burdens, especially on the financial sector. So when you put that all together, if he were able to get it through congress, that

would be an incredibly sort of powerful force for businesses. They really think it would help boost their bottom line and spark economic growth.

So, some of this is based on what's happening now. But an awful lot of it is on the hope that they're going to be able to get something done in D.C.

KINKADE: A lot of hope riding on this.

And of course, Maggie, generally speaking what goes up must come down. When we've looked at these sort of streaks in the past, what generally


LAKE: Yeah, you know, it's hard to compare because so many things are different. A lot of people are talking about the fact that if we closed in

record territory again - and by the way, it's looking a little difficult, because we started up, but we've been sort of pairing those gains a little

bit here in the morning, but if we close in record territory, it would be the 10th time we've done that in a row. You have to go back to all the way

to 1987 to see that happen. And if you were lucky enough to be around in 1987, you may remember it was the best of time, but the worst of time,


We had a really powerful rally that matched this winning streak, but then we also had a really painful selloff in the market that a lot of people

remember as well. Is that going to happen this time? There's absolutely no indication again very different forces driving this market.

But you do want to be a little bit cautious. This has been a very rapid and one way rally. And a lot of it, as we mentioned, based on hope. Can

it go backward? Can we see some of these gains evaporate? Of course we can. And that's why you always sort of have to look at your portfolio and

when you may need this money to determine how risky you want to be.

So, not necessarily repeat of history, but certainly a lot of caution underneath some of these record closes we're seeing, Lynda.

KINKADE: And what sort of industries and stocks are doing best today?

LAKE: Oh, well, as I just mentioned, we are certainly, you know, throughout this entire rally watching very much financials. They have been

driving it when you look at maybe the prospects of what's going to happen coming from the White House.

We've seen energy coming back into a leadership role.

But when you look at the earnings and economy story we talked about before, you are seeing some of the - you know, some of the powerhouse names in

technology also helping lend support. We've been talking about the fact that Apple has been hitting its record closes recently.

So, it's a little bit spread out. Again, some of it based on the earnings we're seeing, and some of it based on the potential benefit that may come

from D.C., but that's where the leadership has been.

KINKADE: all right, Maggie Lake, lots of hope there. We'll see how it pans out the rest of the day. Thanks so much.

LAKE: Sure thing.

KINKADE: Well, U.S. President Donald Trump is set to meet with executives from the manufacturing industry at the White House very shortly. And there

will be a lot of big names in the room, including the heads of Dell, General Electric, and Lockheed Martin.

Now, you can see the room all set up ready to go. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin

are expected to attend as well.

We will have the big news lines coming out of this story right here for you on CNN. So, don't go anywhere.

Well, for now let's get back to President Trump's foreign policy challenges. There are concerns in Europe about mixed messages coming out

of the White House. Sources say White House strategist Steve Bannon told the German ambassador that the European Union is a flawed institution.

That conversation came just one week before Vice President Mike Pence tried to reassure European leaders of America's support.

CNN's Atika Shubert is in Berlin to walk us through all of this. Atika, some pretty contradictory positions coming out of the Trump administration.

What should the EU believe?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what Germany is particularly worried about of course going forward is how all of this

might affect actual concrete policy. They've gotten some reassurance from Vice President Pence and other administration officials who have come

through Europe. They have reiterated or affirmed their support for both NATO and the European Union. But as you point out less than a week before

Vice President came - Pence - came through here, it appears, according to sources who have spoken to CNN that Steve Bannon had this meeting with the

German ambassador to the U.S. in which according to those sources, he said that the EU was a flawed institution. And that the U.S. preferred to work

with European allies on a, you know, nation by nation basis.

I have to point out, however, that Trump administration official disputed that and said it was a very brief meeting with nothing substantial said in

it. The foreign ministry here won't give us any comment on what the actual content of the discussion was.

But this is all factoring into Germany's calculations at how to do deal with the Trump administration.

But particularly it comes at a bad time, because of course this is the year that Britain says it will be putting in its notice to leave the EU, putting

extra strain on the European Union, and it's an election year for Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel. So, there's a lot of strain right now on the

German position, in particular, and this is what they worry about.

KINKADE: And There are not just the election, how about several elections throughout Europe underway. What do these sort of comments do for the far

right movement that is pushing this nationalistic populist movement?

SHUBERT: Well, you know, according to the sources who spoke to us about that meeting between Steve Bannon and the German ambassador, he, according

to them, Bannon specifically pointed to this nationalist, populist movement that we have seen in multiple countries, and particularly those countries

affected by elections this year - The Netherlands, France, and Germany.

So, it might seem galvanizing to some of those parties, particularly for Front National, the party of Marine Le Pen, who has done very well recently

in the polls and is very - has pushed specifically for a referendum to leave the EU.

So, it may give them some support. On the other hand, other officials have said, you know, this goes to show that the EU needs to band together.

So, it will be interesting to see what happens at the actual polls. The Netherlands will be the first test of that on March 15. That's when we

will see people voting there. It'll be interesting to see what the top issues are and how they vote?

KINKADE: It certainly will be. Will be watching it closely. Atika Shubert, good to have you with us. Thank you.

Well, the search for extra-terrestrial life has fascinated mankind of decades, and even taken a starring role in pop culture. You won't - you

will, of course, remember the science fiction film ET and of course Independence Day, which helped launch Will Smith's movie career. Well, we

could finally be one step closer to learning if there's life on other planets. NASA astronomers have discovered seven planets similar in size and

temperature to Earth.

Now, for more let's bring in Francisco Diego. He is a senior teaching fellow at the University College London and joins us from our London

bureau. Great to have you with us.


KINKADE: And a discovery like this certainly raises a lot of questions like where we came from and are we alone in the universe?

DIEGO: Absolutely. It's a major discovery to have in a single go almost within the space of a year discovered seven planets around a single star is

a major, major thing.

Let alone when those planets are relatively close to us. I mean, it's only a few light years away. And that they are similar to the Earth. That's

the most relevant thing.

Yes, it is very exciting.

KINKADE: Sir, just explain for us how this discovery came about?

DIEGO: There is a telescope called TRAPPIST, which means the Transit Planetary and Planitssimal Small Telescope, that's the acronym. It is

small. It's about - I don't know, the diameter of 60 centimeters like the ones we have in our (inaudible) in London. 60 centimeter telescope,

robotic telescope, operated from Belgium and the telescope is in Chile. And it made three discovery of three planets going in front of this very, very

faint star. And that was about a year ago.

And then later on, we have more instruments, more telescopes, base telescopes, the (inaudible) telescope, for example, the VLT in Chile, the

William Herschel telescope in the Canary Islands. We have a variety of telescopes that have been discovering more and more planets until we have

the number of seven.

KINKADE: We're just looking at some quite beautiful pictures at NASA has released what these planets may look like based on what they know about


You said these planets are very close by. I understand they're 40 light years away. So, using the rockets we have now, how long would it take to

reach them?

DIEGO: Oh, it's completely out of the question. It is unachievable. We would take thousands of years to get there and the interstellar travel, as

much as the films and all the science fiction that we have seen may talk about that, we are very far away from interstellar travel. So, to get

there I think for the time being - I mean, for the next few hundreds years, I would say forget it.

[10:40:11] KINKADE: All right, so it's going to take awhile to get there.

But in the meantime, scientists are trying to figure out if there is water on these planets. How do they go about doing that?

DIEGO: Yes. Well, what happens, when the planet goes in front of the star, part of the - and this is how they were discovered, part of the light of

the star has been absorbed by the planet. And then the star dims a little bit and this is how they detect the planet. But the atmosphere around the

planet, that atmosphere is going to make a signature in the kind of light that will come from the star and that signature may give us an idea what

chemicals are in any possible atmosphere there.

Once we have the atmosphere, then we can have an idea what is the pressure of that atmosphere. The pressure is good enough, knowing that the planet

is at the right distance from the star, which allows enough heat to preserve liquid water on the surface of the planet, then we have the

conditions of having liquid surface on that planet. The combination of the temperature from the star and the atmospheric pressure.

Now, I must say all these planets that are very close to their star. I mean, this is a miniature solar system, actually. We are talking about

planets, which are very, very close, much closer than Mercury is from our sun, so all these planets that orbit so close to their model star are what

we call tidally locked, which means that their gravity is - the gravity of the star is preventing the planet from spin. So, that's what we're seeing

in this animation, we have now in front of us. We see the planet spinning, but with respect to the star, but doesn't spin itself, so to speak. If

you're in one hemisphere of the planet, you always see the star. If you're on the other hemisphere, you never see the star.

So, it is a very difficult condition for life to emerge and to flourish.

If you may say, well, in the terminator, which is the line dividing day and night on the planet, you may have some kind of transition sun when you can

have the best of everything, but that's only a very small area.

So, it's a very difficult condition for developed life.

Primitive life, probably yes, at the level of bacteria probably yes.

KINKADE: So, half of the planet is always in darkness, half the planet always in light. And you believe that only life could exist possibly in

that twilight zone?

DIEGO: In the twilight zone, yeah.

KINKADE: Right. Just so at this stage, how much hope is there for NASA and the future of finding like life on these planets. How long could it


DIEGO: The next step is to use more powerful telescopes. We have now the extremely large telescope from Europe that is going to be mounted also in

Chile with nearly 30 meters, no 37 meters in diameter, very powerful telescope. And of course we have the James Webb from NASA, James Webb

space telescope, the JWST that will be launching in about two or three years time. And that telescope will be able to characterize in the way I

describe this kind of absorption of light by the atmosphere, so the planets. At that point, we will be in better condition to tell more about

the conditions for life in these places.

KINKADE: And in our opinion, do you think there could be alien life on this planet, on any of these planets?

DIEGO: At the level of microscopic life, yes. Bacteria, yes. We know that bacteria appear on Earth very early in the formation of the Earth, in

only a few hundred million years. Remember, the Earth is 4,500 million years old. So, in the very first stages of the Earth formation we have

bacteria already.

And bacteria thrive in very difficult conditions on Earth in what we call (inaudible) that thrive in very acidic conditions in Antarctica, in

Yellowstone, for example. So, primitive life is relatively resilient and thrives in very difficult conditions. That may be the case in planets like


In other places in the solar system as well, could be the moon, could be Mars, could be the moons of Jupiter. But more developed life very, very,

very difficult.

KINKADE: All right, Francisco Diego, we'll have to leave it there. Very exciting times ahead. Thanks so much.,

DIEGO: Thank you. Pleasure.

KINKADE: Well, you're watching Connect the World. Still to come, the fight against human trafficking.

Now, an English teacher in Vietnam became a hero to girls who were kidnapped and sold as bribes in China. We'll have that story just ahead.


[10:46:50] KINKADE: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.

Well, in Vietnam, towns near the border with China have become a hunting ground for human traffickers. Years ago, Ben Randall was teaching English

in one of those towns when some of his students were kidnapped. He decided to help rescue them. Kristie Lu Stout has more on his harrowing journey.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They come and they run and they catch me and they grab my arm like now I'm going to kidnap you and you will be my wife.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was 2010 in Sapa (ph), Vietnam when three girls, part of the Hmong ethnic minority, went

missing. Ben Randall, an Australian on furlough, had been teaching them English at the time and he wanted to help.

BEN RANDALL, FOUNDER, THE HUMAN EARTH PROJECT: But I thought if we did find the girls that that would be the end of the story, but in fact that

turned out to be just the beginning.

LU STOUT: Soon, Randall learned one of the girls had managed to get a cell phone. She called a Vietnamese aid group Blue Dragon to inform them she and

two other girls had been grabbed and put on the back of motorcycles. She'd escaped, but did not know where the others had been taken.

In this agrarian town just south of China's Hunan (ph) province, locals estimate more than 100 girls go missing each year. And their fate often to

be sold as brides or worse.

RANDALL: There are still some cultural practices that are actually quite harmful to these girls and facilitate trafficking.

LU STOUT: This footage, shot by a colleague of Randall, shows the practice of ceremonial bridge kidnappings, a traditions, which can sometimes lay

cover for more deviant behavior. Family pressure to get married means Hmong girls are susceptible to what can be aggressive courting, even

entertaining offers of marriage from strangers, which human traffickers use to their advantage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The boy, they are just like telling us we will love you and we will want to marry you for sure. Just speaking like this. And

after them they just bring their people to stay in China.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hate people who is coming here and stealing the girl to sell in China. I wish I can kill all of them. I see a lot of

boys, they come here want to try to steal my friends, or even they try to steal me also.

[08:35:11] LU STOUT: As for the two girls, it took Randall and the investigators from Blue Dragon more than three years to find them. The

next five months were spent investigating and documenting a way to get them home.

RANDALL: That was a very intense five months.

If I come to Guangzhou, can I call you and can we meet somewhere?

I was just doing everything I could to try to locate and meet with the girls. The journey was a process of discovering just how complicated the

world of human trafficking is and how difficult life becomes for its victims.

LU STOUT: But in their time away, both girls had given birth with the men who had bought them. Randall says while he did manage to find both girls,

one of them ultimately decided to stay in China with her child.

Looking to motivate people into action, he's now turning his experiences into a photography project and a documentary.

RANDALL: The women featured in Sisters (inaudible) my friends in Sapa (ph) are very strong-willed, very strong women, because they need to be. They

grow up in a society that's very male dominated. They don't have a lot of rights within their traditional culture. So, I set up the Human Earth

Project as a photography project to raise awareness of human trafficking in Asia and around the world.

[10:50:19] LU STOUT: A thoughtful lesson born from heartbreak.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN.


KINKADE: Well, CNN is teaming up with young people around the gloves fr a day of action against modern-day slavery. My Freedom Day is on March 14.

Driving the day is this simple question, what does freedom mean to you.

You can send us your answer via text, photo, or video across social media using the hashtag #myfreedomday.

Well, Connect the World continues after the short break. Stay with us.


KINKADE: You're watching CNN and this is Connect the World. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.

Well, most people struggle to eat the five daily servings of fruit and vegetables recommended by man doctors. Well, now nutrition experts are

raising the bar even higher, suggesting 10 portions. Researchers at Imperial College London say that's the magic number to give you the best

protection from early death.

CNN's Max Foster took to the streets in London to ask people if they could keep up with the new daily guidelines.


MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, this is what we're meant to be eating every single day. I would struggle, I have to say, to have a

third of this.

We're going to find out what the people think.

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: I don't think you need 10 really. Five is good enough. And as long as you're taking the important of the fruit or veg,

that should be fine.,

FOSTER: So, you're disagreeing with the scientists based on...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From my experience.

FOSTER: You take five on five.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I've been find with five.

FOSTER: I mean, what do you think of that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bit too much.

FOSTER: What do you manage in a day yourself?


FOSTER: Really?


FOSTER: Can I ask you how old you are?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do think people should move towards a vegetarian diet.

FOSTER: But do you...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so 10 portions seem very reasonable.

FOSTER: Do you eat this much?


FOSTER: You do?

UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: I'd try to eat it all, yeah. I mean, think about it, that's dinner. That's lunch, that's breakfast.

FOSTER: So it's fine. You're good with this.


FOSTER: And you're going to live longer.


FOSTER: Longer than me.


FOSTER: Good luck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just juice and you'll be fine.

FOSTER: Oh, really. Actually that's true. You can just do it in a juice. Maybe that's the answer.



KINKADE: Well, in today's Parting Shots, we head back to the Gulf where this show is usually based for a cycling adventure through Oman's beautiful

landscapes. Covering its stunning deserts and the breathtaking Arabian Sea. It's all part of the UCI Asia Tour, which helps many of the world's

top cyclists train for bigger races. Take a look.



BEN HERMANS, CYCLIST: I am really happy I could take two stages (inaudible). It's more than I could have dreamed of. So, it's a perfect

week for me, a perfect start of the season.


KINKADE: And you can always follow the stories our team is working on throughout the day by going to our Facebook page, that's And you can get in touch with me on Twitter. You can tweet me @LyndaKinkade.

I am Lynda Kinkade, and that was Connect the World. Thanks so much for joining us. We'll see you next time.