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CONNECT THE WORLD

Special Edition: Iran Votes; Sweden Drops Rape Investigation Against Julian Assange. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 19, 2017 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:26] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hello and welcome to what is this very special edition of Connect the World live from Iran's buzzing capital.

Turn up your volume everybody, because boy oh boy are we about to connect the world. There' is no show on earth doing what we're doing in the next

hour. So let's get going.

Well, Iran is deciding. The polls are still open, extended so that everyone can have their say in today's destiny defining elections here in

these exquisite surroundings.

And all over the country the atmosphere has been absolutely electric. People lining up for hours in the roasting heat to have their say largely

between these two men.

All this here.

And then we'll connect you to Iran's arch-nemesis, Saudi Arabia, where they are rubbing their hands with delight as the world's most powerful man, the

American president, heads there in just a few hours from now.

And I won't be far behind him on his five stop, eight day international extravaganza.

Back to right now, though, and CNN's Fred Pleitgen is out and about elsewhesre in this city.

Fred, we are in North Tehran, you are up the road. Tell me what's the atmosphere like there?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Becky, the interesting thing is that as the voting has been extended here in

Tehran, of course other places as well, the lines are actually getting longer. I want to show you around a little bit, because we're in the

courtyard of the polling station. That whole building you saw behind me is full. That over there is the women's line that's going all around the

building. And then here is the men's line. Of course the genders separated here.

However, but both genders waiting equally long. And it's that same situation that you described, literally people waiting for hours to get

into the polling station. That whole polling station is still full.

Those folks that you are standing there right now, they're going to have to wait for at least another one-and-a-half, maybe two hours. And the voting

is actually set to stop in about half an hour. So we do expect that it is going to get extended once again.

So, it's a very, very large turnout that we've been seeing. And certainly people I've been speaking to, Becky, are saying that they believe that this

is one of the most important elections that they've witnessed in this country in a very long time because they believe that the two men who are

running against each other, especially their economic platforms are so divergent, so different from one another, that it's very, very important

for them to come out to cast their ballot to help determine the course that this country is going to take domestically, economically, and

internationally for the next couple of years, Becky.

ANDERSON: That's absolutely right.

Fred, the domes above me in this iconic religious foundation, a symbols of Iran old, of Iran new are as intricate as the politics here. Help us

unpick that intricacy. What have people been telling you specifically?

PLEITGEN: Well, you're absolutely right. I mean, the political scene here is one that is very, very intricate, very, very complicated. Because you

do have a political dialogue here in this country that is quite controlled, but at the same time also one that is fairly robust. And you've seen that

in the runup to the election with a lot of the debates that have been going on, where the candidates have attacked each other quite viciously, and the

positions have differed a lot.

That's also one of the reasons why we've seen such high voter turnout today as you said before in that scorching heat. Here's what we witnessed

throughout the day here at this polling station.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: Massive lines at the polling station, men and women separated, but all waiting equally long in the heat and most with the same sense of

urgency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for the first time. And I think that if they see me, they see my vote and, you know, if they count our vote, of course,

some changes will happen, that it will be good for all of the people here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Previously, we have proven that if we just ignore, it's going to be someone else's right, and it's going to be someone else's

choices. So we cannot complain if someone else is chosen. We have to prove that we are here, we support what we want.

PLEITGEN: The top candidates have highly opposing positions. The moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani wants to continue economic and political

engagement with the west, while his conservative opponent Ebrahim Raisi wants a tougher stance against the U.S. and economic self-sufficiency.

Both sides fought a tough and often divisive campaign. But for voters, jumpstarting Iran's stuttering economy is by far the most important issue.

[11:05:26] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the growth in this country is dependent on relation with the other countries, European countries, United States,

other countries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we fight with other countries, when we show an angry face to other countries, our economy will decrease little by little.

PLEITGEN: Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the candidates for the verbal battles during the campaign and said the election

must not destabilize Iran

This is a very important election for Iran. And the supreme leader has called on all Iranians to come out and vote. And like in every Iranian

election, he is the one to cast the first ballot.

And many, many Iranians are following his call, judging by the lines at the polls, grasping

their opportunity to influence their country's future polities at home and in the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: As you can see, Becky, certainly a remarkable day that we've witnessed here and you of course have witnessed as well here in Tehran, in

Iran. As you said, a very intricate, a very complicated political landscape that of course is very much defined by economic issues, but then

also by religion to a great deal as well, Becky.

ANDERSON: Sure. Fred, thank you for that.

Well, we are viewers, in the more open-minded north of Tehran, if you like here. But in other parts of this city, there are certainly, shall we say,

feeling against America. My next guest, Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor at Tehran University, thinks stuff like that is old news, famously hoping

that, for example, the nuclear deal, which, quote, caused the flag of anti- Americanism to fall down.

So, Sadegh, do you think that U.S. western relations are more at stake than ever in this election?

SADEGH ZIBAKALAM, TEHRAN UNIVERSITY: Yes, I think one of the crucial points to consider is the future of Iran and the U.S., which has started a

new deal. Obviously, if President Rouhani is re-elected, which chances are it's huge judging the crowd, it means we can expect some more detante and

less of animosity between Tehran and Washington.

ANDERSON: That is interesting, because the timing of President Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia, who treat this as the arch-nemesis, as it were, this

being Iran, hasn't been lost on people that I've been speaking to here.

So should Iran be concerned, whoever gets elected here after this election, that things seem

to be ratcheting up as it were so far as the U.S. is concerned with foes of Iran, not friends?

ZIBAKALAM: Well, obviously, the younger generation, the post-Islamic Revolution generation, it seems no longer to be interested and buying anti-

Americanism the way it was three decades ago, and even two decades ago.

More and more people are questioning the wisdom of anti-Americanism.

ANDERSON: You make a very good point. And that's exactly what I've been told here as I've spoken to 18, 19, 20-year-olds.

Hassan Rouhani, a well-known moderate, of course, with pretty liberal ideas on social and economic issues here in Iran, has been put into play as

president for four years now. Outside of the country, viewers you will of course know him best for the Iran nuclear deal.

Now, conservatives criticize the president not for signing that deal, but for the fact that the

economic opportunities that he promised haven't been forthcoming. And quite frankly, there's some

truth in that, isn't there?

ZIBAKALAM: Yes. But the point is that should we blame the nuclear deal or should we blame other factors? For example, the fact that many western

companies are not eager to come and work in Iran, to come and invest in Iran, the reason for that doesn't lie with actually the nuclear deal.

ANDERSON: Who does it lie with?

ZIBAKALAM: Well, the corruption, stupid rules and regulations that we have, the fact that the judicial system...

ANDERSON: Nothing to do with the fact that sanctions really haven't been lifted against Iran, right?

ZIBAKALAM; Well, as far as we can say, most of the sanctions that are related to the nuclear

sanctions, they have been lifted, or they are about to be lifted.

Remember, the sanctions, the nuclear sanctions, were not even from the beginning, were not supposed to be lifted overnight. There have to be some

ratification that Iranians...

ANDERSON: You make a very good point. The man who wants to succeed President Rouhani, take his job, as it were, is Ebrahim Raisi, viewers.

He's a populist conservative who wants to see his country stand up to America. And he has ton of populist ideas, as well, like giving out much

bigger cash hand outs, for example, to every Iranian every month. He has blasted the lambasteddeal, but it hasn't gone so far as to say let's trash

it out of hand.

So should he win, how will Iran's policies and position on the international stage change, if at all?

ZIBAKALAM: Well, let me first of all respond to your question with regard to if Raisi wins, if the conservative or hardliner, which is very unlikely,

of course. But if he wins, the hardliners have become on a very difficult position vis-a-vis the nuclear deal, because...

ANDERSON: They don't want to trash it, right?

ZIBAKALAM: No, no, they don't. They even have stopped criticizing it openly they way they used to do since Trump has come to power, because the

hardliner in Iran have been bombarding the people that this deal has been against Iran's interest.

ANDERSON: Let me ask you this. It is quite convenient for the more conservative hardline

candidates and voters here that as President Obama, the former U.S. president has changed his international strategy for the States from

onboarding, i.e. being in country and fighting efforts for an behalf of the allies, to offshoring, as it were, keeping America out of these. That has,

to many people, allowed Iran to get involved in Syria, in Yemen, in Iraq. So the situation as things stand today actually

suits the conservatives, doesn't it?

ZIBAKALAM: Yes and no. It suits hardliners, or the conservative, the way Trump is behaving. They're saying, look, we told you that American are

attacking American (inaudible) et cetera, et cetera.

But between you and me, they are also a bit cautious not to challenge Trump. They were very brave as far as Obama was concerned. They didn't

fear Obama, but I think they do fear Trump.

ANDERSON: You are a pleasure and a delight, sir. Your analysis is excellent. I've been looking forward to speaking to you.

When our guest arrived in the building here today, it was literally as if one of the biggest stars in Iran had arrived.

And that is how much people care about politics here. You know, our friend, a real rock star to the people here in this incredible environment.

Before we push ahead -- thank you, sir. Before we push ahead, consider this: pictures of leaders voting are nearly - okay always, pretty boring.

But not so much here in Iran. Just hours ago Iran's supreme leader made his choice for president. Same old, same old, right? Well, take a closer

look. Check out his left hand. See that, he is clearly wearing a purple ring. That is causing some people to

go nuts on Twitter. Why? Because purple is Hassan Rouhani's campaign color.

I'm live in Tehren for you tonight. Still to come, Donald Trump about to take his first trip abroad as U.S. president. We've talked about this.

His first stop, of course, is Saudi Arabia. His plan to promote peace and unity in the Middle East starts there. We've got a live report for you

from Riyadh up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is a special edition of Connect the World live from

Tehran for you this evening. I'm Becky Anderson. If you're just joining us, you are more than welcome.

Well, Donald Trump takes often a few hours for his first overseas trip as U.S. president. And given all the turmoil he'll leave behind in

Washington, it is an ambitious itinerary, to say the least: five destinations in eight days beginning in Saudi Arabia with a meeting of

Muslim and Arab leaders.

Well, Mr. Trump then goes to Jerusalem for meetings with Israelis and then on to meetings with the Palestinians.

He'll then see the pope at The Vatican, go to the NATO summit in Brussels and finish up with G7 in Sicily.

Well, the White House says President Trump wants to promote a vision of peace and prosperity: a tall order you might think, given some of the

things he has said and done. But in Saudi Arabia, it seems all is forgiven. Nic Robertson is in Riyadh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Becky, from the get- go, when President Trump gets here is going to get a very warm welcome. Whatever he's said before on the campaign trail about Muslims. Whatever

the chaos in Washington, Saudi Arabia is rolling out the carpet big-time.

This is one of the popular from all the streetlights in the road here. You've got American and Saudi flags flying. There were pictures of

President Trump next to the king on huge billboards next to the highway.

So, he's moving around here, President Trump is going to get that message, though this is there are pictures of the president next to king on bill

boards. What is moving around here, President Trump is going to get that message that this is a very warm welcome, whatever he said before on the

campaign trail about Muslims, whatever the course in Washington, Saudi Arabia is rolling out the carpet big time. This is one of the popular

newspapers. This is King Salman, the country's king here. And headline is: this is where history begins.

The message is that they think that this is a historic reset between the west and the Muslim Arab nations. They see President Trump as different to

President Obama, somebody who, they say, can be courageous and deliver, or at least help deliver a Palestinian-Israeli peace.

But where expectations are really high, Becky, is on Iran. The foreign minister here yesterday said that Iran must be made to behave like a normal

country and follow international law, that's what they're expecting from President Trump to back that up.

And U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis was here just a month ago. He had a very similar message. So you can see the two sides are on message here.

Mattis said that the United States must support and help Saudi Arabia in its resistance against Iran's regional mischief.

So there's an alignment there. And it appears that Saudi Arabia really wants that message to

come out loud and clear. There will be more than 35 different Arab, Muslim and regional leaders here. President Trump is expected to deliver an

important message from him. And that message is going to be, look, you need to promote a more peaceful,more tolerant view of Islam. However,

that's going to be very nuanced as you can imagine because these leaders already believe that's what they're doing.

So, expectations on President Trump are high on what he can deliver. The nuances of the messages he wants to bring are going to be tough. But it

does seem at the moment the mood is very, very forgiving over what President Trump has said and done before.

The region, the Saudis, their allies here want something from President Trump: be tough on Iran and help deliver that elusive Palestinian-Israeli

peace - Becky.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[11:20:17] ANDERSON: Fascinating.

All right, what we've heard at least, President Trump is a man who likes to be liked. So his trip to Saudi Arabia should be just the thing for him.

Nic's got an op-ed, a great op-ed piece in which he explains that. He previews Mr. Trump's first trip abroad as president. You can find that at

CNN.com.

Well, not surprisingly Iran and Syria won't be attending that summit in Saudi Arabia. Iran backs the regime of President Bashar al-Assad on the

battlefield and this week the U.S. sent Iran a strong message to back off. A U.S. defense official says a convoy of pro-

regime vehicles breached a zone around a base of the Syrian/Jordanian border on Wednesday. And the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS retaliated

with a series of air strikes. Now, the base is occupied by U.S. and British special forces who are advising a Syrian rebel group fighting ISIS.

Well, this is only the second time American war planes have targeted Iranian proxies in Syria on purpose. My colleague Muhammad Lila joins us

now from Istanbul. What more do we know about this?

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, it's the way that these air strikes took place that is really quite remarkable. A lot

of analysts are calling this a possible game changer.

But take a look at the big picture. What a pivotal weekend here in the Middle East. You've got Donald Trump visiting in Saudi Arabia. You've got

Iranian elections that you're out there covering and anchoring from. And then you've got the air strikes. When you look at all

three, you'd think the air strikes are not consequential, but actually they could be very consequential as far as a major escalation goes in the Syrian

war.

There was a convoy of Shiite militias that were traveling towards - they were traveling on the road towards this air base that's being used by U.S.

special forces. They were about 29 kilometers away when the United States sent in fighter jets to do what they call as a show of force. Effectively

what that means is they fly very low and very close to the convoy, letting them know very clearly that they should not proceed further.

According to the United States, the convoy did proceed further and that's when the air strikes took place. Of course, Russia and Syria are lashing

out at the air strikes, calling them unacceptable.

This actually shows two very important things in the Syrian conflict, Becky. The first is how important these lines are. Because just across

the border in Iraq, Shiite militias and the United States are fighting the same army in ISIS, but once you cross the border into Syria things become

much more fluid.

It's also another aspect of why it could be a gamechanger because up until this point the United States has more or less refrained from targeting

these Shiite militias directly in Syria.

Now, if this is a strategic change under the new Trupm administration and Donald Trump and the U.S. army decided they will now start targeting it

could drastically the situation on the ground and draw the United States into a more direct conflict, one that could be prolonged, and one that

could lead to more loss of life on both sides - Becky.

ANDERSON: Muhammad, this region could not be busier at present. Thank you for that important story there.

Both the story out of Saudi and the story that is in Syria both very different, but with one thing in common right here Iran, what the people

all around me decide here in this room and at the 63,000 polling stations around the country will be felt in Washington. Saudi Arabia, Syria, and

many other places.

Now, we often hear from politicians and pundits, don't we. But first of all, let's hear from ordinary people. It's so much more important, isn't

it?

Leila joining me now. Leila, I know that it has been a hot day. I know that you have patiently waited outside. Tell me for how long.

LEILA, IRANIAN VOTER: About eight hours.

ANDERSON: About eight hours to cast your vote in what is one of the main polling stations here in North Tehran.

Is this worth it? Why is this vote so important to you?

LEILA: Because I think it is the future of my country, the future of my kids, my children. And I think it is very important for me that my future

president will be a president that I, myself, vote for him. And because he has the good policy with the world, international policy. It will be OK

for me and all of the people who live in my country.

ANDERSON: And that's important because I know that the conservative candidate here has been criticizing the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani

for not coming good on the economic opportunities. The nuclear deal signed in 2015 was supposed to really open things up. And quite frankly

the economy is pretty shaken at the moment. And people tell me they're quite hard up.

But you say this isn't a vote for today, it's the future, correct?

LEILA: Yes, the future is very important for me, because it's very important for me, because I'm a teacher and my children is very important

for me, my children is very important, the future. And I think Mr. Rouhani, that is my elected president it can make a good nation for all of

the people who live here and he can control all of the prices, he can control everything. And I think that economically

they will be - everything will be OK after this.

ANDERSON: Ihe wins, of course. And that is still undecided. Let me tell you, viewers, that it is now some hours after the end of the official

polling. They've extended the hours here, and this is the picture inside. There are still thousands of people queuing outside.

Leila, lastly, if there was one thing, one message to the viewers who are watching all over the world from you about Iran, what would it be?

LEILA: All of my country, I love all of the people who live here, and I hope the future will be the best for all of us with this new president,

this new plan that our elected president will done in our country.

ANDERSON: And you would like people to come visit Tehran and Iran, right?

LEILA: Yes. Because I am an English teacher, I hope that the tourists will come here

more than before.

ANDERSON: Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

You waited very patiently for us, you waited very patiently to vote earlier on today. Leila, thank you.

Interesting stuff.

But for all the good stuff down here, and there's lots of it, we can barely keep our eyes from

shooting upwards, looking at these glorious domes you see here in this amazing religious foundation. My producer telling me we've got to move on,

but we've got to stay with these images for just a few minutes. I normally take instruction, but not tonight.

Look at these. Wow.

Up next. much more analysis from Iran at a crossroads. What it means to you wherever you are (inaudible) is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:31:37] ANDERSON: Well, let's return to our top story this hour, Iran's presidential election, the importance of this vote cannot be overstated,

that hasn't been lost on most people here.

There have been long lines at the polling stations, not just here. An enormous turnout, especially in northern Tehran where we are.

The race coming down largely to two men - Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent and the moderate candidate versus his closest opponent the populist

conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi.

Well, let's get you back to our Fred Pleitgen. He is elsewhere in the city.

And, Fred, political, economic and social liberalization, that has been Rouhani's platform in 2013 and this year. And he sees the nuclear deal

with the west as crucial in making that happen. But as we've been reporting tonight, the economic spoils have been a lot slower in coming to

most Iranians than he would have hoped. And that is an issue, isn't it, in this election. Just how bad things are here?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely. It's been a very big issue.

I want to show you real quick, Becky, before we get to that just how remarkable the scene is here, because now the lines here actually extending

all the way down to the street. We're not only not inside the polling station yet, we're not even inside the compound yet. And then if I walk in

here, you'll see that this entire courtyard is still full of people.

So, you were saying there are still long lines. We feel that the lines here are actually getting longer as it gets later. And we're of course now

past the time that the polls were supposed to close. Again, that's not happening.

But to get back to the economic policies, you're absolutely right. You know, I was in Iran after the nuclear agreement was signed, was put into

place. And there was a lot of hope that the sanctions relief that came with the nuclear agreement would bring an economic upswing very, very

quickly.

Now, that's happened to an extent in some sectors. The oil and gas sectors is doing extremely well. There's a lot of oil facilities, gas facilities

in the south of this country in the Persian Gulf that are expanding massively. And of course Iran's able to export oil on the scale that it

hasn't been able to over the past couple since its - over the past couple of years since it's had those massive sanctions, of course, that were put

in place under the Ahmadinejad government internationally against Iran.

But many people had hoped that other sectors would benefit as well - the manufacturing sector, for instance the tech sector as well.

One of the things that you notice when you come here frequently, is that it is pretty remarkable that this country has been able to maintain an

automobile sector, that it has a tech start-up sector, because it has a very well educated population under the sanctions that Iran's been under.

They do need a lot of investment to get those sectors rolling again. And that investment hasn't come in the way people thought.

And so now with the Trump administration in place, taking on a harder line against Iran, the hardliners that are running against Hassan Rouhani, have

been very, very critical of this rapprochement. They said, look, we negotiated so much with these countries, with the west, with the United

States. We gave up large parts of our nuclear program, especially on the part of centrifuges, of development of the nuclear program as well, the

economic benefits simply aren't there yet. And that's something that really makes this election very tough for Hassan Rouhani.

So in the end what it comes down to is Hassan Rouhani saying, look, I need a little more time to

fulfill the economic promises that I have. This roadmap that I have, whereas the conservatives are saying it simply isn't happening, especially

now that you obviously have a very negative president towards Iran in the United States, and presumably a lot of Iranians believe that they're going

to see more of that as the president towards Iran in the United States and

presumably a lot of Iranians believe they're going to see more of that as the president, of course, goes to Saudi Arabia and then in Israel as well,

Becky.

[11:35:25] ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen, (inaudible) polling station in (inaudible) here for you if I can just to give you a sense of what we've

got here before I bring in my next guest.

I was told, or I was told a moment ago that three quarters of (inaudible) now have been through this polling station alone. And that's just before

it was scheduled to close. There's not a chance that this place is going to close anytime soon. It's still extremely busy. It's been really hot

(inaudible) as you've heard on this show. And people have been queuing for six, seven, eight hours in that heat to get in, to make their choice to

have their voice heard.

Well, let's dig a little deeper now. I want to bring in Foad Izadi. He's an assistant professor at the Department of American Studies at the

University of Tehran. He joins me now live. Thank you, sir.

We spoke before. How do you describe, as it were, where you think Iran goes next under a Rouhani presidency and under a new president?

I'm talking really about U.S.-Iran relations at this point.

FOAD IZADI, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN: I think we're going to see some similarities between the two in terms of economic relations.

Both candidates have promised millions of new jobs. And they realize that without foreign investment, without links with international companies, we

are not going to be able to create that many jobs.

So, in the debates, they both basically competed against each other in terms of proving to the people who is going to be better in that area.

ANDERSON: You wouldn't describe Rouhani as a conservative. You certainly would describe

Raisi as such. But to suggest that Mr. Rouhani, or President Rouhani is not a nationalist, would be rather naive, wouldn't it? I mean, this Is a

man who is very proud of his country and will not take huge criticism from the likes of a Donald Trump administration, correct?

IZADI: He is actually embarrassed, because he put a lot of his personal prestige in line with the nuclear agreement and, you know, in the Senate we

are going to have a new sanctions bill after the elections. This is what Bob Corker, the head of - the chairman of the Senate foreign relations

committee has promised. And this is going to very embarrassing for him.

If he gets elected, he's going to face a tough Senate and he's going to face Trump.

ANDERSON: So, so if you were his adviser, how would you suggest he deals with this new American administration?

IZADI: The problem we have is that a lot of people in Washington think the way to get concessions from Iran is through sanctions. And as long as we

have that mentality of putting more sanctions on Iran, then you are not going to be able to deal with the United States in a proper manner.

So the solution, basically, is to tell the other side that if you put more sanctions on Iran, there are going to be consequences.

ANDERSON: I'm going to stop you there. There's been a breaking news story. Mr. Assange has been - had the rape allegations dropped against him

by Sweden today. So, we're just going to break into that. And I think he's talking now.

Let's listen in to the WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange appearing at the Ecuadorian embassy in

London to comment on this decision to drop the rape investigation against him.. That is Sweden's decision. Let's listen in.

(JULIAN ASSANGE PRESS CONFERENCE)

ANDERSON: All right, that was Julian Assange at the embassy in Ecuador where he has been holed up for years now. The Ecuadorian embassy in

London.

Taking a very short break. We're in Tehran back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:51:07] ANDERSON: Well, there have been more than three quarters of a million people through the building that I am in today. And a lot of faces

there. Imagine my surprise when who else but footballing legend Ronaldo stopped by to cast a vote here. Well, not really. It was just a very keen and very Persian look alike.

But we have seen hundreds of thousands of people coming through here today. And I have to tell you as they have just announced voting will be extended

for a second two-hour period. There are still queues snaking around this, one the main polling stations in Tehran as people wait to get their chance

to vote in what is this, the presidential election.

You're watching CNN viewers. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

Well, we are in Tehran tonight, a city of some 14 million people. And they are brilliant people - smart, young, and brimming with ideas for our world.

We took to the rooftops for yesterday's show if you were with us. You'll remember it when you could see the iconic Milant (ph) Tower behind me, just

one small part of Iran's incredible architecture. And there's so much of it. Mesmerizing, countless people passing through the region for thousands

of years.

Recently, one such stranger in these lands came by, a Greek photographer capturing from her

iPhone.

So do enjoy these Parting Shots this evening.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Morning Shadow (ph) is a body of (inaudible) created (inaudible) one month residency at Kush (ph) residency in Tehran in the

spring 2016.

What interested me in this project was to challenge the way we approach the other and new

cultures in the past internet age.

In the Persian letters, known as (inaudible) to criticize the (inaudible). Well, I wanted to do the opposite. I took the Iranian society and my

personal experience living there as a case in point for this project. I defined a list of historical, cultural and economical times of how Iranian

culture (inaudible).

I wanted to collect 150 images, so I was constantly having the phone in front of me. And as soon as I was seeing a mosaic or beautiful display of

fruits or pistachios, I was right away triggering my phone and starting a photograph of it.

This experience in Tehran was really my first time living for a certain amoung of time in the

Middle East.

My name is Esmerelda Cosmotopoulos (ph), and these are my Parting Shots.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, you would think, wouldn't you, after standing in the roasting heat for some seven or eight hours, the people here in North

Tehran would be getting a little impatient. Swing around, Clayton (ph), he's my photojournalist here, and let's just have a look. Look at the

patience of these people. 63,000 polling stations around Iran - salaam, salaam - 63,000 polling stations around Iran, and this is one of the

biggest, I'm pretty sure one of the most beautiful.

But these guys getting an opportunity to vote in what is such a critical, critical election for them.

What you've seen during this hour, this is a beautiful, though, often misunderstood part of

the world. For more from here in Tehran, do be sure to check out Facebook.com/CNNconnect. We always show you where we are this time it's

this country, this region, and of course the whole world in the way only this show, I hope at least, really can.

But we can't go non-stop. No, all good things must come to an end, including, sadly, this very special edition of Connect the world. Voting

has, again, been extended as tens of millions of people leave their homes and come and decide the fate of this nation. And in doing so, viewers, the

fate of our world. Iran is so important.

As the vote goes on we can hardly wait for the results and there's nowhere better to get that then right here. As soon as they start flooding, you

will be the first to get them.

I'm Becky Anderson. From the team working with me here those in Abu Dhabi, our home base in Atlanta headquarters and in London, it is a very good

evening. Thank you so much for joining us. CNN, of course, continues after this.

END