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Rex Tillerson Meets with Putin; Speculation Over North Korea Ahead of Day of the Sun Celebrations. 11:00a-12:00p ET

Aired April 12, 2017 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:14] LYNDA KINKADE, HOST: Face-to-face, America's top diplomat meeting with his

Russian counterpart amid heightened tensions between the two countries over Syria.

Next, we'll have live reports from Moscow and the Turkish-Syrian border.

Also ahead...


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This North Korean news reader saying we are not intimidated.


KINKADE: Defiant despite Donald Trump's show of force, North Korea warns of a nuclear strike if provoked. Ahead, reports from North and South


And in South Africa, thousands rally against President Jacob Zuma calling for him to step

down. We'll have the latest from Victoria, coming up.

Hello. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Welcome to Connect the World. We begin in Moscow where talks

between America and Russia's top diplomats have begun in quite an undiplomatic way.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is trying to persuade the Kremlin to abandon its Syrian

ally. But with tensions strained over an American airstrike on a Syrian airbase last week, Moscow started the talks with a rather frank warning.

Don't do it again. But whatever the differences, the two powers may have in their approach to Syria, Tillerson says he's keen to find common ground.


REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Our meetings today come at an important moment in the relationship so that we can further clarify areas

of common objectives, areas of common interests, even when our tactical approaches may be different and to further clarify, areas of sharp

difference so that we can better understand why these differences exist and what the prospects for narrowing those differences may be.


KINKADE: Well, the issue of Russia's support for Syria is dominating the United Nations Security Council meeting right now. These are live pictures

of that meeting. In the past few moments, the UK's ambassador has said Moscow has chosen the wrong side of history.

Well, let's get more about this meeting and what it means for Syria itself. Matthew Chance is in Moscow and Ben Wedeman is on the Turkish-Syrian


Let's go first to Matthew. The secretary of state there is set to make a case, or at least trying to make a case for Moscow to rethink its alliance

with Assad. But after that initial two-hour meeting, the U.S. was left with no uncertain terms about where Moscow stands.

Well, I certainly expect that's been the message from the Russian foreign minister to his American counterpart, Rex Tillerson, in this, their first -

or at least Rex Tillerson's first official visit as secretary of state to Moscow. He came here with a message that Russia should not back Assad, that Russia should rethink its national interests

when it comes to the conflict in Syria and its backing for the Syrian government.

But, you know, there's not been any indication at all from the Kremlin, from the Russian foreign ministry, from the defense ministry, from anyone

to suggest that that's in the offing. Indeed, Russia has spent billions of dollars, it's invested a lot of political capital, personal and national

prestige on the behalf of Vladimir Putin, as well, the Russian president, in propping up the government of Bashar al-Assad. And frankly there's very

little chance at all of that reversing in the near future.

Russia sees Syria not just as an important military base, an important ally in the Middle

East, but also as a message to the rest of the world, that Russia is a powerful player on the international stage.

And so the idea it's going to turn its back on that key strategic ally just because the United

States wants it to at this point. And as demonstrated an ability and a willingness to strike at Syrian governments inside the country I think is

pretty unrealistic. And I expect, although we don't know for sure, but I expect that's what the message of Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign

minister, is going to be to his American counterpart.

KINKADE: Matthew, Sergey Lavrov has been doing this job since 2004. Tillerson is pretty new at this job. He has been running an oil company

for the last few years. Just explain for us your reading of the situation, how they're shaping up against each other, given

that Lavrov appeared to take a swipe at the State Department.

CHANCE: Well, indeed. I mean, Sergey Lavrov has decades of experience in diplomacy and Rex Tillerson has weeks of experience. And so there was

obviously a big discrepancy between the two.

At the same time, Rex Tillerson has been, you know, a senior figure in U.S. business. He was the CEO of Exxon, the huge oil company, and he has got a

lot of experience with Russia as well, as well. Indeed, in 2013, he was so close to the Russian leadership that

Vladimir Putin personally awarded hip the order of friendship, which is the highest civilian foreigner honor that the Russian state can award someone.

And so he's got a long standing experience with dealing with Russians and that the hope is or

the expectation is, he'll be able to bring some of that experience to bear in his negotiations with Sergey Lavrov. B ut it seems there's a big

discrepancy not just in the experience of these two figures, but in what they want to achieve. There's huge distance between what the United States

wants in Syria and what Russia is prepared to deliver in Syria just like there's a whole host of differences on a range of other issues, as well, Lynda.

[11:06:04] KINKADE: Huge differences.

Matthew, just stand by for us. I want to ask Ben a little bit more about that. Donald Trump initially said that going after Assad wasn't his

priority. We certainly have seen what looks to be a shift in policy from people within his team talking about that. The question is, without

Russia's support, is a future without Assad possible?

CHANCE: Well, and that's a very hypothetical question, without Russia's support. And I think Matthew very well laid out the reasons that it's

highly unlikely that the Russians are going to withdrawal their support, which goes back decades from the days of the Soviet Union. They're not

about to pull out because the United States is telling them to. The United States is also indicating they would like Iranian influence to be

eliminated from Syria and for Hezbollah to pull out of Syria.

This is a long wish list that doesn't seem to be grounded in the reality of modern Syria, of

contemporary Syria. So this is a regime that has fared, has survived six years of civil war. It does have some popular support. It's important to

differentiate that from, for instance, the situation with Mubarak in Egypt, or Gadhafi in Syria. This is a regime that has held on. And as long as it

has got that Russian support, as long as it has got support from Iran and Hezbollah and all of

them have very good reasons to back up the regime in Damascus, it's not about to go.

And even if theoretically it were to go, there's something that everybody has to keep in mind, which is the day after. The United States is very

good at eliminating regimes in Iraq and Libya. What they haven't proven very good at is the day after. And certainly in Syria, the potential for a

real bloodbath, a bloodbath along the lines of what we've seen over the last six years, if not worse, is there.

And, of course, if bashar al-Assad, the regime of Bashar al-Assad is eliminated, who could

take their place? And, of course, the most potent military force in Syria at the moment is ISIS.

KINKADE: Yes. It's a good question, Ben, and no one has been able to answer that. Ben Wedeman for us, we appreciate your time. And Matthew

Chance, we thank you, too.

Well, China is playing peacemaker, rather, as tensions escalate between the U.S. and North Korea. Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone to

President Trump on Wednesday at Beijing's request and earned this positive mention on Twitter from President Trump.

The friendly phone call followed a series of tweets from the president that had a decidedly different tone. Will Ripley reports now in the face off

between the U.S. and North Korea and how China fits in.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brand new images of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un presiding silently over the supreme people's assembly in

Pyongyang. The man they call supreme leader sitting beneath giant statues of his father and grandfather. North Korea's two late leaders, the

symbolism is clear. The third generation leader like his father and grandfather before him continues to hold absolute power over North Korea

and its growing nuclear arsenal.

That arsenal has become central to what many here see as a potential showdown with the U.S. after a frantic series of North Korean missile

launches, this week, the U.S. moved warships, including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson off the Korean Peninsula. That move prompted an

angry response from the North Koreans overnight hand delivered to us in Pyongyang. Calling the warships "reckless acts of aggression". The

government told us, "If the U.S. dares to choose a military option, the DPRK is willing and ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S."

President Trump responded in-turn on Twitter today writing, "North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not,

we will solve the problem without them. USA." And in a second tweet, "I explained to the president of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be

far better for them if they solved the North Korea problem." Blunt words for the Kim Jong-un regime and for Chinese President Xi Jinping who made no

specific promises of specific action against the North Korean government after meeting Trump at Mar- a-Lago last week.

China is North Korea's only meaningful trading partner, but it's not clear how far China is willing to go to rein in Pyongyang, or even if economic

pressure would work. Tensions on the Korean peninsula after a highest level in years, with U.S. warships off the coast and just days after President

Trump ordered a missile strike on the Syrian government, received by some inside North Korea as a thinly veiled threat.

This North Korean news reader saying, "We are not intimidated". North Korean state media warning of a nuclear strike if provoked.

Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.


[11:11:30] KINKADE: Well, let's get a sense of how South Korea is reacting to all of this. Alexandra Field joins me now live from Seoul.

Alexandra, how do South Koreans feel about this growing threat to the north and the U.S. commentary we're seeing via the president's Twitter account?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, Lynda, because obviously the North Korean nuclear threats raise alarm bells as far as

Washington. Right here on the peninsula, however, people take it in stride to some extent. Don't forget, this is a population in this country

that has witnessed some five nuclear tests from North Korea in just the last

decade and they watched this steady stream of missile tests and missile launches.

So to a certain extent, people here regard what is going on to the north as business as usual. But they cannot ignore the fact that we've certainly

seen an acceleration of the weapons testing program in North Korea and certainly loud assertions of their nuclear ambitions. That does raise some

concern among the population and among the media, enough for the defense ministry

to come out and say that people not need blinded by any exaggerations that they're seeing by the security situation on social media.

But really, what has been the game changer this week in terms of raising the public's level of concern has been the decision to send that USS Carl

Vinson back to the waters off of the Korean peninsula. That was a sign, a show of force, that was intended to show a message to Pyongyang about U.S.

military strength and U.S. readiness. But it has also raised questions among Koreans here in the south about what exactly the White House and

Washington means when they say that they are considering all options in terms of curbing or neutralizing North Korea's growing nuclear threat.

They wonder, of course, if that means that President Trump is entertaining a military option

and that is certainly a fear for people here because it goes like this: any kind of preemptive strike on

North Korea would almost certainly ensure retaliation against people right here in South Korea, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yeah, no doubt. All right, Alexandra Field for us live in is Seoul, thank you very much.

Well, now to some developments following the attack on a German football team that disrupted one of the world's biggest sporting tournaments. CNN

has seen a copy of a letter found at the scene of Tuesday's attack on Borussia Dortmund's bus. It purportedly is from an ISIS sympathizer.

German authorities said earlier they suspected terrorist involvement. So far, one person has been detained, three explosions shattered windows in

the bus and injured one of the players.

But the team as traveled to a Champion League's football match.

Well, CNN World Sports Christina Macfarlane is joining us now from Dortmund. Just explain to us what you're hearing. This, of course, is one

of the most popular teams in the league.

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN WORLD SPORT: That's absolutely right, Lynda. I just want to update you on that letter because CNN has obtained a copy of

the letter from a source knowledgeable on the investigation. Those letters, those three letters left at the bomb blast site yesterday, just to

remind you, they purport to be from an ISIS sympathizer, as you say, and they actually make reference to the blessed brothers who were, of course,

behind the Berlin attack at the Christmas market in December 2016.

And within the letters, they make a series of demands. The two main ones are that German Tornadoes are withdrawn from Syria and the other one is

that the Ramstein army base, which is located here in Germany is shut down.

Incidentally, that army base is the headquarters for the United States Air Force here in Europe. So those -- that coming from earlier from the

federal prosecutor's office, but that very latest information coming from our sources as to what the contents of that letter revealed and who is

potentially behind this attack.

[11:15:30] KINKADE: All right, Christina Macfarlane , we'll have to leave it there. We know that the game is due to kick off not too long from now,

but we will check in with you a little later. Thank you.

Well, still to come as diplomat's talk about war and peace in pretty comfortable conference

rooms while the suffering on the ground in Syria continues with no end the in sight. Ahead, we'll talk about the human toll of this devastating

conflict. Stay with us.


KINKADE: You're looking at the UN Security Council meeting right now. Let's listen in to the Russian representative.


[11:21:04] KINKADE: And we have some news just in that Rex Tillerson is set to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Let's go there.



[11:34:33] KINKADE: Welcome back. We've got some breaking news we're following this hour. Just a short time ago, the U.S. Secretary of State

Rex Tillerson met with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Top of the agenda, of course, is the crisis in


Relations between Washington and Moscow have been strained over that American strike at a Syrian air base last week. We are expecting Tillerson

and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to hold a news conference pretty soon. Let's go straight to our senior UN correspondent Richard Roth.

Richard, there were so many questions about whether Rex Tillerson would, indeed, meet with President Putin. It was looking like it wasn't going to

happen, which would have been highly unusual.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: And he was awarded a Russian Friendship Medal a few years ago when he was the leader of

Exxonmobil, maybe not the way to treat a guest like that, but things change and through the oddity of scheduling Tillerson is in Moscow and now meeting

with Putin just as the UN Security Council here at the UN is having a somewhat ferocious debate on Syria.

And Syria will be the main topic of the Tillerson meeting with Putin and Russian foreign minister Lavrov.

The foreign minister, a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State earlier, it's not known if any positions are going to change, because here in a few

hours at the UN Secretary Council, Russia is expected to veto a proposed resolution by the U.S. and others to condemn that chemical weapons attack

in Syria on April 4 and to request an order Syrian government officials to comply with an outside investigation, getting interviews with helicopter

pilots and flight logs, who might have been in the air over that Syrian town.

For Rex Tillerson, definitely his most significant foreign mission right now about the new U.S. secretary of state and President Putin, of course,

along with his deputy Russian here who is speaking -- who just spoke here at the UN, have denounced U.S. and western intentions in Syria claiming

that the west has been supporting terrorists and outside groups to overthrow Assad and that everybody should get together for the good of

Syria. Here in the United Nations, very pointed remarks by the deputy Russian a short time ago, pointing his finger at U.S. ambassador Nikki

Haley saying look at me, you're not even listening to this political briefing here. Stop with the insults, a very upgraded, offensive series of

remarks by the - on the offense, I wouldn't call them offensive, by the Russian here.

Nikki Haley will speak in a matter of minutes. So on two fronts, in Moscow and here at the UN, six years into a civil war with hundreds of thousands

dead, Syria remains a major crisis point - Lynda.

KINKADE: A major crisis point and also a major point of division between Washington and Moscow. It was hoped when President Trump came to office,

he and his team hoped to have warmer relations with Moscow. And we haven't seen that so far. We've seen that

division growing.

ROTH: Well, I think anything with the Trump administration, no matter which side you're on, you would say things could be unpredictable. They

have proven that way. Nobody really knows what level of relationship President Trump had in the past with the Russians or President Putin. But

through events here and elsewhere, publicly, the Trump administration has been condemning the Russian actions in Syria and Ukraine.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador either on her own or in coordination with Trump and others has been one of the most forceful out in front condemning

Moscow's actions.

You haven't heard President Trump vocally condemn Russia that much. It's been people like Tillerson and Haley. Both of those two people, of course,

just a few weeks ago, thought Syria could be decided by its own people, following the chemical weapons attack, a change

in tune, and much harsher criticism of Russia, it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall, of course, and that Tillerson-Putin meeting right


KINKADE: Yeah, it certainly would be. And just for the viewers that have just joined us, just to recap, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

has met with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was thought that the two wouldn't meet.

The Russian president, of course, has bestowed the Order of Friendship on Rex Tillerson

in his former role as the CEO of Exxonmobil. And this meeting was not expected to happen. We have our correspondent, our bureau chief in Moscow

standing by, Matthew Chance.

Matthew, this was seen as a snub when it was thought that the two would not meet. Certainly things -- can we make that things have changed there, that

things may have improved?

CHANCE: Well, I certainly think it would have been interpreted as a snub, had a meeting between Rex Tillerson and Vladimir Putin not taken place,

given that this is -- this will be the state's first visit to Moscow in that official capacity.

But the fact is, it does happen and so it wasn't a snub. But at the same time, I'm not sure we should read too much into it in terms of what this

means for the relationship between the United States and Russia. Certainly this meeting that was had between Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign

minister, and Rex Tillerson, would have been a very tense one. We don't know what the details of it were yet. We're expecting a joint press

conference with Lavrov and Tillerson over the next hour or so. Certainly journalists are gathering to hear those two figures speak.

But Rex Tillerson came to Russia, remember, with the idea of recommending, advising, telling the Russians to back away from their ally in Syria Bashar

al-Assad, saying that it wasn't any longer in Russia's national interests, that they were on the wrong side of history, is how it's been characterized


The reception for that kind of proposal will not have been very positive, because Russia has invested billions of dollars and millions of tons worth

of military hardware in supporting the Assad regime in Syria. And President Putin, particularly, has invested a degree - a very high degree of personal

prestige and national prestige in making sure that Bashar al-Assad does not fall and his

regime continues, which is a pro-Russian regime, continues inside Syria.

The idea that the Russians, that the Kremlin was going to easily turn their backs on that ally

is pretty far-fetched. And I expect that's the message that Rex Tillerson would have received from his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, and indeed

from Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin where they've been meeting over the course of the last several minutes at least.

[11:41:07] KINKADE: Rex Tillerson, of course, has only been in this role of secretary of state for few weeks, but he has had a history with Russia.

He worked there as CEO as head of Exxonmobil for quite some time. And at one stage, President Putin called him a friend.

CHANCE: Well, he called him a friend in the sense that he awarded him Russia's top friendship medal, the Order of Friendship. When Rex Tillerson

was the CEO of Exxon, he did billions of dollars worth of trade, deals, with Russia. And he was obviously very well liked for that reason, amongst

the upper echelons of the Kremlin. And Putin himself pinned that Order of Friendship medal on Rex Tillerson back in 2013.

But of course, he's here in Moscow today in a very different capacity. The Russians, the Kremlin, may have expected the Trump administration, and Rex

Tillerson to have been a friend of Russia, to have been sympathetic to the Russian point of view, the Russian view of the world.

But none of that has come to pass, none of these ideas that Trump elaborated on when he was

a candidate of cooperating with Russia on international terrorism, of joining with it and the conflict in Syria in criticizing NATO, in

recognizing Crimea potentially, which was annexed by Russia in 2014 from Ukraine as a legitimate part of Russia. None of that came to pass. And so

as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson is in a very different position to the one he occupied in past years when he was a favorite of the Kremlin.

Now, he's come to Moscow as an adversary of the Kremlin and I think he will notice that

difference very clearly in those very intensive meetings with the Russian president and with the Russian foreign minister.

KINKADE: And Rex Tillerson already has met and will meet again with Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister. Sergey Lavrov, of course, has been in

that role since 2004. What's your reading of how the meeting so far has played out?

CHANCE: Yes, he's been in that role since 2004. And of course, before that, he was the Russian permanent representative to the United Nations.

And so he was the Russian ambassador to the UN. S he has a got long standing history of diplomacy from the Russian perspective. And that

means, of course, he's very focused and very knowledgeable about what Russia wants and what Russia intends to achieve.

And, you know, all foreign ministers, all secretaries of state when they're in the company of Sergey Lavrov are, you know, kind of impressed, I think,

by his depth of knowledge of diplomacy and of Russian diplomacy and of Russian objectives in particular. And I expect Rex Tillerson is feeling

exactly that.

Look, I mean, again, Rex Tillerson came here with a view to trying to to encourage Russia to back away from its ally in Syria, that's not something

that the Russians have shown any inclination towards accepting, even in the light of the missile strikes, the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles hitting that

Syrian government air base in the country. Even in the light of that, I suspect the Russians will be

very reluctant to give any impression of this early stage in their relationship with the Trump administration that they're prepared to

compromise on an issue which is to them a very, very big one.

KINKADE: And just to recap for viewers that have just joined us, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is meeting with the Russian President

Vladimir Putin. This was a meeting that was not expected to happen. It has taken place. And we are expected to hear from

the foreign minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, along with Rex Tillerson. They are expected to hold a press conference shortly.

Just back to Matthew on some of the comments we've heard so far from the foreign minister,

Sergey Lavrov. It appears that, you know, there has been some criticism of the Trump administration failing to fill positions quickly in the State

Department. And Sergey Lavrov appeared to take a swipe about that.

[11:45:15] CHANCE: He's criticized the United States for that. I think his most barbed criticism, though, was when he said what he wanted to -

I'm paraphrasing him, but what he wanted to find out from this meeting with Rex Tillerson is

essentially what the U.S. policy was. And I think he was probably speaking for a lot of people who are

watching the Trump administration at the moment and watching them sort of move between

different policies. They've been quite inconsistent on the issue of just Syria, nevermind other issues.

And what Sergey Lavrov said is that one of the things, the most important thing that he wants

out of this meeting with Rex Tillerson is a sense of what the Trump administration's policy is when it comes to Syria, but I think he was also

talking about a range of other issues as well.

Remember, as I mentioned, candidate Trump when he was campaigning for the presidency

in the United States said all sorts of things that were broadly interpreted as being pro-Russian. In fact, his administration is being investigated

for the extent to which there was collusion with the Russian government. He's being investigated by the congress, by the Senate and the House of


But he said he would look again at recognizing Crimea. He said he would cooperate with Russia over interpret terrorism. He said he would cooperate

with Russia on the war in Syria. He criticized NATO for being obsolete, in his words.

All of this, of course, was music to the ears of the Kremlin and none of it came to pass. And so the Russians, the Kremlin, the foreign ministry,

they've been left confused as to what it is that the Trump administration stands for. And hopefully Rex Tillerson will have been able to sort of

fill in some of the gaps to his Russian counterpart.

KINKADE: All right, Matthew Chance, just stand by for us in Moscow.

For viewers just joining us, Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, is in Moscow meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. He is expected to

hence his failure. We have our correspondents standing by around the world. We have Nic Robertson joining us from London, our senior

international diplomatic editor. We also have Elise Labott joining us from Washington.

First, I want to go to Nic. You've been covering the G7 summit over the past few days. Tell us about the message that you think -- that you think

Rex Tillerson will be trying to make to President Putin.

Well, he'll want to certainly appear that the allies behind the United States are United because

he'll be aware that Putin and Lavrov will do everything they can to leverage any small gap between the unity there to further their aims in all

of this.

He came away with a broad agreement, an understanding that the strike that the United States took in Syria because of the use of chemical weapons by

Assad was a correct measure. We just heard heard from the French ambassador to the United Nations saying words to the effect of this was a

long overdue - and this calling Russia to account on its association with Assad was long overdue.

There was broad agreement that the existing sanctions over Ukraine should stay in place. There wasn't an agreement to increase sanctions on Russia.

That was framed as not wanting to put Russia into a diplomatic corner.

There certainly was the British foreign secretary wanted there to be additional sanctions.

But, you know, the idea was that that would just hamper Secretary Tillerson.

I think where Tillerson sort of has that big support is the very fact that he met with those allies, but like Russia, those allies kind of want to

know what are the blanks in the U.S. policy towards Syria? The sea change that they saw take place last week putting Assad in the crosshairs, if you

will, rather than ISIS, it's been reframed as Tillerson saying ISIS is the number one issue for the United States in Iraq and Syria. It is the

primary national security issue for the United States right now goes some way to answer that. But the idea that Tillerson suddenly got an awful lot

of leverage coming out of the G7 that he could take to Moscow just didn't happen.

But I do get the sense just by the sheer volume of rhetoric and the sheer cadence and terminology used in the language that we're hearing from the

Kremlin right now, describing this as problems the worst in relationships since the Cold War, they have clearly putting up, as Matthew is so well

describing, such a very, very strong pushback to the United States.

Where it goes from here, not only a concern for the Kremlin, but also for all those allies

who were there in Lucca at the G7 and the additional Gulf allies, as well. Because it just isn't clear to anyone at the moment and quite what the next

move from Trump will be. What in essence is happening here is the Kremlin is calling President Trump's bluff, if you will. Don't push again.

KINKADE: Nic, I'm just going to interrupt you. President Putin is now speaking. Let's listen in.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): ...working level and particularly militarily as certainly not got any better, it's degraded.

KINKADE: Appear to have some problems with that sound.

I just want to go the to Nikki Haley who is speaking at the United Nations Security Council.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UN: ...drop another barrel bomb on civilians. And every time Assad try toes starve another community to


People not just in the west, but across the Middle East and the world are speaking out against

Assad's brutality.. It is long past time for Russia to stop covering for Assad. It is long past time for Russia to push seriously for peace and not

continue to be part of the problem.

The road to peace is long. We won't get a political solution overnight, but we can start by working together to actually de-escalate the conflict.

For Russia, getting serious about peace starts by fulfilling its commitment to get chemical weapons out of Syria. We urge Russia to use its influence

to make Assad actually live up to his international obligations. That means giving investigators who are already mandated through

existing mechanisms full access to the bases where the regime launched its chemical weapons attacks and access to anyone who might have been involved.

Russia talks about its commitment to a political solution. They must commit to the Geneva

talks. Now is the time Russia needs to show the world whether they've genuinely want to be a part of the political process.

We need to see a real ceasefire on the ground. We need to see a credible political process through which Syrians can chart their future. We need

see Russia choose to side with the civilized world over an Assad government that brutally terrorizes its own people.

The United States is ready to do our part. Russia, too, needs to do its part. Getting serious about peace also means we have to be honest about

Iran's role in Syria. Iran is Assad's chief accomplice in the regime's horrific acts. Standing next to Assad's generals are Iranian advisers

whispering in their ears or giving orders. Standing next to Assad's soldiers are Hezbollah militias with

weapons courtesy of Iran and the power to overrule the Syrian military.

Iran is dumping fuel on the flames of this war in Syria so it can expand its own reach. This council needs to bring attention to Iran's barbaric

acts in Syria. We need to collectively demand that Iran stop. We need to make sure Iran cannot use Syria as a base to keep terrorizing the Syrian

people and the entire region.

This council needs to be serious about peace in Syria, too. Month after month, we all repeat the same points in this chamber. We all say there is

no military solution to this conflict, but look at what actually happens on the ground. This council's relevance depends on taking action to condemn

those responsible for violence and to hold them accountable for defying this council's demands.

This council should not just say it's for a political solution, but also actively pressure the parties to prove it.

That means adopting resolutions that say what we mean, resolutions that we are all willing to uphold.

So, what happens next in Syria depends on what all parties choose to do. For our part, the United States will continue to use influence over any

party to push for peace. We will encourage our allies to use their influence on any and all opposition groups, too. We will not support a

process that gives cover to Assad while he stalls for time. And his forces slaughter the Syrian people.

And as we showed last week, we will not stand for continued use of chemical weapons. There are actions by the Assad regime that we simply won't


The United States firmly believes that a political process can work, despite the odds. We remain committed to the Geneva process. We are ready

to throw our wait and resources behind diplomacy.

We are ready to throw our weight a resources behind diplomacy. We are ready to help bring this conflict to an end. But our commitment is not

enough. The United States is looking for partners who are serious about using their influence over the Assad regime and towards defeating ISIS.

Every country needs to do its part. All of us must commit, and not just words, but also actions towards the same goal: peace in Syria. Thank you.

I will now resume my function as president of the council. And I now give the floor to the

representative of the Syrian Arab Republic.

And we ask, Mr. Representative, that you be conscious of time. Thank you.

BASHAR JA'AFARAI, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO UN (through translator): Thank you, madam president.

I hope you will be patient enough to listen to us in your capacity as president of the council for this month. I listen carefully to every

colleague and I have the right and the duty as a founding member of the this international organization to inform our colleagues of the point of

view of my government.

14 years ago, to the date, on the 9 of April 2003, the day of the invasion of Iraq, a couple of days before I was sitting in the place of the Italian

ambassador along with the ambassador of my country at the time. I attended a meeting where Colin Powell, your foreign

minister, spoke. He talked about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I was there in that session.

Everyone remembers what the heads of investigative delegation said about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, butt (inaudible) was one of them.

Butler, Scott, Hans Blix, and others.

They said that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that these accusations were a pretext to invade and occupy Iraq.

All of you remember -- maybe some of you remember - that this council decided at the end of

2008, after investigation into so-called Iraq WMDs was closed, decided to bury the (inaudible) reports, to overlook these reports and bury them in

the ground so that no one can reach except for the secretary general. They buried them in vaults and they said that these vaults would only be opened

after 60 years.

Can you imagine the secrets in these vaults?

Britain's Brexit from the European Union might have encouraged it to look for a new role for it in the world by using irrational and extreme

statements and positions in this council. This reminds us of the criminal role of Tony Blair, his role in the invasion of Iraq 14 years ago after

fabricating the lie of Iraqi WMDs, and after pushing the American elephant to destroy the Iraqi chinaware, with the brutality that the Iraqi people

continues to pay the price for to this day.

Madam President, I deliver my statement today after I have been abilities for more than three months. As I was leading the delegation of the Syrian

Arab Republic to multiple rounds of ntra-Syrian talks in Astana and Geneva to launch a serious dialogue that would lead to

a political solution led by Syrians themselves without any external interference. And that would unify

counterterrorism efforts.

One week ago, we thought that we would be coming to this meeting to inform you of the progress achieved recently in Astana and Geneva.