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Breaking News: Explosion in St. Petersburg Metro Kills at Least Nine, Wounds Dozens; President Trump to Meet President el-Sisi in Washington. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 3, 2017 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:12] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Carnage in Russia's second city. At least nine people are reported dead in an explosion on the St. Petersburg

metro. We're going to get you a full update and analysis in just a moment.

Also ahead this hour, Trump's big week for diplomacy kicks off with a visit by Egypt's President el-Sisi. All of the details ahead from our reporters

in Washington and the Middle East.

Good evening. Just after 7:00 here in Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson with Connect the World. Russian media are quoting St. Petersburg's prosecutor

general who calls the explosion on the metro system just some hours ago a terrorist attack. At least nine people are reported to have been killed

and 20 were wounded in the blast. Images from the scene show a metro station filled with smoke, subway doors torn from their hinges and

severally wounded people lying on the platform.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, a second device was found at a different metro station and was safely defused. Now, this all comes as President Vladimir

Putin visits the city. He addressed the situation not long ago.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): There's been an explosion in (inaudible) metro and there are casualties and fatalities

And I would like at the beginning of the meeting to express my condolences and regrets to relatives of those who died and suffered.

I have spoken to a special services with director (inaudible) law enforcement and special services working and doing everything to find out

the reasons of the accident, give a full assessment of what happened and city authorities and federal authorities will take all necessary measures

to provide support for families of those died and those who suffered injuries.


ANDERSON: Let's get you straight to Matthew Chance who is in Moscow. And Matthew, what's the very latest you have there?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very the latest is that the evacuation has been continuing not just in this metro station,

the Sennaya Squre metro station in the center of St. Petersburg, but in other metro stations as well in the area. All the metro stations inside

St. Petersburg have been shut down. The whole mass transportation system underground has ceased to operate, causing of course widespread disruption

in Russia's second biggest city.

As you mentioned, the authorities say they have located a second device at a metro station

just a stop down from where this explosion took place. The device has been diffused and is posing no further threat to the public, but obviously

there's a huge search underway right now, as you could expect, to see if there are any other bombs or devices or threats that are left over from


At the same time, an investigation has continued. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, we heard him them, saying that he is speaking with the

FSB, the security service of Russia, the successor organization to the KBG, to try and make sure that anyone who is associated with this and the

reasons for this are determined and anyone associated with it, of course, is cracked down upon, that's the expectation at least.

The latest casualty figures, the Russians have revised a touch the number of dead to nine. Earlier, they were saying ten dead, now they are saying

it's nine. They are saying there is 50 people who have been injured, and amongst the casualties there are several children. It's not known whether

they are dead or or whether they are injured, but the scenes on Russian television absolutely horrific. The smoke filled corridors of the metro

station, the twisted wreckage of the train blood splattered on the platform and on the walls as the casualties are strewn around, a couple of

compelling testimonies coming from eye witnesses that are being reported in the media.

The people were bloody. They had their hair burned, says one individual, speaking to a

Russian newspaper. Another person telling CNN I felt the explosion wave underneath me. Everything was filled with smoke and people started


TASS news agency, which is a state news media, talked to one person who was actually on board the train where the explosion took place. He said in the

metro car everybody expected death. After the explosion, people were taken out, people were helping each other. Everyone was covered in blood.

So, it helps you paint a picture. Imagine the horrific scenes that were being witnessed that took

place in that metro station shortly after that explosion took place - Becky.

ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely horrific. Frightening stuff. We know that what happened and

we know where. What, if anything, do we know about who was behind this attack?

CHANCE: Well, it's - as everyone has been saying, it's too early at this point to make a judgment like that, but Russia has a long history of

dealing with terrorist attacks very similar to this one.

And, you know, in the past, of course, the finger of blame is always pointed in one direction, which is towards the south of Russia, the

Caucuses, Chechnya, the mainly Muslim republics around Chechnya, where it's a jihadist insurgency that's realy been underway for several years, a

couple of decades, in fact. The region has been ravaged by two brutal civil wars fighting the Russian state pitching the Russian state against

Islamic separatist in that region.

There is an jihadist insurgency around the region. It's possibly linked with that. That will certainly be a strand of the investigation. But the

other strand, which is crucial right now is, of course, that Russia has intervened in the conflict in Syria. It's kind of target number one for

ISIS jihadists and other enemies of Bashar al-Assad who the Russians support in Syria.

Over the past several months, over the past 12 months, 18 months or so. There have been repeated incidents broadcast on Russian television of ISIS

sympathizers and ISIS militants, according to the authorities, in Russia who have been planning, supposedly, a terrorist attack, a bomb attack, and

who have been thwarted at the last moment by the Russian authorities.

So, another possible area of investigation will be what links, if any, did the bombers have with

any jihadist groups associated with Syria as well.

ANDERSON: If there is an ISIS connection or a Syria connection, and as you rightly point out, it is too early to say, but were there to be one, how

will that be dealt with by President Putin?

well, it's a tricky political situation that he'll have been landed with simply because one of the reasons Vladimir Putin went into Syria in the

first place in support of Bashar al-Assad was because he was concerned, and he said this to the Russian public, he was concerned about the spread of

Islamic terrorism so the southern underbelly of Russia where there's already this jihadist problem, the idea that militants from the Middle East

would easily be able to cross over into the North Caucuses was something that horrifies the Russian security establishment and that's what they said

they were trying to do, to stop terrorism in its tracks in Syria before it got to Russia.

Now, obviously, if this is linked with the campaign in Syria, it probably will enable critics of

Vladimir Putin's Syria adventure to say, look, that strategy is not working.

But the other thing to remember is that it will probably force the people of Russia to rally around their president. He is already an immensely a

popular figure, Vladimir Putin is, popularity ratings running somewhere in the 84, 85 percent according to the latest opinion polls. This kind of an

attack, particularly an isolated incident like this, is likely to rally nationalist support around him.

ANDERSON: Matthew Chance is in Moscow for you. Matthew, thank you.

Well, as Matthew rightly pointed out, it's not the first such attack in Russia. In December, 2013 a suicide bombing at a train station in

Volgograd killed at least 16 people. The following day in the same city a suicide bombing on a trolley bus killed 14, in 2010 there were two

explosions 14 minutes apart on Moscow's metro system, 38 people were killed and 60 injured. And back in 2004, another suicide bombing at a metro

station in Moscow, at least 39 were killed in that attack.

I want to take a short break at this point. We're going to have a lot more on what is this deadly metro blast in St. Petersburg. Stay with us for the

very latest on that. Back after this.


[11:11:49] ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

Well, here is the latest on our top story out of Russia. The blast on the metro in St. Petersburg. Authorities say at least nine people have been

killed and many others have been wounded. They also say they found a second device in another metro station, but that one was disarmed.

Now, state media say the city's prosecutor general has called the explosion a terror attack. The media also say it happened in a metro car going

through a tunnel between two stations. All of the city's metro stations have now been closed.

Well, to Washington for you where a critical week of international diplomacy begins this hour for Donald Trump. Middle East peace, the fight

against ISIS, trade relations with China and North Korea's nuclear threat, all on his plate over the coming days. But as Joe Johns reports, his first

order of business will be trying to reset relations with Egypt.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump kicking off a critical week of high-profile diplomatic talks hosting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El

Sisi at the White House today ahead of a sit-down with King Abdullah of Jordan on Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday President Trump will host

Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time at his Mar-a-Lago resort for arguably the most important diplomatic meetings of the president's

tenure thus far.

A key point of contention, North Korea's nuclear ambitions. President Trump offering a vague but head-turning assessment to "The Financial Times"

saying he might act unilaterally, quote, "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will." The president tweeting last week that he expects

that high profile meeting with China will be difficult, particularly after all of his tough talk during the campaign.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what they're doing.

China is responsible for nearly half of our entire trade deficit.

JOHNS: The president's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, expected to play a key role in the two days of meetings. Kushner rapidly

becoming the president's foreign policy point man, making a surprise visit to Iraq over the weekend. All of these diplomatic meetings come as the

cloud of Russia continues to hang over the Trump administration. The president continuing to stand behind his unfounded wiretapping claim,

insisting he does not regret any of his tweet while attempting to downplay the connections between campaign advisers and Russia as "fake news."

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: I would tell people whenever they see the president use the word "fake" it ought to

set off alarm bells.

JOHNS: The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee telling CNN he's treating the immunity request from Trump's fired national security

adviser Michael Flynn with healthy skepticism as Senator John McCain calls the request unusual and continues to push for special investigation.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Every time we turn around, another shoe drops from this centipede. If we're going to get to the bottom of these

things it has got to be done in a bipartisan fashion.


[11:15:03] ANDERSON: Well, as we heard there from Joe, Mr. Trump has a very busy week

ahead. Egypt's president kicking it all off and then a couple of days from now the king of Egypt's neighbor, Jordan, will stop by. After that on

Thursday and on Friday, China's president will meet the American president.

All right, let's get back to Joe who is live in Washington. We're also joined by Ian Lee who spent a lot of time reporting from Cairo, is

currently in Jerusalem.

Let's start with you, Joe - and Ian is with us now. Let's start with you, Joe. Much talk of a reset in U.S./gypt relations. From Washington's

perspective, what does the Trump administration want from this meeting?

JOHNS: Well, it's clear among other things that this president is interested in resetting relations to try to develop, improve the

relationship with Egypt on issues of terrorism. The president has praised President el-Sisi even on the campaign trail, for his strength, even though

the president of Egypt is widely seen here by some human rights activists as more of a dictator, certainly a general, a military figure, than he is a

politician and has never been seen as someone who is on the side of human rights.

In fact, the Obama administration didn't invite Prsident el-Sisi here to the White House because of his record on human rights.

So, this administration is sending a signal about what they deem important. What they deem important is issues of terrorism. We're sure the president

of Egypt is also going to be looking for more military aid. and to rekindle, if you will, that friendship in the Middle East between Egypt and

the United States, Becky.

ANDERSON: Ian, from Ciaro's perspective, there is a parliamentary delegation traveling with the president who are likely to be pushing for,

as a number one priority, or at least very high up, on their agenda, the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood group in the U.S. That would suit them.

Would the suit President el-Sisi as well? Will that be top priority for him, to bring out of this Washington meeting?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, there's a few priorities for the president. We heard from Egypt's foreign minister saying for them, at

least, they're number one priority is trying to get foreign direct investment to gypt. Egypt's economy is suffering quite a bit. There has

been protests over the lack of medicine, baby formula as well as food. And that's something that concerns the government of Egypt is that sort of

stability, but also it comes to security as well.

And as we just heard, Sisi is likely to ask for military aid as well as corporation, or at least

talking with the Americans when it comes to security on their western boarder with Libya. That is another major concern of the Egyptians, and

also dealing with militants in the Sinai who have declared their allegiance to ISIS.

And when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood, for Egypt they're a terror organization and

I think Egyptian officials would be very pleased if the United States follows suit and declared them a terror organization as well, although that

is being considered. The United States hasn't made any signals on which way they're going to go with that.

But there's no secret that there is strong chemistry between President Trump and President el-Sisi. It should be noted that President el-Sisi was

the first foreign leader to call and congratulate President Trump when he won the election.

ANDERSON: So the White House is looking at the focus being, Joe, combating ISIS, what does Egypt get in return?

JOHNS: That's a very good question. Probably, the first thing is a friend here in the White House, which is something they clearly did not have when

President Obama was in the Oval Office. That's the the first thing. I think you can certainly say that there is this move towards stability in

the Middle East with Egypt and the president of the United States.

And so beyond that it's very difficult to say because this president has embraced President el-Sisi in a way that he's criticized by many human

rights activists, even though in some ways for the United States Egypt is the only game in town.

So, President Trump is tipping his hat to the notion that, yes, we have to deal with Egypt and many people agree with that.

[11:20:15] ANDERSON: There will be many in Washington, Ian, who will say that the Muslim Brotherhood as a group designated a terrorist organization

by not just Egypt, but other countries around the Middle East, have spent millions lobbying the U.S. administration over the years to ensure that it

is not a banned organization in the U.S.

It would be very convenient, wouldn't it, if there were a change in tone from this new administration, very convenient for this traveling delegation

from Egypt.

JOHNS: It would be convenient.

LEE: that's right.

JOHNES: Ops, I'm sorry. Go ahead, Ian.

ANDERSON: Sorry, go on, Ian.

LEE: It would be convenient for the Egyptians, because it would give some legitimacy also from the Americans to President Sisi and his government

because President el-Sisi came to power when Muhamed Morsy back in 2013 was deposed by the military in a popular coup. And there has after that we saw

the United States take a real cold tone toward Egypt and so having the Muslim Brotherhood deemed a terrrorist organization by the United States

would justify a lot of what Egypt has done. And as we also heard these human rights violations are staggering.

You have arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearances documented by human rights groups and some groups saying the

violations are worse now than they were under former President Hosni Mubarak who was ousted in that revolution in 2011.

So, we would see a real shift in U.S. policy toward Egypt if we saw the Muslim Brotherhood

deemed a terrorist organization. Egyptians definitely in the government would be happy with that.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. To both of you, we appreciate it.

Well, Senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner is on an unexpected trip to Iraq. The president's son-in-law is traveling with joint chiefs of staff Chairman

Joseph Dunford. The two plan to meet with Iraqi leaders and visit U.S. forces to discuss the fight against ISIS.

Well, 36-year-old Jared Kushner is a senior adviser to Donald Trump. He's also the president elect's (sic) son-in-law, married to Ivanka Trump in a

Jewish ceremony in 2009. He ran real estate business Kushner Companies, and in 2006 he bought the New York Observer newspaper.

Forbes estimates his family fortune amounts at least $1.8 billion.

Well, his trip to Iraq comes as the campaign to recapture Mosul drags on. Iraqi troops trying to protect civilians while battling ISIS militants

house to house in what are densely populated areas.

Meanwhile, Russia has stepped up its criticism of the United States over the deaths of more than 100 Iraqis following a coalition airstrike last


Well, CNN's Ben Wedeman joining me now from Irbil. Is it clera what Jared Kushner has traveled to Iraq now and what he's doing there?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the statement put out by the Pentagon is that he was invited by Joseph Dunford, the chairman

of the joint chiefs of staff, to basically see what the situation on the ground is like in Iraq.

Now, Mr. Kushner has never been to Iraq, never served in the military, so this is really a learning experience for him. And the statements put out

by the Pentagon so far do not include any quotes from Mr. Kushner.

Now, we know they're meeting with senior Iraqi officials and obviously top of the agenda is the current situation in Mosul where there's been an Iraqi

offensive ongoing since the 17th of October last year to retake that city from ISIS, and it has proved to be a very costly one not only in terms of

Iraqi military personnel, but also in terms of civilians.

Now the statement put out by the Pentagon regarding this visit made two interesting points, one of them is that the United States understands and

agrees with Iraq that even after ISIS is defeated, that this country is going to require some sort of ongoing military presence by the United


In addition to that, the statement said that the people of Mosul, a predominantly Sunni city, are not going to want the oppression of ISIS

replaced by the oppression of, according to the statement, Shia militias. That is the sort of statement that may not go down well here in Iraq, but

it does point to an understanding that there is a very serious political dimension in this war against ISIS - Becky.

[11:25:20] ANDERSON: You talked about this being as much a learning mission for Jared Kushner to get a sense of what is going on on the ground.

So, from your perspective, what is going on on the ground?

WEDEMAN: Well, what we have now is that this offensive to retake Mosul, western Mosul in

particular, has proved to be very difficult. The nature of the fighting is much more intense, civilian casualties are much higher now. We heard today

from the federal police, which are really leading the fight in western Mosul, that at this point they are approaching on three fronts ISIS

positions in the old city where the fighting has been most intense. And what's significant in this statement is they say that they are going to

establish humanitarian corridors to allow the people, the residents of the old city, to completely evacuate.

And this a reversal of the Iraqi position, which until now they've been telling through leaflets, through social media, they've been telling people

in Mosul, ikn western Mosul, to stay in your homes if you feel safe, but as a result of the high number of civilian casualties they've reversed their

position, now they're saying get out now because, according to the statement, there's a much bigger operation in the old city about to begin -


ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman, on the ground in Irbil in Iraq for you. Ben, thank you.

WEDEMAN: We're going to get you the very latest world news headlines just ahead, plus all the developments in Russia's second biggest city, St.

Petersburg, where at least 11 people now killed, and nearly 40 in hospital after that explosion earlier this afternoon on a metro train, more details

just after this.



[11:31:13] ANDERSON: I want to get you back to our top story now, a deadly attack on a metro in St. Petersburg in Russia early this afternoon. Let's

go to an expert on Russia, Lilit Gevorgyan who is from the think tank IHS. She's an expert on Russia joining us out of London.

And given that this blast was just only hours ago, information and intelligence, of course, only just being released. So your first reaction

to what you saw and heard, if you will.

LILIT GEVORGYAN, IHS: My first reaction was going back to 2010, the Moscow metro attacks. It seems like the way it was carried out and the recent

attack was similar to one in 2010 when at least 38 people were killed.

We need to wait for the confirmation, but it looks like authorities are moving quite fast and I'm sure that we will hear some result soon.

ANDERSON: The president in the past has talked of his grave concern about Russians, many of them Chechens, who are fighting in Syria and other hot

spots and we're talking about thousands of them returning to Russia as an enormous threat. And he has used the issue of international terrorism in justifying his support for the Syrian regime

in their fight against the opposition in Syria.

How likely is it, and I'm asking you to speculate here, apologies for this, because as I say, intelligence short at this point. We know what happened

and where. We just don't know who was behind this attack.

But were it to be, or have any connection to either ISIS or Syria, how will the Russian

president deal with that and respond?

GEVORGYAN: It's actually an excellent question, because as we said this is speculation, if it

is confirmed that it was a terrorist attack and that it was carried out by Islamic State or groups affiliated to it, and what's more important - and

again, this is speculation - if it was carried out in response to Russia's actions in Syria, this could be quite serious because as I mentioned in

2010 when the terrorist attack happened in Moscow, this was one of many attacks where the Caucasian militants, Islamist militants, that mostly

Chechen and Dagestani militants, were attacking Russian civilians.

However, if it is confirmed that this recent attack is a response to Russia's actions in Syria, then this is different. And why it's different?

Because since the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, Russians have been going through this turmoil of having external diplomatic spats and confrontation,

first it was Ukraine and then involvement in Syria.

And many Russians understood that their president knows what he's doing. He's safeguarding their safety and security. But there was a cost to this,

the economic conditions have worsened. And if the Russian public starts thinking that they got worse in living standards and now less security as a

result of this foreign engagement, then this reflects badly on the president.

[11:35:10] ANDERSON: And the consequences of that would be what?

GEVORGYAN: Well, I think the popularity ratings that we have seen in recent years could

suffer, but not significantly. Ultimately, it is about how the message to public is formulated and who delivers it. And most of the media is under

state control.

Still, some discontent that has been brewing in the country and we have seen in recent protests,

they weren't really large scale, but there were enough people to make authorities slightly concerned. I think this will spread. I don't think

this will trigger an instant reaction or a popular uprising, not at all, but it is chipping away that image that the Russian authorities have

created in recent two, three years, that Russia is a rising global power and all the sacrifices have been made for the security of the

nation. These will be questioned.

ANDERSON: With respect to those 11 who have lost their lives, of course, and the 39 who are

hospitalized, this is a dreadful attack that the images that we are looking at from outside of the station are bad enough, confusion and chaos. The

images that we have seen from inside the tube station, the metro station, absolutely chaotic, frightening. We're looking at the mangled remnants of

this metro train. We know that this was an explosive device. It was on a train carriage between stations.

Just walk us through what you know to be the sophistication of the investigation in Russia that will be carried out now, and how this

intelligence, how they will go about gathering intelligence on who it was who was behind this attack.

Because, the prosecutor general has crtainly called this an act of terror without suggesting who they believe might be behind this attack.

GEVORGYAN: Well, I think - I won't be able to give you the full details of how the investigation is carried out in this case, but I could only provide

insight into the investigations of previous episodes and this involves the metro bombing and of course the airport bombing. Obviously, the

mobilization of the police force and investigators is one thing that is quickly done checking the CCTV cameras and footage, asking witnesses,

questioning witnesses and of course carrying out forensics.

And I have to say that in the previous occasions the Russian authorities have been very quick

and they delivered results in relatively short period of time. And that's why I believe that this time around we will also see relatively quick


ANDERSON: With that, we're going to leave it there. We very much appreciate your expert analysis in what has been a dreadful day in St.

Petersburg. Thank you.

Well, CNN's terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank also with us joining us from New York. I hope you could hear the conversation I was just having with

our last guest as I pointed out the Russian prosecutor now calling this an act of terror.

We have no more on who might be behind this and why at this stage.

What are your sources telling you?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, the working assumption at the moment is this is an act of jihadi terrorism given what we saw take

place, a bomb attack against civilians inside a metro car. Clearly, a lot of concern that there was this second device found, but

the flip side of that is that could produce a lot of forensics, which may enable them to identify who was behind this. They'll also be looking

through CCTV.

But it has to be said that right now Russia is the top target for global jihadis, not the United

States anymore, but Russia, and that's because of their quite frankly brutal intervention in Syria, the fact that so many Sunni civilians have

been killed inside Syria in these strikes and that's led to ISIS and al Qaeda threatening Russia with attacks.

And of course, back in October 2015, we saw an ISIS affiliate in Egypt blow up a Russian

passenger jet, which was on its way from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg.

In recent months we've seen a string of ISIS inspired plots in Russia, notably a major plot, ambitious plot, which was thwarted in November in St.

Petersburg and in Moscow. That was an ISIS-inspired cell that wanted to carry out a kind of Paris style attack on the city.

So, the energy, realy, is going up in terms of this threat to Russia. And one of the main reasons, as we've been discussing is so many Russian

nationals, nationals from the former Soviet bloc, have traveled to Syria and Iraq, joined groups like ISIS, Vladimir Putin saying up to 7,000, have

joined. That's an astronomical number. They've become elite troops within the organization. And they've been involved in some of the major

international terror attacks we've seen play out in recent months and years, including the June 2016 Istanbul airport attack. Those were Russian

citizens that carried that out.

[11:40:56] ANDERSON: President Putin has warned many times that those Chechens that he's spoken about who fled and you've talked about, who

Chechnya and southern russia, as the Russian government went on the attack and clamped down on them who may have moved

to Syria and other hot spots, he's warned that they could come home to Russia to carry out


What are the consequences of this coming home, as it were, to Russia going forward. Should this be the case?

CRUCKSHANK: The consequences, Becky, are stark. I mean, what we're talking about here is

a threat unprecedented in the modern history of Russia given the scale of travel flows to Syria and Iraq, given that the Russian recruits to ISIS and

other groups have become amongst the elite in these terror organizations, and given the determination of groups like ISIS and al Qaeda

to both direct and inspire terrorist attacks on Russian soil.

Russia really is more in the crosshairs now than I think any country in the world when it comes to this international terror threat from ISIS and al

Qaeda. Really with these air strikes, with this intervention inside Syria, they've engaged the Sunni Arab and Muslim world. And this is also

massively energized the global jihadi movement. And that will be not only at the the expense of

Russia moving forward, but all sorts of other countries in the west. These Russian air strikes have been a massive recruiting sergeant for global

jihadis. All of us because of that, all of us are less safe.

ANDERSON: Paul Cruickshank is on the story for you of the hour. Paul, thank you.

You're watching Connect the World. Coming up, he was never invited to the White House under Barack Obama, but today Egypt's leader expects to get a

warm welcome from Donald Trump. We'll look at the effort to reset bilateral ties just ahead.


[11:46:12] ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. It is just after quarter to 8:00 in Abu Dhabi, welcome


Recapping our breaking news this hour on the deadly metro explosion in St. Petersburg, an explosion tore through a subway car as it was traveling

between stations killing at least 11 people and wounding 39.

Russia's anti-terrorism committee says a second explosive device has been found and disabled in a different metro station. According to Russian

media, the city's prosecutor general is calling this a terrorist attack.

Well, he seized power by military force and his government stands accused of human rights abuses, but those concerns aren't expected to top the

agenda when Egypt's president meets with donald Trump this hour at the White House.

Abdel Fatah el-Sisi and Mr. Trump looking to reset relations and find common ground on fighting ISIS. Sisi also wants backing for his crackdown

on the Muslim Brotherhood, a group outlawed under his rule.

Well, you may remember that Mr. Trump met with Sisi back in September, and emerging with high praise, calling him a fantastic guy.

Well, let's bring in Fawaz Gerges, he's the chair of contemporary Middle East studies at the London School of Economics. He's also author of "ISIS:

a History." And let's also remember that Sisi was the first Arab leader on I think the day after the election results to congratulate Donald Trump on

his acceding to the presidency.

What are these two going to get out of each other?

FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Well, I mean, the visit itself, Becky, speaks volumes about Donald Trump's obscene realist approach, not

just in the Middle East, but globally. Donald Trump prioritizes the fight against terrorism, hard power versus soft power. He embraces strong man as

the guardian of stability, in particular in the Middle East. He would like to establish a coalition of Arab states not only to confront ISIS and al

Qaeda, but also for the peace process he believes that somehow the Arab states could exert pressure on

the Palestinans in order to reach a settlement with Israel.

What does President Abdel Fateh el-Sisi want? He wants the United States to acknowledge Egyptian fight against terrorism in the Sinai peninsula. As

you know, Becky, hundreds of Egyptian security forces and civilians have been killed in the past three years. He wants also the Americans to

increase military aid to Egypt from $1.3 billion to $2 billion a year and he also wants to revive the Egyptian relationship with the Americans, Egypt

as a strategic partner in the region and beyond.

ANDERSON: If that's were to be the case, the Trump card, as it were, for not just Egypt, but

other Arab nations, not least those of the Gulfs, Saudi and the UAE, the Trump card would be the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a

terrorist organization. Experts tell me that they have lobbied Washington hard and spent millions if not billions of dollars to ingratiate themselves

to the former administration.

What is the likelihood, do you think, that firstly Trump would designate this organization as a

terrorist organization? And how would that benefit his Arab friends?

[11:50:00] GERGES: It's very likely because from day one Donald Trump's advisers have made it clear that they see the Muslim Brotherhood as an

extension of the global terrorist infrastructure. They don't make distinction between the Muslims Brotherhood and al Qaeda and ISIS. In

fact, they say that both al qaeda and ISIS are an extension, an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In fact, in the statement just today, one of the statement released by the Trump administration says that President Donald Trump is looking forward to

receiving or listening to what President el-Sisi has to say about the Muslim Brotherhood.

Again, as we know, Becky, the Egyptian government, the el-Sisi administration, has alrady designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist

organization. My take on it is that there's a meeting of minds between the Arab states, whether you're talking about Saudi Arabia or Egypt, and the

Trump administration in order to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

But broadly speaking I think what we are seeing now is a - what I call a restructuring of American foreign policy. The fight against terrorism now

takes priority of human rights and over political reforms, stability over political reforms.

Also, the Arab/Israeli conflict, because the Trump administration is trying to say, or basically frame the so-called, the outside in, using the Arab

states, the strong Arab state as a kind of a tool in order to push the Palestinans to make more concession to Netanyahu. I think this is why the

- el-Sisi's visit is very important, not to mention, keep in mind, that the relation between Egypt and the Obama administration were very strained.

President Obama froze military aid for Egypt for 18 months and,of course, President el-Sisi was

kept at arm's length. So, for President el-Sisi this is a new day, a new beginning. He was the first world leader, the first, to congratulate

Donald Trump on his elections in the presidential election in November. This tells you a great deal about the celebration in Cairo when

Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.


Fawas, always a pleasure. Thank you for that.

And to our viewers who are looking at these images on the right hand side, this is ahead of what will be an historic visi tfor President el-Sisi to

the White House and his meeting with the Trump administration and with Donald Trump himself. Both talking about resetting U.S./Egyptian relations

after what has been fairly faltering period era under the administration of Barack Obama.

So Sisi expected at the White House soon and we've been discussing what we believe will

be the priorities on their agenda.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. More ahead, including an update on that subway explosion in Russia. Back after this.


[11:55:03] ANDERSON: You're with CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson, it is 7:55 in the UAE. I want to update you now on what is

our breaking news out of Russia.

The Russian health ministry says 11 people were killed in an explosion this afternoon on the

St. Petersburg metro. 39 were wounded.

The blast tore through a railway carriage as it traveled between two stations. The city's prosecutor calls it a terror attack.

A second device was found at a different metro station and was defused. The governor of St. Petersburg has declared three days of mourning starting

on Tuesday. From around the world, condolences for the families of those killed and condemnation of the attack.

And we'll have more on that story and others we are covering on our Facebook page. Top stories and in depth interviews as well as arts and

culture. It's all there. That is And do be sure to like us if you haven't yet as we bring you up

to the minute news of what is going on in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was Connect the World. From all of those here with us here in Abu Dhabi today and those working with us around the world,

it's a very good evening. Thank you for watching. CNN, of course, continues after this short break.