Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Macron, Le Pen Enter Last Days of Campaigning; Le Pen Voters Explain Why She Has Their Vote; U.S. House Passes Bill to Replace Obamacare; Trump, Turnbull Clear Air on Phone Call; Two French Candidates with 2 Radically Different Visions; Russia, Turkey, Iran Sign Plan for Safe Zones in Syria. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 5, 2017 - 02:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:00:08] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --

(HEADLINES)

SESAY: Hello. Welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, one will make history Sunday as France's next president. The stakes are sky high. Le Pen of the far- right National Front wants France to turn inwards, shut its borders and go its own way, preferably without the European Union.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARINE LE PEN, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translation): I want us to emancipate and rediscover the Europe of free nations and cooperation. A Europe respectful of everybody's sovereignty and freedom and that allows progression on big, common projects. Yes, I will give you back your sovereignty, your power, and together we can build, rebuild a new European project.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Macron, on the other hand, is a centrist and wants France to remain a vital player in the E.U. and the world. He's enjoying a big lead over Le Pen in the polls. But he cautioned his supporters Thursday not to take anything for granted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translation): For around 10 days now, we've been bringing about this fight, the fight of the second round, which pits two programs against each other, head-to-head. The National Front's --

(BOOING)

MACRON: No, don't boo them. It won't help. You'll combat them. You'll defeat them. Go vote against them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Let's go now to CNN's Cyril Vanier in the French capitol for the latest.

Good to see you, Cyril.

France is heading into unchartered territory with this second-round vote on Sunday.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, Isha. It's fantastic to be with you on this as the last day of campaigning here in France begins. French voters are going to the polls on Sunday so they'll have two fairly quiet days Saturday and Sunday during which to make up their minds and cast their ballot on Sunday.

I'd like to bring you up to speed on some of the latest developments coming out of Paris. Just a short while ago, Greenpeace put up a banner across the iconic Paris landmark, the Eiffel Tower, which says (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE), the motto of the French Republic. The subtitle of that is "resistance." So this is going to widely be interpreted, and it is, indeed, an anti-Le Pen banner that Greenpeace has put up. Notably, they did the same thing for Trump on or close to the White House. It just speaks to the level of resentment there is in a wide part of the French electorate against Marine Le Pen, who is an unconventional candidate in many ways.

Let me bring in my panel now, Isha. I want to introduce you to Olivier Royant, who is editor-in-chief of the French weekly, "Paris Match." And we also have Nicholas Vinocur with us, who is a political reporter at "Politico, France." They've both been covering the campaign.

Mr. Royant interviewed Mr. Macron a few days ago. He'll tell us about that.

But, first, I want your opinion on how -- the fact that the rest of the world is looking at this election, how that interferes with the way French voters are thinking about the election?

Listen to Barack Obama, who is now talking more about French politics than he is about U.S. politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want all of my friends in France to know how much I'm rooting for your success. Because of how important this election is, I also want you to know that I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward. Viva la France.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VANIER: That's absolutely remarkable. Barack Obama, the French words from the U.S. president. Do you feel French voters feel the sort of weight and expectations from the rest of the world on your shoulders?

OLIVIER ROYANT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, PARIS MATCH: Not only the weight and expectations, but I would say that what is at stake is the image of France. Macron was good at portraying Le Pen has been unable to be the image of France in the world. What is at stake in this election is the election in France will be the moment when the populists in Europe gains ground, or is it when the populists in Europe will recede from what we have seen over the last months. The hanger of the voters right now is about France and about the situation in France and the world has very few to do in this election. Everywhere the candidates go, then they are meeting with anger and protests. What they have been doing the last three or four days is to try to incarnate this hanger. Yesterday, Marine Le Pen saying I am the anger of the French people. Emmanuel Macron was telling me last Saturday, from now on, I am tearing apart the anger of the French people. So this election is about the anger. And all of the anger expresses itself Sunday.

[02:05:48] VANIER: Nicholas, Emmanuel Macron doesn't strike me as an angry man.

NICHOLAS VINOCUR, POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO, FRANCE: No, certainly not, but he's had to deal with this anger and outrage which is very powerful. And he's had to say, well, did you understand really what's going on with these 20 percent, 40 percent of voters who will go and cast a vote for Le Pen on Sunday. He's had to say, well, I take on that anger, accept, and I make it my mission to deal with it if I'm elected president on Sunday. But it's something Macron has had to do, had to adapt to as the campaign has gone on. He campaigned on optimism, on hope and change, but the mood in the country is quite dark and quite negative and he has to address that.

VANIER: I want to hear from both of you on whether Emmanuel Macron is just brilliant, a brilliant politician who managed to - someone who managed to jump onto the international stage and be poised to become president in less than a year, somebody who did not have a political party, or whether he's just lucky, lucky because of the circumstances, the collapse of the mainstream parties.

You first.

VINOCUR: OK. I've heard a lot of superlatives used for Macron. Some have described him as Christ-like, someone really imbued with a sense of mission that's launched him on this thing. I would say there's a mix of talent and absolutely a boldness, ambition that has launched him into this thing. But you can't exclude the element of luck. In a way, what's brought Macron to this point is a perfect political storm. The conservative candidate, by all rights, should have won this election, but then you saw what happened. He was taken out with a series of scandals. That opened a boulevard for Macron to go all the way to the presidency. It didn't have to be this way.

ROYANT: (INAUDIBLE) -- Macron has been the luckiest man in France over the last two or three months. I agree with Nicholas. A year ago, Macron was saying Francois Hollande won't be a candidate. No one would believe him.

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: Right. The incumbent would not run again.

ROYANT: Would not run again. It was difficult to believe what Macron was saying. He took risks. He decided to leave the government and create his own party. He's a vacuum. He's in the middle of the French political chess board and he decided to engulf himself in this vacuum. He understood probably that both the running parties didn't really understand the real state of anger of the country. He said, from that moment, he said, OK, they don't want to risk - they don't want to reform themselves, the country will reform the system itself.

(CROSSTALK)

ROYANT: We have to understand that the reshuffling going on, I mean, the perfect storm that Nicholas was mentioning. Imagine the election, the runoff of the election in the U.S. among Democrats and Republicans. There's a huge hangover in the political establishment these days. What's going to happen next?

VANIER: His vision that he would have this political space in which to operate is absolutely remarkable.

Tell me about Marine Le Pen. What's also remarkable is that she, in a sense, is the candidate who is best poised to exploit the anger you have both described. There's been relentless terror attacks in France. There's been a wave of migrant that has come unchecked, unfettered, uncontrolled into Europe over the last two and a half years. There have been scandals in both mainstream parties. She, in a sense, should be doing perhaps better than she is now.

ROYANT: Marine Le Pen was rebranding herself, rebranding her party, projecting as a working-class hero. She built a very - success woman, like her. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE). In this extreme campaign, they managed - they ran a good campaign in terms of reaching young voters and reaching into the French people and being able to establish the real situation in France. What happened two days ago, Thursday night? It was a total meltdown in terms of - in front of other people.

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: At the debate. At the debate.

ROYANT: That was not expected because, basically, what was at stake Sunday night for Le Pen, is will she be able to go over 40 percent. If she, Sunday night, is over 40 percent, which means she managed to 111 million voters on her name, she will become the official position leader. Right now, she's not sure to meet the threshold.

[02:10:27] VANIER: Very briefly, Nicholas.

VINOCUR: Yes, I would like to say, in a way, you're right. All the factors were there. Everything was - all the lights were green for Marine Le Pen and she wasn't able to make this transition from a protest opposition party into one that's really ready for government. I wonder if they really wanted to win power. The debate performance on Thursday night suggests they weren't ready for it.

VANIER: All right, thank you very much.

Oliver Royant, Nicholas Vinocur, thank you so much to both of you. I'm pretty sure we'll be speaking with you again throughout the weekend. Thanks for your analysis and insights.

Emmanuel Macron might have Barack Obama's support, but backers of Marine Le Pen say he's just out of touch with working-class voters.

Our Melissa Bell hit the road to find out why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): France is nearing the end of her road. With France preparing to go the polls, we've taken one last ride to seek out the far-right's electorate.

Down in this area are Marine Le Pen supporter who is worried about national identify. Up in the northern strongholds, voters are more worried about industrial decline and poverty. But wants for support in France's cities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

BELL: In the suburbs of Paris, these two men jump in and tell us why they support Marine Le Pen in her battle against the Independent centrist, Emmanuel Macron.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can afford living in Paris, it means that you've gained from globalization. You're a part of the happy few.

BELL: So what kind of change? What would a Le Pen victory bring to France.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

BELL: But what are her chances of winning, given Macron's more substantial lead in the polls?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Human nature is such that it will, in many occasions, favor, you know, stability over change. But the situation we're in right now is not sustainable. So either we go this way with Macron and then we die. Because this is what is going to happen, we're going to die as a country, or we face the hardships.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

BELL: There's an idea of just how Marine Le Pen supporter are feeling here in the outskirts of Paris just ahead of the big day. As you have seen, they're really believe that she can still do it. For them, she represents the change that France needs. And what they say is, even if the polls are right and Emmanuel Macron does win on Sunday, then Marine Le Pen will simply be a revolution waiting to happen the next time France goes to the polls.

Melissa Bell, CNN, France.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: All right, we're going to turn it back to my colleague, Isha Sesay, in Los Angeles.

Isha, we'll see you at the bottom of the hour. Very excited. We'll have supports of Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen with us here on set.

See you soon.

[02:14:27] SESAY: I'm very much looking forward to that.

Thank you, Cyril.

And we'll take a quick break here. President Trump cheers the end of Obamacare, but the battle over health care reform is not done yet. How the U.S. Senate could change the conversation, up next.

Plus, Mr. Trump takes another shot at the news media, accusing reporters of exaggerating a tense phone call he had with Australia's leader. Details coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Hello, everyone. A defining moment for the White House and the first major legislative victory for President Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: House Republicans narrowly passed the bill that would make sweeping changes to the health care system. The measure wipes out much of former President Obama's signature health care law and was a key campaign pledge made by Mr. Trump.

CNN's Jim Acosta reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a critical first step in delivering on a campaign vow to repeal and replace Obamacare and the president was making even more promises that Trumpcare will deliver for consumers.

TRUMP: As far as I'm concerned, your premiums will start to come down. We are going to get this passed through the Senate. I feel so confident.

ACOSTA: Appearing with House Republicans to savor the moment, the president and GOP leaders were all but reading Obamacare it's last rights.

TRUMP: I predicted it a long time ago. I said it's failing and now it's obvious. It's dead. We're going to finish it off and go off on to other things.

ACOSTA: In victory speech after victory speech, The GOP was laying out its strategy to see Trumpcare over its the biggest hurdle, the Senate, where moderate Republicans and Democrats are likely to seek a far less conservative version of the bill.

House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to make the case that Obamacare isn't worth saving anymore.

[02:20:05] REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The truth is this law has failed and is collapsing. Premiums are skyrocketing and choices are disappearing. And it's only getting worse, spiraling out of control.

ACOSTA: Other top Republicans were offering a prebuttal of the major criticisms facing Trumpcare, it's weakening of protections for consumers with preexisting conditions. Those Americans, GOP leaders insisted, will be protected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you care for preexisting conditions when there's no care at all?

RYAN: Multiple, multiple layers in our bill we passed today that not only protect people with preexisting conditions but actually focus real targeted money on lowering premiums.

ACOSTA: But privately, Republican sources conceded they are now in a vulnerable positon.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: The ayes are 217, the nays are 213, the bill is passed. And without objection, the motion is laid upon the table.

(CHEERING)

ACOSTA: Passing a bill many lawmakers had not read and before being analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office, who said a previous Republican health care bill would leave millions without insurance. After Obamacare was passed 2009, then-Congressman Ryan blasted Democrats for rushing their bill through Congress.

RYAN: Yes, I don't think we should pass bills that we haven't read and don't know what they cost.

(SINGING)

ACOSTA: Which is why Democrat appeared joyous singing "good-bye" to House republicans after they passed Trumpcare.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was sharpening her knives for the upcoming midterm elections next year.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Well, let me just say that they had this vote tattooed on them. This is a scar they will carry. So it isn't -- it's their vote.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Jim Acosta reporting there.

After the health care win, President Trump travelled to New York for a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, their first meeting since a testy phone call back in January. Trump showered Turnbull with compliments and blamed the media for exaggerating the spate.

CNN's Anna Coren joins with more from Hong Kong.

Anna, while we've been talking about the warmth between President Trump and Prime Minister Turnbull, certain folks with the Australian media and folks in Australia are unhappy that Mr. Trump kept Mr. Turnbull waiting while he was in Washington doing his victory lap. How widespread is this feeling of so-called snub?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isha, opposition leader in Australian, Bill Shorten (ph), was upset that the prime minister of Australia was kept waiting three hours to see Donald Trump, but as we know he was in Washington celebrating the Republican's win of repealing Obamacare. So really I think it's a little bit petty, if I may say, of the Australia opposition leader to be perhaps taking away from the meeting. At the end of the day, this was about two leaders coming together to solidify their alliance and the bond between Australia and America. And I think there were just some potshots at Malcolm Turnbull, which happens in the Australia media.

But as Donald Trump said the phone call that took place in January, yes, it was a little testy, but that it was also a media beat up and that they weren't babies, that it was a great phone call, and that once again it was perhaps fake news.

Let's listen what Donald Trump had to say about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You know they said we had a rough phone call. We really didn't have a rough phone call, did we? Everyone was talking about this phone call. The media was saying, what do you think about the phone call, you didn't really hang up. No, we actually had a very nice call, right? Good. Now the record is straight.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We had a nice call. Got testy, got a little bit testy but that's OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: A little testy. It was over the refugee deal that President Trump had inherited from the Obama administration, which the United States would be taking in over 1250 Australian refugees. He described the deal at the time as dumb, but all those concerns have been ironed out and American will continue with that deal, seriously vetting those refugees.

As far as the alliance and bond, President Trump said Americans have no better friend than the Australians and that ties between the two countries are sealed of fathers and grandfathers. Of course, that dinner in New York marks the 75th anniversary of the battle of the Coral Sea in World War II, where America came to the aid of Australia stopping Japanese invasion. Americans and Australians have fought side by side since Vietnam, Korean War and gulf wars and Afghanistan wars. They continue to fight side by side. So this is a relationship that spans almost a hundred years. And by listening to the president and prime minister of Australia, it is a relationship that will continue well into the future.

[02:25:17] SESAY: Certainly, looks that way.

Anna Coren, joining us from Hong Kong. Thank you, Anna.

Well, stay with us. There's much more ahead. After the break, we'll take you back to Paris where campaigning in the French presidential election is down to its final hours.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:28:56]SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay

The headlines this hour.

(HEADLINES)

France's presidential election is coming down to the wire Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are in their final day of campaigning. Sunday's election is basically a referendum whether France should stay in the European Union. Macron wants to stay in the E.U., Le Pen does not. The two candidates trying one last time to sway undecided voters.

Let's go to our Cyril Vanier, who is standing by in Paris as the two candidates try one last time to sway undecided voters.

Cyril?

[02:30:02] VANIER: Isha, it's good to be with you today as the final day of campaigning in the French presidential election begins. It's still early here, 8:30 in the morning French time.

And I want to give you a sense of how people here are making up their minds and what they like about the two remaining candidates, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

I'm joined by two French voters, is a supporter of Emmanuel Macron. She has a very interesting story as to how she came to support him. You hear about that in a second. And Guy is with us. He supports Marine Le Pen.

Guy, first question to you.

Is it hard to be a Le Pen supporter? For a long time, there's been a taboo in France about voting for the National Front.

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: Yes, that question is very interesting. No, it's very easy because the truth, how we see things in France, all people live in France give us the real faith to support Marine Le Pen.

VANIER: You understand the criticism of Marine Le Pen, and a lot of it stems from her father and years of politics coming from the far right. There's a suspicion of xenophobia around the National Front.

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: The racism question, you talk about racism. That's a big question, but I hope, all things I can say the racist pressure, it's a joke. It's a really joke. It's a strategy fueled by the other side to fight against Marine Le Pen.

VANIER: Accusing Marine Le Pen of perhaps having racist ideas is a political strategy?

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: Oh, yeah, political strategy, exactly, yeah. So Marine Le Pen, she's not racist. She's really not racist. She just wants to protect French people. And --

VANIER: What is the biggest reason that you support her?

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: It's a long story. Maybe I can in France --

VANIER: Can you give us one main reason why you support her?

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: One?

VANIER: One main reason you support Marine Le Pen?

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: Sovereignty. The main reason, the question about sovereignty of France, our liberty.

VANIER: Let me turn to you now.

At what point did you think Emmanuel Macron is my guy. UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: Actually, few years ago, he was a speaker

at my graduation ceremony. At the time, he was still a minister of the economy and I was very inspired by his speech because he was already talking about refusing status quo, about going beyond ideological ideas that are now obsolete. I thought at that time, if he goes for bigger ambitions, I will follow him.

VANIER: At that time, he was just an economy minister.

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: He had no known ambitions to run for president?

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: Exactly.

VANIER: He just thought, if one day perhaps he will run for president, I'll support him?

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: Yes.

VANIER: And now that he has -- is running for president, what do you think? Has anything disappointed you?

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: No, absolutely not. I think he's stayed true to the speech he gave back at my graduation ceremony. He really embodies the change I want to see in my country.

VANIER: You talk about change. Every politician that wants to be president in this country and probably most countries around the world promise change.

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: Yeah.

VANIER: Do you ever feel you're being had by a new marketing gimmick, the new, young, English-speaking bipartisan accountant.

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: Well I'm young, English-speaking, and I don't think my convictions are marketing. He's accused of marketing because he's able to affect a lot of people in various ways. His party started a year ago and he's able to gather millions around him.

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: Not true.

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: Why is it not true?

VANIER: He didn't have a political party a year ago.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: His party was that of Francois Hollande, and it's not a new party. Emmanuel Macron seems young but he's not. He is very old people inside.

VANIER: This is sounding a lot like one of the Lines of Marine Le Pen in the presidential debate, she said your ideas are twice as old as you, meaning you're very establishment. UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: No, because it's the truth. We don't say,

we just say the truth. Because French people have to know the reality before they vote Sunday morning.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: You know that's true. When talking, we are the one having the truth.

(CROSSTALK)

[02:35:14] UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: No, it's not true. I'm sorry. Macron was in the government, he took his risk, and he quit because he was not OK with what happened in the government. We can talk about his legacy and Marine Le Pen if you want to.

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: It's not new people. He is very integrated.

VANIER: But he is not running with the backing of the Socialist Party. He quite brutally distanced himself from Francois Hollande.

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: He writes economy program for Francois Hollande in 2012 so he is really involved in the Socialist Party.

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: It reminds me of the debates two days ago where Marine Le Pen spends more time talking about Emmanuel Macron's past then talking about France and her project for France.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: So it it's not an argument we can accept today. Why is it her project she never detailed.

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: It is our project. We don't admit to submit to European Union.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH VOTER: -- on people --

VANIER: We're running out of time, but I am so thankful to both of you to coming on the show, expressing your views in favor of Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. We'll see what happens on Sunday night.

Thank you very much.

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: Isha Sesay, in Los Angeles, back to you.

SESAY: Thank you, Cyril, and thank you for that fascinating insight into the minds of voters for these two candidates. Thanks so much.

Quick break here. Coming up, Syria's opposition speaks out against a new agreement to end the violence inside the country. We'll find out what has them so angry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: U.S. defense officials are releasing new information about a controversial air strike in northern Syria. They now say the March 16th strike did hit a building that was part of a mosque complex. Dozens were killed.

Russia, Turkey and Iran have signed up for plan to create de- escalation zones in Syria. The blue prints for security zones were initiated by Russia. According to state-run media, Syria supports the proposal. Opposition representatives left the signing ceremony saying the country should not be petitioned.

Joining me now from Istanbul with more details on the latest effort to bring peace to Syria's six-year civil war is CNN's Arwa Damon.

Arwa, good to see you.

There is a lot that is unclear about these de-escalation zones. Do we know where they will be set up and how this will actually work?

[02:40:01] ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, based on what we've been able to determine they're going to be set up most likely in all of the providence and parts outside of the capitol, Damascus, and in the southern part of the country. The problem is who will enforce this and what nation or nations are going to end up patrolling these de facto borders. The issue the opposition has, they are adamant that Iran shouldn't be involved in any way shape or form, since they blame Iranian militias for a lot of deaths happening in Syria. Iran, very closely aligned to the Assad regime. And they don't trust the Russians either, nor do they have a lot of faith in Russia's capacity or desire to implement these de-escalation zones that are meant to bring a respite from the bombings. In fact, while the meetings were taking place, some of these areas that are meant to be part of the de-escalation zones, according to opposition activists, were the scenes of some fairly significant bombardment.

You have a lot of hypotheticals at this stage. Although, we are hearing the U.N. envoy to Syria that, at this stage, they welcome any effort to bring about an end to the violence in Syria. But, Isha, as we know too well, none of the efforts, up until today, have worked.

SESAY: Yeah. What are the chances they will get the opposition at the table to sign on to this? As it stands now, is it worth anything?

DAMON: Well, at this stage, for the opposition, if they are able to -- again, this is all hypothetical conversation -- create these de- escalation zones that are pretty much in areas, more or less, opposition strongholds, at least they will be able to for the time being hold the territory. We've been seeing significant gains being made by the outside Assad regime. The Assad remine for its part has perhaps has less motivation to want to sign on to this, given it currently has the upper hand in the battlefield to a certain degree. But the bottom line is a significant lack of trust that exists at this stage. And then you have whether or not this will lead to the partitioning of Syria, the issue of the Kurdish zones. Turkey wants to see the predominantly Syria-Kurdish fighting forces pulling back from what they say are historically Arab territory. So now there's a lot more unknown than known. And, of course, again, a lot of opposition nationalists and other observers of the Syrian conflict say this may, at the end of the day, be another effort in vain, a piece of paper that doesn't change anything when it comes to the rising death toll within that war-torn country.

SESAY: Probably so.

CNN's international correspondent, Arwa Damon, joining us there from Istanbul. Thank you, Arwa.

Finally this hour, China joins an exclusive club in aviation. I's first homegrown jetliner is taking its maiden flight. A state-run company made the aircraft in hopes of competing with Boeing and Airbus. And it would have a leg up in a growing market. Some estimates say Chinese airlines will need 6,000 new planes in the next two decades.

Well, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

"World Sport" is up next. Then Natalie Allen and George Howell will join you from Atlanta for another hour of NEWSROOM right around the world.

You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WORLD SPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:00:09] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: It is the final day of the French presidential campaign. We're live in Paris with a special preview of the --