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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI

Police: Explosions Near BoRussia Dortmund Team Bus; U.S. Allies Fail To Agree On Sanctions On Russia, Syria; White House Accuses Russia Of Chemical Attack Cover-Up; Top Pentagon Officials Set To Speak After Syria Strike; Tillerson Arrives in Moscow for Critical Talks. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 11, 2017 - 15:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:00]

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening to you. We are continuing with our breaking news just coming out of Germany. Police in Dortmund have

confirmed that at least three explosions have occurred very close to the team bus of the Russia Dortmund football.

At least one person has been injured. We believe that person may indeed have been a player on the bus. The club, itself, was due to play, the

French Club Monaco in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. The game has since been postponed in light of these three explosions.

Let's get the very latest now with our senior international correspondent, Atika Shubert, who is on the line from Berlin for us. Atika, fast moving

developments here. What is the latest you are learning about exactly what happened?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, the police in Dortmund have just told CNN that there were three

explosions that happened apparently as the bus was leaving for match. All the entire team plus trainer and crew were on board when it happened.

They were basically turning a corner along the street there when they heard three explosions outside of the bus, and it appears that those explosions

damaged windows and injured one person on the bus.

The team has confirmed that the player was Marc Bartra and he is currently in the hospital. We don't know how serious the injury is at the moment,

but we are hoping to get an update from the police, from the team.

We do know that game has been postponed until tomorrow, so it could be that they feel that at least confident enough to carry on with the game tomorrow

in terms of security. Now police were not able to tell us what caused these explosions.

We don't know whether or not this was basically a large firecracker or a Molotov cocktail or something a bit more sophisticated. We just don't know

at this point. We are hoping the get more details.

But I think at this point, police are still investigating and trying to figure out what exactly caused the explosion and what was behind it.

VAUGHAN JONES: And Atika, this all happened not long before kickoff was due in this quarterfinal match in the Champions League. So the stadium

itself would have been presumably very full, and as you said, the team were on that bus, and presumably we are talking about 30 or 40 people

potentially on the bus and in the streets around it watching and maybe waving to their team as they enter the stadium as well. And any word at

all on any injuries outside of the bus, people watching the team go by.

SHUBERT: No, and in fact, it does seemed from preliminary pictures I've been seeing that the explosions were relatively small. They just partially

shattered the windows. It seems that the only person injured was this player, Marc Bartra and that nobody else was injured and no spectators.

The police did perform a large security sweep of the stadium. They asked everybody in the stadium to remain in their seats as they did this, they

said however the stadium has been cleared and people are now moving home.

So there was a lot of security concern, but it does seemed that police are confident enough to make sure that the game can go ahead tomorrow. That

could change, of course, tomorrow morning, but at this point, police feel confident enough that the game can go ahead tomorrow.

VAUGHAN JONES: OK, Atika, thank you. As Atika was just alluding to there, the police in Dortmund have tweeted to say that there is no danger to

people inside the stadium. Of course, the stadium, would have been filling up ahead of that Champions League match.

I want bring in now World Sport, Patrick Snell, who can bring us more from the CNN Center. Patrick, this BoRussia team was about to play Monaco.

Tell us more about the backdrop to this, what would have been a major game.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, huge game, Hannah, on the European Football calendar. The Champions League is European Club Football's most

lucrative tournament. Everyone wants to win it. Typically only the elite can actually get there and go on to seal the deal.

But this was a quarterfinal first leg tie involving BoRussia Dortmund and Monaco. Dortmund, one of the biggest names in world football. Certainly

one of two of the biggest clubs in Germany alongside Bayern Munich.

This stadium where they play their home games regularly attracts capacity crowds in excess of 80,000. And based on my experiences of covering

Champions League games in that particular city, there would have been a lot of the good-natured banter in the build up to it.

Much merriment fans, rival fans mixing with the rival fans over food and drink, and really like what we are hearing now that we are getting those

reports of Monaco fans chanting the name of BoRussia Dortmund in support of the rival, that's great to see, Hannah.

That really is a sign of football fans in this worldwide community of the global game, the game we all love, the beautiful game if you like, coming

together at just the right time.

And a quick word on Monaco as well, they are having a standout season, many would argue they have actually punched above their weight to get this far

in the tournament, but they really have a wonderful youth policy, a youth movement that we are featuring this week coincidentally on CNN World Sport.

[15:05:10]They got to the final in 2004. They were the losing finalist to Jose Mourinho's Porto back then. They lost three nil in that finals. So

they have good pedigree, but they are by far the smaller club when it comes to this particular tie, these two going head-to-head.

I know now we are supposed to be seeing this take place at 6:45 p.m. local time tomorrow, but I think surely the players are going to have some say in

this, will they be prepared mentally, Hannah, to go out there and actually play, given what we now know, and now learning.

VAUGHAN JONES: Yes, exactly. As you say, it is great to see some solidarity across the footballing community as what's happened as these

events are still unfold, but have we heard anything from any of the players or anyone been on the Twitter, because not the least one of the players is

Marc Bartra, the Spanish international. He is in the hospital right now.

SNELL: Yes. The reports are that he is in the hospital. I've not seen any personal tweets coming in from individual players, but a quick word on

Marc Bartra. He is a very talented young center, 26 years of age. He is actually a Spaniard. He is Spanish national, who plays his club football

in Germany for BoRussia Dortmund, and obviously, our thoughts and our prayers are very much with him.

The initial reports were -- our reporting from earlier from Stephan on the ground, it may have been an injury to an arm or a hand due the reports also

of the glass shattering on the BoRussia Dortmund team bus as it tried to make its way to the Westfalenstadion.

Obviously, we are desperately hoping that this is not serious, and he is OK, and as we say the players who have to focus on that game, it is not

going to easy at all -- Hannah.

VAUGHAN JONES: Patrick, we appreciate it. Thanks very much indeed.

Let's bring in Julian Reichelt now from Berlin. Julian is the editor-in- chief of "Bild Digital." Julian, thanks very much for speaking to us. What are you learning from the police, the security officers on the ground

about what exactly happened and where exactly these explosions occurred?

JULIAN REICHELT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "BILD DIGITAL": Well, we have a huge number of reporters on the ground and also looking at the pictures of the

scene around when it happened and when the bus was rolling to the stadium, to this major big game. From looking at the pictures and the descriptions

we are getting from our reporters, it happened in kind of a curve.

So possibly an area where the bus had to slow down, and the police has confirmed now that it was three explosions that were synchronized in some

way. We have also looked at pictures of the shattered glass off the bus, and the windows off the bus.

You see some remains of something that could be any kind of explosive on the street right next to the wheel. You do not see any destruction to the

structure of the wheels. So the explosion happened down there, it was not strong enough to harm the tire. It may have been thrown against the glass.

That is the picture we are getting right now.

VAUGHAN JONES: You mentioned there, Julian, that these explosions were synchronized somehow, potentially then deliberately planted. Do we have

any indication as to the level of sophistication within these explosive devices?

REICHELT: Well, what has to be pointed out that even in what is called the ultra-scene here in Germany, the scene of highly radicalize and in some

cases highly violent fans, you have never seen an incident like this. The bus of players, you would have seen the occasional firecracker while stones

being thrown at the bus.

But three explosions near a team bus is something which the whole environment of German football, which is obviously so close to so many

people's heart, and even with enormous rivalry between clubs in that area where it happened, you have never seen before.

So one thing we can say right now is that it's a very rare and very disturbing event. And three, as the team is right now synchronized

explosions with a moving vehicle, a moving target on the route where you have to be sure that the bus would go there where you have to have people

in position or explosives in position, certainly indicates that some put a lot of effort into this kind of (inaudible).

However, we do not have any indication so far who may be behind it or what those explosives and improvised explosive devices were. Again from what I

am seeing at the pictures and I have looked at many pictures of the explosions before dealing with previous attacks, it does not look like

something that would be a military grade explosive or a high power explosive, but it is certainly did cause damage.

VAUGHAN JONES: We wait to get more confirmation on that as the investigation unfold. Julian Reichelt from "Bild Digital," thank you very

much indeed.

[15:10:05]If you are just joining us, you are watching THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, and this is breaking news coming from Dortmund in Germany, where BoRussia

Dortmund, the football team on its way to play Monaco in the Champions League quarterfinal, there has been a series of explosions, three

explosions, we understand from police.

And one of the players on the team bus, BoRussia Dortmund's team bus has been injured. That is Marc Bartra and he is currently being treated in the

hospital. We should just stress that the police have tweeted now to say that all of the fans inside the stadium are safe, and that there is no need

for extra concern.

They have obviously secured the area around where this match was due to take place in that stadium, and that they are now saying that there is no

further threat. The match, itself, has been postponed currently to tomorrow evening. We will, of course, bring you more details on this just

as soon as we get them here at CNN.

In the meantime, I want to bring you up to date with the top story tonight. America's top diplomat has arrived in Moscow for critical talks, with an

ultimatum, but little else, all in an attempt to force Russia to end its unwavering support for Syria's Bashar al-Assad.

That is because G7 ministers failed to agree on any type of forward action on Syria's civil war during a meeting in Italy. And now, Russian President

Vladimir Putin is suggesting that Syrian rebels not the Assad regime were responsible for that deadly chemical attack in Idlib Province. Take a

listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have information from various sources that this provocation, and I can't call it

anything other than provocation is being prepared for in other regions of Syria, too, including the southern suburbs of Damascus where they are

preparing to drop similar chemicals and then accuse the Syrian government of it.

But we believe that any manifestations occurring should be carefully investigated and we intend to apply to the relevant U.N. bodies and The

Hague and to urge the international community to investigate these matters very carefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, before he left the G7 meeting, Rex Tillerson said that it was time for Russia to make a choice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We want to create a future for Syria that is stable and secure, and so Russia can be a part of that future

and play an important role or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia's interests longer

term, but only Russia can answer that question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUGHAN JONES: Meanwhile, the White House says Syria and Russia are trying to confuse the world about who is, quote, "responsible for using chemical

weapons against the Syrian people."

We are tracking the story from all angles. Phil Black is reporting from Moscow, and Nic Robertson is in Luca, Italy where the G7 meeting has now

wrapped up.

Nic, to you first. Did they get any consensus at all out of the G7, and if not, how has that weakened Tillerson's hand as he is going into these face-

to-face meetings in Moscow?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure. There certainly was some consensus, and you could argue that perhaps that consensus was

there already, but what there was, was broad support for the United States strike against the Assad regime, and it is understood that that was a

proportionate response that was required to the use of chemical weapons.

There was consensus on that. There's consensus as well that the current sanctions on Russia are fully supported by all of those who turned up here,

the G7 -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada, and plus those other nations Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Emirates and the

Jordanians.

That consensus ran across all of them. However, it really sort of seemed to fall to the host here, the Italian foreign minister to spell out why

some of the participants thought it was not the best move to sort of send Tillerson to Moscow with additional sanctions placed on Russia. This is

how he explained it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELINO ALFANO, ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We must have a dialogue with Russia. We must not push Russia into a corner. We

must also ask Putin to demand the credit that is up to now been granted to Assad. We think that Russians have the strength that is needed to put

pressure on Assad and to get him to observe the commitments with regard to a ceasefire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Now the talk -- you did have the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggesting that there was a need for additional sanctions.

Sanctions he said that could be targeted against Russian individuals, perhaps the businessmen and oligarchs close the president, and officers

serving inside of Syria.

So there seemed to be some support for that from Rex Tillerson, however, that was not, and that is decidedly not the best collective way forward,

but it doesn't seem to be off the table. They are talking about a window of opportunity, that is the consensus, a window of opportunity for

President Putin to decide to move away from Assad, support a ceasefire in Syria.

[15:15:11]A move towards a political solution that is essentially transitions Assad out of power, but that window, not clear how long the

window stays open, but knowing that the G7 will have a Leader Summit here in Italy in late May. President Trump will be attending that and perhaps

there the dial can be shifted on all of this -- Hannah.

VAUGHAN JONES: Phil Black is standing by for us in Moscow. There has been aggressive language on both sides of this -- ahead of these meetings.

Russia accused of being either complicit or indeed incompetent, and Putin snapping back at that.

BLACK: Snapping back, Hannah, and doubling down really on the Russian narrative that has surrounded this entire incident from the very earliest

days of the chemical weapons taking those lives in Idlib Province last week.

Russia again insisting from the president himself that these were not Syrian government weapons, these were weapons used by rebels on the ground,

and more than that expanding that narrative today for the first time to suggest that fighters on the ground are also moving chemicals around the

country to create other incidents, other provocations as the Russian president described it in the hope of drawing to strike the Assad regime

once again.

In addition to that, we have statements from the Ministry of Defense here, the Foreign Ministry criticizing the U.S. strike again describing it as

illegal and unjustified, and also insisting from the Ministry of Defense that Syria is in fact chemical weapons free.

That it's lived up to its commitments and given up all of their capability. If you consider all of that and then just think for a moment that this is

only the very latest in some six years of cover that Russia has been providing for the Syrian regime both diplomatically, and militarily.

Then it does not take a lot of thought to then get to the realization perhaps that Russia doesn't look like it's imminently ready to back away

from that support for the Assad regime, just because Rex Tillerson today is saying that he hopes that Russia will in fact do that in the near future --

Hannah.

VAUGHAN JONES: Phil, thanks very much. Nic Robertson is still standing by for us in Italy. Nic, I'm wondering who has the upper hand for these

relations when they go into this meeting room tomorrow, this is Lavrov and Tillerson. Tillerson, of course, has been a friend of Russia, does that

mean that he gets to set the tone?

ROBERTSON: Unlikely. This is a home game if you want to give the football analogy here. Russia is on the home turf. Lavrov is a very, very

experienced diplomat. Russia has already rolling out what we can see as its position on this which is that the White House is trying to discord

confusion, and perhaps there was not consensus on additional sanctions as a sort of that discord can be successful to divide these allies against

themselves.

And Tillerson goes into this with knowledge of Moscow, a strong businessman and done well for his company, ExxonMobil when he was with them, however,

this is an entirely different game. He has not been a world leading diplomat for more than the administration's length, 80 days or so.

And Lavrov and Putin have been at this for a long time, and Russian politics is a lot, it is a much tougher space than the world of global

business. So this is going to be a tough, tough call for him, but the people behind him think that he can do it, but he is being thrown in at the

deep end here, let's not fool ourselves.

VAUGHAN JONES: Yes, let's not indeed. Gentlemen, I appreciate it very much indeed. Nic Robertson in Italy for us and Phil Black standing by in

Moscow, Russia. Thank you both.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump is firing a warning shot at North Korea on Twitter and he's taking aim at the country's most important ally

as well. The U.S. has already deployed a naval strike group to the Korean Peninsula in a show of force as Mr. Trump demands Pyongyang curb its

nuclear program.

And now this tough talk, President Trump tweeted, quote, "North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If

not, we will solve the problem without them." He is making it clear that a lot is, of course, at stake for Beijing.

He says that he told China's president that a trade deal with the U.S. will be, quote, "Far better if they," that's China, "solve the North Korean

problem."

Coming up on THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, we will be hearing from U.S. defense chiefs both past and present as U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis prepares to

speak for the first time since that U.S. missile strike against Syria. I will also be joined by one of his predecessors. Stay tuned for much more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:22:05]

VAUGHAN JONES: Welcome back. Any moment now, we are expecting to hear from the U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and CENTCOM Commander General

Joseph Votele. It is their first time speaking publicly since the United States launched a missile strike against a Syrian air base last week.

They likely played a very major part in how that decision actually panned out and of course, they could shed some new light on the United States'

next move.

As we wait for that, let's hear from one of Mattis' predecessors, William Cohen is a former U.S. secretary of defense and chairman and CEO of the

Cohen Group. Sir, welcome to the program. Thank you very much for your time.

This briefing that is coming up in the next couple of minutes, can we expect some sort of clarification as to what the mission was of the United

States in targeting Syria, and indeed whether it is believed to have been a success or not?

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think that is precisely why Secretary Mattis is going to hold a press conference to clarify a lot

of not inconsistent, but certainly ambiguous and overlapping statements coming from various members of the administration.

We need to have one policy clearly articulated so that both of our friends and potential adversaries understand what the rules of engagement would be

for the United States going forward. I think that Secretary Mattis is going to lay out that this was a response on the part of the president who

was horrified that gas would be used upon children to add to all of the horrors taken place before. This was just one level of horrific attack

that was too much.

And if Assad is the father of Syria then he should be held guilty of at least tried for committing infanticide because he is murdering children by

the most horrible means possible. I think that is what Secretary Mattis will lay out and say, this is not a policy to start attacking Syria.

We are coming in much too late on that basis, but I think he will say, we will continue the focus on ISIS and should Assad use chemical weapons again

in the future, there will be a response. Beyond that, I don't think the policy has changed from what it was before.

VAUGHAN JONES: And so the idea is that to make clear a very confused picture, and it is a confused picture at the moment because we are hearing

from different elements of the administration, its chemical weapons, and that is why they went in.

On the other hand, barrel bombs would have the same effect. This is what Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, alluded to the other day.

Also we just don't know, is it Assad they are after or is it ISIS? What is your view as to what the U.S. objective is in Syria right now?

COHEN: Well, my view is that the elimination to the extent that we can of ISIS is the primary mission. That ultimately, it is not bombs or bullets

that is going to bring about a solution in Syria, but a diplomatic solution.

So I think that Secretary Tillerson and our ambassador of the U.N., as well as the spokesman for the White House is basically saying the same thing,

that Assad remaining in the long term is not going to be a viable solution.

[15:25:06]That he will have to go at some point, but right now the focus has to be on ISIS and I think that is what the administration will clarify.

We are not changing or enlarging the mission at this point, but we are going to be holding Assad accountable.

And to the extent that the Russians knew or should have known about his use of chemical weapons and hold them accountable as well as Iran. Anyone who

is associated with that, they should be held accountable with further sanctions and further international activities pointing at them.

VAUGHAN JONES: Do the two go hand in hand, I wonder, taking on Assad and taking on ISIS, and do the two kind of like need to happen at the same time

or can you sort of focus on trying to take out ISIS while leaving Assad in place?

COHEN: Well, it is complicated. Certainly, it would be nice to be able to do both, and it may be that that is the ultimate goal of the

administration, but I would think in the meantime, right now, we have to focus on ISIS, and not run the risk of engaging Russia militarily, if we

can possibly avoid it.

To the extent if the Russians continue to support Assad and his use of chemical weapons, then I think that raises it to a level -- certainly at

the Security Council and at the world international community that Russia is seen not as a power player which is to be considered.

But rather one of the forces of negative and evil in the world if you allow and support the use of chemicals notwithstanding -- I mean, just allowing

barrel bombs is bad enough. It is the absolute, you know, horrific use of weaponry.

But they have been doing that for some time, the Russians have been helping them so in my judgment when it comes time for the charges of war crimes, I

think the Russians should be held as accountable as well as the Syrians.

VAUGHAN JONES: In your judgment, the U.S. strike on this Syrian air base, 59 Tomahawk missiles, did it work or have the desired effect? Because we

know that it did not take out the runway for example and there's been a lot of disagreement as to whether it took out 20 percent of Assad's air force

or just 20 planes which is, of course, very different.

COHEN: Very different. Well, they were never intended to take out the runway. We have seen it before. Runways are easily repairable and in a

matter of few hours, it could be back in operation. I don't know whether it is 20 or 20 percent, and that is a question I am sure that Secretary

Mattis is going to be asked about and will have to clarify.

VAUGHAN JONES: Just to remind our viewers whilst we are still speaking to you, sir, we are expecting at any moment to hear from the U.S. Defense

Secretary James Mattis and also the CENTCOM Commander General Joseph Votele as well.

We are expecting for the first time to hear from a U.S. military perspective at least how this strike on the Syrian air base actually came

about and whether indeed it was successful or not.

William Cohen, if I can ask you about the U.S. foreign policy more broadly, when you hear the commander-in-chief, President Trump talk about Syria, and

Iran and North Korea and he is goading other people, countries to get involved saying you fix it or we will go it alone, how nervous does that

make you?

COHEN: Well, I don't think we have a policy, and that is what I am nervous about. We don't have a clearly either conceived or articulated policy.

The president campaigned on a policy of being a unilateralist as such or an isolationist.

In other words, let the world take care of itself, we will come back and take care of America. Well, we can't zip ourselves into a continental

cocoon and watch the world go by on CNN. The world is not going to let us walk away from it because it won't walk away from us.

And so, I think we don't know what the policy is, are we internationalists? Are we going to remain engaged in the world affairs or try to shape events

rather than being a victim of events, and so this is what has to be articulated and fairly soon.

It is a new administration with new people. They have not quite resolved what our role in the world is going to be and we have to resolve that first

and foremost, are we going to play a positive internationalist constructive role or retreat back to the America first and America only.

I don't know that any president would campaign on America last or second, but America first means we have to have allies and we have to have the

Europeans with us, NATO countries and Asia Pacific countries. So we are America first when we have our allies helping us as well.

So that has to be articulated very clearly, and so far, we have a lot of inconsistent voices coming out with different implications, and I think it

is quite confusing to our friends and certainly to our adversaries.

VAUGHAN JONES: It is the need for diplomacy stronger than ever. William Cohen, former U.S. secretary of defense.

[15:30:00] Thank you, sir, very much indeed.

COHEN: Good to be with you.

VAUGHAN JONES: And now, Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" joins me now live from New York.

Fareed, great to have you on the program. So much has been said about this window of opportunity. I'm wondering who could exploit that window of

opportunity and whether Russia's support for the Assad is now starting to wane in your view.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": No. If anything, Russia's support for Assad is actually strengthening. The Russians seem to feel

that they have been cornered.

Right after the meeting with Tillerson, Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, is going to be meet with the foreign ministers of Iran and Syria.

They're going to kind of huddle in a post crisis meeting. But there is an opportunity here. I wouldn't exaggerate the possibility, but it would be

Tillerson, the Secretary of State, who could take advantage.

Look, you have changed the facts on the ground by changing the perception that the United States is now more willing to use force against the Assad

regime. You've put the Assad regime, you know, under more pressure, albeit slightly. But these things have psychological realities.

If Tillerson were to use this moment to then try to press forward and say, we have to have a political solution in Syria, there has to be a Geneva

process where we talk about transition towards some kind of different regime, and put forward, frankly, more realistic proposals than have been

put forward in the past.

You know, Assad is not going the leave. There is going to have to be some kind of soft partition. And if you are willing to live with the soft

partition, perhaps something could come of it.

But, frankly, Tillerson is not the most schooled diplomat in the world, and I don't know that he is up to it. And as I said, it is a small window.

The Russians are very squarely behind the Assad regime. They view this, I think, as their one great ally in the Middle East. They're not going to

cast him overboard any time soon.

VAUGHAN JONES: Fareed, talk to us a bit about the choreography of this meeting in Moscow between the U.S. Secretary of State and Sergey Lavrov,

his Russian counterpart. At the moment, as we understand it, Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, is not going to extend the usual offer of a

meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State. If that changes, could that signal perhaps a change, a different steer, from the Russians?

ZAKARIA: Well, as of now, it suggests a fairly major snub, and it suggests that the Russians are really quite upset. Think about it, as you pointed

out, most secretaries of state get a meeting with Putin, and by the way, get a meeting with the head of government, the head of state, in any

country in the world.

And of course, Rex Tillerson is a man who Putin knows so well that he is, I think, one of two foreigners who was given one of Russia's highest

civilian, you know, award. In the Soviet days, the award he got would have been called the Order of Lenin. I think it's now called, you know, the

Oder of Gold Russia -- you know, there's some other term for it. But this is a major award, rarely given to foreigners, and it was given to Rex

Tillerson.

Putin thinks very highly of him, thought that they had, you know, a kind of a match. There's fascinating personal dynamic here. Trump thought he and

Putin were going to be close friends. Putin thought he and Tillerson were going to be close friends --

VAUGHAN JONES: Fareed, my apologies to you. We are going to have to interrupt you, I'm afraid, because we do have this briefing. We're going

to hear from the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Let's listen in.

(WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING)

[15:59:26] RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: So there we have the first full press conference given by Secretary Mattis and the General. You've been

watching Mattis and Army General Joseph Votel speaking at the Pentagon about the U.S. missile strike on Syria. It's the first time that the men

have given any details about the action which followed from the chemical weapons attack this time last week.

Before we go to Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona who joins me, let me just go through the main points of what Secretary Mattis said. The key points I

thought, Rick Francona, was, firstly, that they were absolutely positive. There was no doubt in their mind that the evidence showed that the Assad

regime was behind this attack.

END