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CONNECT THE WORLD

Massive Suicide Bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan; Trump Expected to Withdraw From Paris Agreement; White House Dogged by Russia Controversy; U.S. Policy on Cuba to be Reversed Again. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 31, 2017 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to "Connect the World." I'm Robyn Curnow at CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta where we're

following two major breaking stories for you this hour, including that one that Donald Trump may do something virtually no other country in the world

is doing on climate change.

But first, our top story this hour -- a massive suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan -- time to explode during rush hour in a secure area near

several foreign embassies.

Well, at least 80 people were killed and hundreds, hundreds more were wounded. And it happened just a few days into the holy month of Ramadan.

The Taliban are denying responsibility for that blast.

Now, Reuters correspondent, Josh Smith, was out on assignment during the attack and was so close that he could feel the impact of the bomb. Later,

he was at a hospital as a stream of the ambulances brought in the dead and wounded.

He joins me now via Skype from Kabul.

First of all, I mean, how did you feel this bomb? What kind of impact did you feel? What did you hear and see?

JOSH SMITH, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT: I was -- I was some distance away, as you mentioned, out on the street in Kabul when it went off early this

morning. Even being some distance away, we could feel everything around us shake.

And there was -- we could feel the air pressure even change around us as the blast wave came through. We immediately turned around and saw a

massive cloud of dust and smoke rising above the city.

And it was clear that this was definitely an above-average-sized bomb for Kabul, which is no stranger to suicide attacks.

CURNOW: Now, and tell us, above average, this was more than that. It was massive. The sheer scale of this attack of the explosion, as you describe,

absolutely devastating.

What do we know about this truck bomb?

SMITH: So officials are saying that they believe that the attacker used a sewage tanker truck, which often have access to some of these -- to the

main facilities on some of these secure compounds. In this truck, they hid, obviously, a massive amount of explosives.

It left a crater in the ground several yards deep. Several soldiers who hopped down into it nearly disappeared.

This, again, is not an unprecedented-sized bomb but very usual and very unusual for this kind of sized bomb to make it into downtown Kabul, where

it had a truly devastating impact, mostly on the Afghan civilians who were either in traffic or already at work at nearby buildings.

CURNOW: I want to talk about the location, the timing in just a moment. But as we were saying when we introduced you, you -- you saw the injured.

You were at the hospitals. Give us some sense of the trauma and the devastation on people who (ph) were not even close to the bomb but even a

little bit far away. That's how massive it was.

SMITH: That's right. There was a steady stream of ambulances bringing wounded people to the hospital where I was at just a few blocks away from

the blast scene. Many of those people ranged from very serious injuries and life-threatening injuries to minor injuries from flying glass and other

debris.

As time went on, that stream of ambulances that had been carrying the injured gradually began to carry in the dead bodies. And many of those

exhibited incredible trauma.

They'll be testifying to the true violence of this blast.

CURNOW: And again, the location, tell us about that. What do we know?

SMITH: So the location is right in downtown Kabul. It's an area that is within just a few blocks of many foreign embassies.

The German embassy was heavily damaged there. And they sustained some casualties. Just down the street is the presidential palace for the Afghan

presidency.

And just down a few more blocks are several international media organizations, including our own. And so there were many kind of high-

profile institutions within this area.

Most of the people, however, who sustained the casualties in this were every day Afghans who were caught out on the street where the blast went

off.

CURNOW: OK. Josh in Kabul, thank you so very much. Appreciate it.

OK, we're going to hear now from an Afghan official. I'm joined on the line by Sediq Seddiqi, head of the Afghan Government Media and Information

Center.

Our condolences to you and your people. So what are we hearing about the death toll?

[11:05:01]

SEDIQ SEDDIQI, HEAD, AFGHAN GOVERNMENT MEDIA AND INFORMATION CENTER: Thank you very much. Yes, this was another unfortunate incident in which many

innocent people lost their lives in Ramadan, with a massive suicide bomb today in Kabul.

According to the reports from different government organizations, that they were responsible to respond to the -- to the incident today. So far, we

have lost 80 people and nearly 400 others wounded in the hospitals. And they are being treated.

CURNOW: Eighty people killed, nearly 400 people being treated. This is a devastating bomb, a massive bomb.

We were just hearing from a correspondent on the ground. Did you hear it? Did you feel it?

SEDDIQI: Absolutely. It was heard in many areas of Kabul. The Afghan security forces were on the scene to respond to the crisis.

You know, the ultimate job was to take the wounded and those victims to the hospital -- nearby hospitals. So there has -- this massive damage to the

buildings and -- and to the people living in those areas.

And it was unfortunate, there was (ph) I think an incident (ph) attack -- terrorist attack. And the Afghan forces are now investigating to find out

what kind of explosives were used and how they track (ph) relief (ph) to this (ph) area.

CURNOW: And do you know who might be responsible?

SEDDIQI: At this stage, we do not know exactly. But you know, we are facing terrorist groups in Afghanistan, many of them such as the Haqqani

(ph) terrorist network, the ISIL, Taliban, all of them.

They are actually behind these terrorist attacks. They have been behind these kind of attacks in the past.

And the Afghan people are sure that this time, these are the same enemies. So we are facing a -- a terrorist era (ph).

And this incident, this attack also shows the scale of -- the magnitude of this kind of threat that we the Afghan people are facing. But the Afghan

president chaired the security meeting today, emergency security meeting in which he instructed everyone to investigate fully so that we understand how

this attack happened.

CURNOW: Sediq Seddiqi, thank you very much for joining us here on CNN. And of course, we will bring you an update on the situation in Afghanistan.

A little bit later on in the show, we speak to an expert on the Taliban and Afghan politics about this deadly blast. Michael Semple is my guest in

about 25 minutes' time. You'll want (ph) to stay on (ph) for that.

And now, this breaking news on an expected U.S. policy break with nearly every other nation on the planet. We're now learning that Donald Trump

plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

He says he'll formally announce his decision in the next few days. But world leaders, as we know, have urged Mr. Trump to stick with the landmark

pact, intended to reduce global warming.

But he appears determined to honor a campaign pledge to cancel the U.S. commitment. Isa Soares looks at the future of the accord with or without

Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hailed as historic, the Paris Climate Change Accord united a hundred and 95 countries in a single agreement to

tackle climate change, all pledging to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. Crucially and for the first time, it included

the two biggest greenhouse emitters, China and the United States.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Today, the world meets the moment. And if we follow through on the commitments that this Paris Agreement

embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet.

SOARES: Almost two years on, there are fears the U.S.' new commander-in- chief could undermine the ambitious deal. After all, it was one of his campaign pledges.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop...

(APPLAUSE)

...unbelievable -- and stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.

SOARES: Now, in office, Mr. Trump continues to be a critic of climate change. He has moved to dismantle the Clean Power Plan and has restarted a

coal leasing program on federal land, raising concerns that this may be one of the most anti-scientific administrations in a while.

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the president was fairly

straightforward, is that we're not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.

SOARES: These statements have Europe nervous. In a statement to CNN, Arias Canete, Europe's energy and climate commissioner says, "It's clear

that we cannot expect the same kind of leadership from the U.S. following the change in administration.

What is clear is that while some look back, the E.U., China and many other major economies look ahead.

[11:10:00]

We continue to hope the U.S. will find a way to remain within the Paris Agreement and to remain committed to the Paris goals."

It's not just politicians sounding alarm bells. Climate change advocates and scientists are worried, too.

JOANNA HAIGH, CO-DIRECTOR OF GRANTHAM INSTITUTE, IMPERIAL COLLEGE: For the U.S. and President Trump suggesting that they will withdraw from -- from

the Paris Agreement, this is a big threat. They are producing something like a fifth of the world's carbon emissions at the moment.

And if they were to rescind on their commitment, which was to reduce the CO2 from the U.S. by 26 percent by 2025, this would have a large impact on

the whole global picture.

SOARES: If President Trump wants out in the terms of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, it could take as many as four years by which point, his

term would have ended, or he can stay in in name only, simply ignoring all the commitments. Either way, the fear is that a withdrawal will weaken the

credibility of the pact, potentially inspiring other countries to pull out, too.

But climate advocates believe the deal can survive with the support of the remaining countries, in particular, China, a belief that says this deal is

bigger than any one man.

(APPLAUSE)

SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN, London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Thanks, Isa for laying all of that out. Now, we're across all of these latest developments. John Sutter covers climate change for us.

He's here in Atlanta. Fred Pleitgen is monitoring international reaction in London.

John, to you first, what is the impact of a possible American withdrawal on this agreement? What does this mean?

JOHN SUTTER, CNN COLUMNIST: I mean, I think it could be catastrophic if the U.S. does withdraw from the Paris Agreement. And I think we should

look at this in very real terms.

There's a certain like terrifying math to climate change. There is only so much pollution that we can put into the atmosphere before we start seeing

really disastrous consequences, things like, you know, rising sea levels, searing (ph) droughts, mass migrations.

You know, I've met people in Alaska, in the Marshall Islands, in Madagascar all around the world, who are living these effects now. And they're likely

only to get worse and worse the more we keep polluting.

So the Paris Agreement was the promise to the world into future generations that we're going to fix this. We're working together to do this.

And so I think the world's second biggest climate polluter pulling out of that agreement could be truly catastrophic. I would hope that it would

survive without the United States.

But -- but I think it's very risky territory.

CURNOW: I just want to follow-up on that question, John. I mean, is it laid (ph) out? I mean, will this weaken the climate change agreement,

perhaps not in the short term but in the long term, the consequences of -- could this collapse?

SUTTER: Yes, I think there is -- the math of it, the U.S. emissions matter in that global equation. And there is also like this symbolic punch that a

withdrawal would deliver.

I was in Bonn, Germany a couple of weeks ago for an update of, you know, the negotiations around the Paris Agreement. And the negotiators I talked

to there were very optimistic that the rest of the world can and will continue without, you know, without the United States if -- if the

administration is to withdraw.

And they see hope in the fact that China and India are actually doing much better than expected, you know, trying to curb their pollution. So it's --

it's not enough.

But there are some people saying, you know, the world could meet these commitments in the short term without the U.S. involvement. But -- but I

think you can't understate how big of a deal it is that the United States, the second biggest polluter in the world, which negotiated this treaty

essentially with China, U.S. and China working together was hugely important for the success of this agreement.

I think it's a big, big deal if the U.S. pulls out.

CURNOW: Huge deal in terms of climate, in terms of science but also diplomatically.

I mean, Fred, as we know, and as John was just saying, this is essentially also a landmark deal between China and the U.S. Huge diplomatic

concessions were made by many countries around the world.

What will be their reaction? Do you think the international community will coalesce behind this pact no matter what the U.S. does?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, I -- I think it will. I think especially the European nations certainly are going to stick to this

pact because one of the things that I think maybe the White House underestimates a little bit is how important climate policy is, especially

to European nations but then also to a lot of nations, of course, in Asia as well.

So I think that they are going to keep seeing this pact through. And it's interesting, you know, some of the diplomatic tensions that we've seen

between the White House and, for instance, Germany and also Italy as well, other European nations also, was because of the climate change policies.

You know, Angela Merkel came back from that week that President Trump was in Europe and said essentially right now, there's a six to one situation

within the G7 countries. Of course, the biggest economies in the world where all of them say, we need to continue to stick by the Paris Accord.

We need to keep them alive and also tailor our economies to meet the needs of -- of climate policies. It's only the United States that's falling out

of line.

And then you have the Italians who came out yesterday and said, look, we need to take our destiny into our own hands, mirroring some of the things

that the Germans said, because we simply don't see eye-to-eye with the United States on climate policy. So this is something that could certainly

cause broader diplomatic rifts between the U.S. and other nations more generally.

[11:15:00]

But I do think that the European countries, especially led by nations like Germany, like France, are going to work with countries in the biggest...

(AUDIO GAP)

SUTTER: ...you know, if we don't shape up. And climate change is a major driver of this. So I think it's almost impossible again to -- to overstate

the magnitude of what we're talking about here and how big of a deal it is that we start cutting emissions now and globally including the U.S.

CURNOW: The consequences far reaching. John and Fred, thanks for joining us here.

OK, it's not only Europe that's in for a Trump shake-up. So is Cuba, as the American president gets ready to go back to the past on Washington's

approach to the island.

We're live in Washington for more on that. And then we'll get you on the ground to Havana.

You're watching CNN. All that's ahead. And we also know, even as Mr. Trump tries to push ahead with the new policies, he keeps getting pulled

back into the storm of controversy over Russia.

Up next, we'll have the latest on the Trump investigation as the list of Trump aides under scrutiny continues to expand. Plus, a new survey sends

shockwaves through the U.K. election race.

We'll be live at an English seaside tower (ph). Stay with us.

[11:17:36]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:19:48]

CURNOW: So Donald Trump is considering a move today that could affect all of us around the world and even the planet itself. He's expected to

withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Accord, a step that's sure to rally his base at home while angering U.S. allies.

[11:20:01]

But even as he works to fulfill his campaign promises, President Trump can't escape a growing cloud over the White House that's overshadowing

almost everything else. There are more questions now than ever about his campaign's contacts with Russia and who knew what and when.

So congressional investigators now want to hear from one of Mr. Trump's personal attorneys. But Michael Cohen says they'll have to force him to

testify as Joe -- Joe Johns reports.

The Senate panel is having more luck trying to get some information from Michael Flynn.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's fired National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, now says he is willing to

cooperate with Senate investigators to provide them with documents sought by two subpoenas, Flynn expected to hand over the first batch to the Senate

Intelligence Committee by June 6.

[08:15:03]

Congressional investigators are expanding their sights to other Trump aides. Michael Cohen, a personal attorney to the president, flatly

refusing a request from the House and Senate intelligence committees to offer up information and testify.

Cohen lashing out, claiming a lack of evidence to corroborate the Russia narrative, labeling the investigation a total fishing expedition and

accusing lawmakers of a rush to judgment but later admitting he would comply if subpoenaed. White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, facing

tough questions about all the Russia revelations when he held his first briefing in more than two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So does the White House dispute that that happened?

SEAN SPICER, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: I'm not going to get into -- but -- but your question presupposes facts that have not been confirmed.

JOHNS: The White House refusing to deny whether President Trump's adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, sought a secret back channel to Russia

President, Vladimir Putin.

SPICER: Secretary Kelly and General McMaster have both discussed that in general terms, back channels are an (ph) appropriate part of diplomacy.

JOHNS: As the investigation is now looking into the intent of Kushner's contacts with Russia during the transition, including why he met with

Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, a man with deep ties to the Kremlin. Back in March, the White House claimed Kushner was talking to the Russians in

his role as an official primary point of contact with foreign government.

But the Russian bank offered a different account, calling it a business meeting.

SPICER: Mr. Kushner's attorney has said that Mr. Kushner has volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. And he will do

the same if he's contacted and connected with any other inquiry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the president discuss it, though?

SPICER: I'm not going to get into what the president did or did not discuss.

JOHNS: The White House in spin mode trying to downplay reports about turmoil in the West Wing.

SPICER: I think he's very pleased with the work of his staff. I think that he is frustrated like I am and like so many others to see stories come

out that are patently false, to see narratives that are wrong, to see, quote/unquote, "fake news."

When you see stories get perpetrated that are absolutely false, that are not based in fact, that is troubling.

JOHNS: Clashing with the media over the president's favorite subject.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give an example of fake news, Sean, give us an example?

SPICER: Yes, absolutely. I'll give you an example.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please.

SPICER: Sure. Friday, the president was having a great discussion at the G7. And someone from the BBC and ultimately, an incoming reporter from

"The New York Times" retweeted that the president was being rude by disrespecting the Italian prime minister.

And when -- when, in fact, you all in every one of the meetings that we sit in watched the president with that one earpiece that's been used by other

presidents. And yet, the president did a great job at NATO.

JOHNS: And then abruptly storming out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Joe Johns reporting there. Well, perhaps trying to turn the spotlight away from all that controversy, President Trump tweeted he will

make a major decision in the next few days on the Paris Climate Accord.

Now, as we've been reporting, two senior U.S. officials tell CNN Mr. Trump is expected to withdraw from the global pact. If he goes ahead with that,

then America will join Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries -- the only countries around the world not in the deal -- a small trio of unlikely

countries opposed to this landmark agreement.

So what would it mean if America, the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases pulls out? And what does this potential decision mean for the

growing chasm between historic allies, the U.S. and Europe?

To discuss all of these implications, I'm joined now by CNN's Political Director, David Chalian.

So this would be a small group of countries not part of this major agreement. Is this a sign of something bigger of America withdrawing from

the international stage, creating a vacuum?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Of course, having the United States in that group makes that group a lot larger than it might otherwise be.

But you are right, it is an odd trio of countries defying this agreement.

What I think we have going on here is President Trump really committing to a promise he made on the campaign trail and following through with a

philosophy that won him the White House, won him the Republican Party nomination here, and then eventually won him the White House, this -- this

populist America first nationalistic kind of approach.

[11:25:06]

And what's interesting is that we've seen at times over the last five months of this administration where he actually went with more of the

establishment thinking wing or what the globalist or corporatist thinking wing on certain things. This case, he's not.

He is going with his base of support here and pursuing this agenda even if it means sort of stiff-arming some of the United States' closest allies in

Europe and around the world.

CURNOW: What does that mean? I know there's an op-ed today in one of the key newspapers in "The Wall Street Journal" by the national security

adviser, the national economic council director.

And it's interesting because it talks about America first as a foreign policy. It does not mean America alone.

It's a very transactionalist (ph) being described layout of a foreign policy. There are some of the details.

There are a lot of threats as we've been saying towards traditional allies. What does all of this mean then?

Domestic politics aside, the implications are global.

CHALIAN: Oh, my god, the implications in sort of the geopolitical sphere are huge obviously. Never mind the actual sort of scientific implications

of not being part of this agreement and what -- and what that means -- but -- but clearly, what it means for our relationships, not just in Europe but

around the world.

And remember, looking at Europe specifically, this comes on the heels of, you know, not defending Article V when he was with NATO. This comes on the

heels of these European allies at the G7 and at NATO, really lobbying President Trump to come down on the other side of this.

And again, we're waiting to see what he actually pronounces and announces when he gets there. But yes, he is leaning into this notion that he is

expected to withdraw.

It's going to have reverberations around the world, there is no doubt. And another thing in that op-ed by McMaster and Gary Cohen (ph) that I think is

really interesting, Trump's world view seems to be one of sort of an arena of competition, not a global village where we need to necessarily work

together on everything, but an arena of competition where non-government actors, businesses and government actors are all sort of competing for

competitive advantage.

I -- I think that is an explanation of vocalization of his world view in a way we haven't fully seen yet.

CURNOW: They -- they kind of dispute the concept of an international community and make it sort of gladiatorial in many ways. It'll be

interesting how this plays out, what the implications are.

The climate change agreement is just one aspect. As you say, NATO is something else, also, Cuba, perhaps, rolling back all of that -- another

aspect we'll about a bit later in the show.

But really great to have your analysis here, David. Thanks so much.

CHALIAN: Thank you so much.

CURNOW: And also, a reminder to our viewers, do check out David's new podcast. It's called "The Daily D.C." And it's really great.

And it's also, well (ph), totally free. And it's available on cnn.com and on pretty much any service anyone could want to listen to a podcast on.

And the American State Department doesn't speak out that much anymore. It's done away with its daily briefings.

Perhaps, that's because American foreign policy can be pretty hard to explain even for them. The people meant to be running it, watching -- take

a look at watching the acting assistant secretary of state struggle to answer a reporter's question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know (ph), the secretary criticized the conduct of the Iranian elections, the Iran's record (ph) in democracy. He

did so standing next to Saudi officials.

How do you characterize Saudi Arabia's commitment to democracy? And does the administration believe that democracy is a buffer or barrier against

extremism?

STUART JONES, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF STATE: I think what I would say is that at this meeting, we were able to make significant

progress with Saudi and GCC partners in -- both make a strong statement against extremism and also -- and also putting -- putting in place certain

measures through this GCC mechanism where we can combat extremism. Clearly, one source of extremism, one -- one terrorism threat is coming

from Iran.

And that's coming from a part of the Iranian apparatus that is not at all responsive to its electorate. OK (ph)...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Speaking of pauses, we are going to be taking a little break for ourselves now. But -- but coming up very soon, more on our top story, the

Taliban are denying responsibility for a deadly suicide blast in Kabul.

[11:29:56]

We'll look at the pattern of violence in Afghanistan this year and speak to an expert on the country.

[11:30:01]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:32:41]

CURNOW: You're watching "Connect the World." Our top stories this hour -- a Pentagon spokesperson confirms the U.S. has begun arming Syrian Kurdish

fighters in the battle against ISIS. The plan moves sparked anger from U.S. ally Turkey when it was announced earlier this week and views (ph) the

Syrian Kurdish group known as the YPG as a terrorist organization.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin denies Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons. In an interview, Mr. Putin says accusations were

never proven and were just used to give the international community a reason for .

And a huge explosion has killed at least 80 people, wounded hundreds more in the Afghan capital. A suicide bomb blew up in a secure area near

several foreign embassies including the German embassy.

We have sound (ph) now from the country's foreign minister. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIGMAR GABRIEL, FEDERAL MINISTER, AFGHAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Among the fatalities are most likely Afghan security

personnel who were employed at the German embassy but also many people who were not involved. It is a terrible attack.

And we will try to help the families.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Well, today's suicide bombing is one of the deadliest to strike Afghanistan in recent years. And now, we're learning that seven American

citizens were also wounded in that attack.

And it certainly follows a pattern of escalating violence. In February, a suicide blast outside the Supreme Court in Kabul killed 20 people.

ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack. The terror group was behind another attack in Kabul in March when gunmen disguised as medical personnel

stormed a military hospital near the U.S. embassy, killing 30 people.

And in April, the Taliban launched a deadly raid on a northern army base. Well, I want to bring in my guest in London now to talk more about the

eroding security situation in Afghanistan.

Michael Semple wrote the book "Reconciliation in Afghanistan." He's an expert on the region. He's lived and worked there for many years.

Michael, what do you make of this blast, this attack? It was so big. What does it tell you?

MICHAEL SEMPLE, AFGHANISTAN EXPERT: This was a dreadful attack, of course. And the -- the people who have been killed are basically a cross section

of, you know, urban Kabul, people who were out on the street at that time.

However, this is a reminder that there is a -- a deadly campaign underway from those who seek to destabilize and to topple the Afghan government.

[11:35:01]

We've seen attacks like this previously and unfortunately, even as we speak. I'm sure that there are teams of terrorists planning follow-up

attacks.

CURNOW: And who are these people? There are a number of groups with competing interests. There have been (ph) allegations that some of them

are -- are cooperating with each other.

What -- what is the militant situation there? And -- and how do you see that playing into the security situation going forward?

SEMPLE: The main organization fighting against the Afghan government is still the -- the Taliban movement. And for attacks in Kabul from the --

the Taliban, it is principally the Haqqani network who'd like a subdivision inside the Taliban.

They are the ones who have the capacity to carry out this kind of attack. They have a -- a track record.

They have a network of people operating underground in Kabul who can help identify targets, assemble bombs, get suicide bombers to their targets. I

wanted to come back on something which you mentioned earlier, on this issue of claims of responsibility.

Claims of responsibility for this kind of attack cannot be taken at face value. They hear (ph) -- the -- the Taliban movement have a track record

of denying responsibility for attacks in which there are heavy civilian casualties because they think that can tarnish their image, while they are

actually quite happy with the destabilizing effect of, you know, big bombs going off in Kabul.

So just because the Taliban movement have not claimed responsibility doesn't actually mean that they didn't do it. And it is even possible that

previous attacks like the attack on the Kabul hospital which were claimed by the Islamic State may indeed have been carried out by the Taliban

movement.

CURNOW: Yes, and you make a very important point there. Also, let's not forget that this is America's longest war.

America has been in Afghanistan for all these years. Troops have been there I think for 16 years. And more than 3,500 coalition troops have been

killed in the fighting.

Thousands of others have been wounded. And then, of course, there's the impact on Afghans by one estimates, some 30,000 civilians have been killed

with thousands more wounded or displaced.

I mean, the -- the question here, is there an end in sight?

SEMPLE: I do not think that war is an inevitable state in Afghanistan. It is possible to bring back security and peace.

But clearly, the efforts of the -- the -- the past 15 and 16 years have not delivered the result that you'd -- that we'd want. Of course, it's

important to pay attention to security.

It is vital that there are people out there tasked to try and intercept bombers who are trying to get to their targets. But everybody also knows

that some kind of political solution is, you know -- is, you know, is vital to this.

They -- there are many Afghans who are estranged from their -- from their government. There are Afghan supporters for these movements who are

fighting against the government.

Until you can take away that support by some political progress, then unfortunately, people will provide, you know, recruits or housing or

facilitation to the terrorists who carried out this attack.

CURNOW: Michael Semple, always great to get you on the show. Thanks for joining us.

SEMPLE: Thank you.

CURNOW: Now, Great Britain is one nation that still has personnel in Afghanistan. And that will certainly be on the agenda for the winner of

next week's election.

And with eight days to go, one report has certainly sent a jolt through that race. A pollster, YouGov (ph), suggests that Prime Minister Theresa

May could -- could lose the majority she currently holds.

It did come with caveats, though. But it's heaped more pressure on the prime minister who was predicted to win the vote easily. The markets

noticed.

Oh, yes, take a look at that. You can see the pound dipped overnight on the news. Well, CNN's Richard Quest is traveling around the U.K. gauging

the public mood in the week before the vote.

He joins us from Weston-super-Mare on the English coast.

This is certainly going to send a jolt through 10 Downing Street. Mrs. May called this election, thinking it was a bit of a no-brainer.

It doesn't look like that now, does it?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello from Weston-super-Mare. Yes, it is the English seaside, people -- and a delightful day, I might add,

absolutely picture perfect.

The sun has come out. And the sand castles are being built. You're right, Theresa May called the election expecting that she was going to, some say,

get a landslide over a hundred votes.

But that was before she made several mistakes in terms of the manifesto. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition has performed, if not exactly

much better that expected, at least he has given a reason, he's solidified this (ph).

And now, we see the gap between the two getting ever closer. Now, the important thing, Robyn, about this YouGov (ph) survey overnight is that it

confirms a trend of the polls narrowing.

[11:4:08]

Whether or not she would lose seats and indeed lose her overall majority, I think is debatable. But it does confirm that all the polls that we're

currently seeing suggest that what should have been and was planned to be an outright win for the prime minister is going to become much more

difficult next Thursday.

CURNOW: And Richard, give me some sense of what voter turnout might be. I mean, people, as you've said before, when you're in these areas, would much

rather be digging sand castles than going and voting in another election.

How exhausted is the electorate? And what will that mean to either one of those folks standing in front of you?

QUEST: Well, let's -- let's leave the party leaders and come back if we're going to talk about that and enjoy some of the -- the beauty of the

seaside. It doesn't get much more picture-perfect than the pier, the sand castles.

And (ph) on that question, look, the U.K. went to the polls in 2015 and elected the conservatives. It should have been a much greater victory but

it wasn't and that (ph) indeed, in itself.

Then there was the referendum last June. That was narrowed to the point of being -- of splitting the country. And the prime minister said she wasn't

going to have another vote.

And now, the country's back at the polls. So whether or -- I mean, if you ask people, they sort of roll their eyes. They give a sigh.

And they say, oh, yes, we're going to have another vote. But what I find really fascinating is people will tell me it won't make any difference.

The politicians don't listen. We don't trust them. Whatever they say about Brexit, they'll do what they want anyway.

And Robyn, I think it is that feeling of being disengaged. We'll vote because we have to rather than we want to.

CURNOW: Yes, that's a very important point. And it is, of course, England, and that, I don't know, is a very picture-perfect day.

For most of the world, that looks pretty miserable, no blue sky. But you do look lovely in your blue shirt.

QUEST: Oh, nonsense, nonsense. How -- how could you? How -- look, they're building sand castles.

Let me give you one fact about this sand -- one little simple fact. This is some of the best sand in the world for building sand castles.

I bet you didn't know that. Now, these (ph) sand castles will last weeks, if not months.

CURNOW: Right. We're going to leave it at that. And I do want to see a picture on Twitter of the sand castle you built.

Richard Quest on assignment in the front line, thank you.

Well, coming up on "Connect the World," U.S. policy on Cuba should be reversed and it could happen soon. We're live in Havana with what may

change and when.

Manchester stands up to the worst terror attack its ever seen with the very, very best of its spirit. Details up next (ph).

[11:43:04]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:46:10]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Why now? Why now? There is one simple answer. What the United States was doing was not working.

We have to have the courage to acknowledge that truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: U.S. President Barack Obama revamped decades of American foreign policy when he opened the borders with Cuba. You heard him there.

But now, with President Trump, everything old may be new again. After months of rumors, CNN has learned some of the policies put in place by the

Obama administration are to be reversed.

Mr. Trump is also expected to man the return of U.S. fugitives, could be given asylum in Cuba. The policy changes could come as early as June.

Well, CNN's Patrick Oppman is in Havana with more on what all of this could mean for Cuba.

Hi, Patrick. Great to see you there at CNN's Havana bureau. We were both standing there watching Obama land, making that historic trip.

He then had the -- he had Cubans really excited about the future. What are they saying now about these possible changes?

PATRICK OPPMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Robyn. We saw history made. And we may now see history unmade.

Cubans have been watching this very nervously ever since the campaign where President Trump, then candidate Trump said that he will undo everything

that President Obama had done, even remove the U.S. embassy. It does not appear from what U.S. officials are telling us that the cuts to the Obama

policy will be that deep.

But we have been told to expect very soon that significant portions of this policy that, as you remember from your trips reporting here, led, made way

for the U.S. embassy reopening here, allowed flight service to be reestablished, even the cruise ships behind me that have -- have just shown

up in the last few days from Florida, that's all thanks to this Obama policy of greater openness, less of a -- an antagonistic relationship with

the Cuban government. Well, President Trump wants to go back to the past, which very clearly, the Obama administration did not feel was working and

re-center (ph) of the Cuba policy have more of a focus on human rights, which is not a topic you hear the Trump administration talking about a lot.

But they will focus on human rights here, punish the Cuban government, end what President Trump calls the policy of unilateral concessions that in the

future of the Cuban government wants something from the U.S., they have to give up something like turning over fugitives. And, you know, that has a

lot of Cubans and Americans worried, certainly for the companies that run the direct flight services, American Airlines, JetBlue and others and the

cruise ships like the ones behind me.

They're concerned this is now going to hurt the market that they worked so hard over the last few years to create. But once again, Robyn, we are

being told it's a question of when, not if, President Trump will begin to roll back some of these policies.

CURNOW: But -- but quickly, Patrick, I mean, is the genie out of the bottle essentially? As you say, the cruise ship is behind you.

The hotels are being built. The flight schedules are being paid for. I mean, really, can it be reversed in the way that -- that we saw just two

years ago?

OPPMAN: It's hard to up imagine that because old Havana -- there are just Americans everywhere. And they tell people that once again, the only

country in the world that Americans are not free to visit is now completely off limits, I think is really a bit of a reversal and will hurt U.S.

industries.

But there is a lot of pressure on President Trump to complete his campaign promises. So we are told that he will do something.

Much of it may be largely symbolic. But the relationship now between the U.S. and Cuba will revert to that antagonistic, very contentious

relationship that we saw throughout much of the Cold War, Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, in Havana, Patrick Oppman, thanks so much. Well, you're watching the "Connect the World." Up next, after a grueling journey from

east to west, we meet Afghan refugees stuck in Serbia displaced by terror.

[11:49:57]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:51:41]

CURNOW: How powerful is that -- one of Manchester's countless (ph) music legends, Liam Gallagher back in his hometown. The former Oasis front man

performing a benefit concert on Tuesday night for victims of last Monday's terror attack and their families, the crowd, belting out the hit, "Don't

Look Back in Anger," and on the stage, 22 candles, one for each of those killed.

Define (ph) some of the tragedy there. And the artist whose concert was attacked, Ariana Grande is standing back up herself in her own way,

throwing a benefit concert in Manchester this coming Sunday. She'll be there and so will some other huge names.

Look at this list -- Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, Usher, Take That and others. And our top story this

hour is the massive suicide attack in Afghanistan since the start of the war there some 16 years ago.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled violence like that and like that, even in Manchester, as carnage tore the country down around them.

Some have run away as far as Europe.

For your parting shots, we spoke to one photographer who met refugees from Afghanistan and elsewhere in Serbia. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

Staying in the camp with the refugees had a really strong impact on my photography. I've seen what these people live through.

I breathe the same air polluted by the smoke of the burning scrap material. I've built empathy over the days, understanding the pain of other, perhaps

(ph) not just to capture better images, but it really helped be a better human being.

I set up a makeshift studio in the barracks. I wanted to put a human face to a bigger international story.

And the way was through stage portraits. They live in abandoned warehouses. Refugees who live there face the harshness of the Serbian

winter.

Time is infinite when you've got nothing to do. You can see the refugees sleeping for hours.

When outside, it's warmer and there is no snow on the ground, people can play football or cricket, a rare break. My favorite picture is probably

the one I took the last night of my stay in Belgrade.

One of them was playing a drum, another man was dancing. The atmosphere was helping people to forget.

My name is Matteo Congregali (ph) and these are my parting shots.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Extremely powerful.

[11:55:01]

And there are many more moving stories from around the globe up on our Facebook page, facebook.com/cnnconnect. You'll find the very best from

today's show and every other one right there.

You can also find me on Twitter @robyncurnowcnn. Well, that was "Connect the World." Thank you so much for joining me and the team across the

world.

You've been watching CNN. Thank you for joining us.

[11:55:26]

END