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Trump, Putin Meet Face-To-Face For First Time; U.S., Russia, Jordan Reach Ceasefire Deal For Syria; Merkel: Agenda Includes Trade, Climate, Energy; E.U., U.K. Are In Separation Negotiations; CNN: Russia Steps Up Spying Efforts After U.S. Election; Hamburg Police Confront Protesters; Differing Accounts of Election-Meddling Discussions; First-Hand Look At Battle For Raqqa. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 7, 2017 - 15:00:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: It is a meeting the world has been waiting for. The American president, Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir

Putin finally talking face-to-face. They had a lot to talk about and boy, did they talk.

It's supposed to last for about 30 minutes. It went on for more than two hours. Two hours and 16 minutes to be precise. Ahead of it, the feeling

and the body language in some cases appeared positive. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United

States, and for everybody concerned. It's an honor to be with you.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I am delighted to be able to meet you personally, Mr. President, and I hope, as you have

said, our meeting will yield positive results.


GORANI: One issue that wasn't necessarily expected to come up was the thorny topic of Russia's meddling in the U.S. election, but according to

the American secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who briefed reporters in an audio-only update that subject came up straight away.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president opened the meeting with President Putin by raising the concerns of the American people regarding

Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Now they had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject. The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding

Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.

The two leaders agreed though that this is a substantial hindrance in the ability of us to move the Russian-U.S. relationship forward and agreed to

exchange further work regarding commitments of non-interference in the affairs of the United States in our democratic process as well as those of

other countries.


GORANI: That was Rex Tillerson, the American secretary of state, briefing reporters. We are also hearing of developments in relation to Syria. A

partial ceasefire has been agreed between the U.S., Russia, and Jordan in Southwest Syria.

Tillerson also said that Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, though, not right away, would eventually leave power, no timeframe provided, no details on

that. And obviously this is something that is going to have to be a wait- and-see situation because the ceasefire itself is going to have to be tested long before any transition of power is considered.

CNN is covering this from across Europe. Matthew Chance is in Moscow. We'll go to him in a minute. First though, Dan Merica is there live in

Hamburg. Dan, this meeting came -- lasted much longer than anticipated, two hours, 16 minutes.

One of the things Rex Tillerson said was the two leaders connected very quickly that in fact they tried to break up the meeting earlier. They even

sent in Melania Trump, but even she failed to get the meeting to come to a swift end.

Then they went on for an extra hour after that. It appears as though the two men got along very well, Dan.

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER (via telephone): Hey, Hala. Yes, that's right. I think the White House would like that certainly to be

(inaudible) that these two men met for the first time, got together and actually enjoyed each other's company and certainly the time length of the

meeting speaks to that.

But I think it's worth noting that, you know, if Donald Trump led off this meeting (inaudible) with the topic of 2016 election meddling. Quite

curious that, you know, Vladimir Putin would have taken to that kindly and enjoyed the rest of the meeting.

But what Rex Tillerson said really struck me is that President Trump approached this issue opened up the conversation with it, but once he got

push back from the Russian president.

And the Russian president according to Rex Tillerson asked for proof -- the Russian side asked for proof that the United States on whether Russia was

behind this 2016 election meddling.

President Trump then just moved on to the topic quite afterwards and focused on things where they thought they could something done like as you

mentioned a ceasefire in Syria.

And what Secretary Tillerson said today was that something like that, a ceasefire (inaudible) Syria crude in their minds that Russia can be a

partner in this difficult country.

And that really breaks from what the past administration had thought about Syria and Russia's involvement. As you mentioned, this is a critically

important meeting for the president.

And really his entire weekend here in Hamburg, he still have a number of meetings will be on camera a number of times, really was going to be

defined by how this meeting plays out.

And whether it is viewed as a success by President Trump and the White House, as we go on, there certainly more will come out at how election

meddling was broached, what President Trump has said in, and we learned already that the Russian side is actually casting this as a win for them.

[15:05:02]Saying that the president accepted their claims that they were not involved in the 2016 election meddling. Obviously that goes against

everything that our intelligence agencies have said so far in the United States. So I think --

It remains to be seen how this would be, you know, consumed by an American audience, but I think the White House is fairly happy with the length of

the meeting. In fact, it seems like President Trump got along well with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

GORANI: All right, Dan Merica in Hamburg, thanks very much. Dan there talked about how this is being portrayed by the Russian side as a win for

them. Matthew Chance is in Moscow. How is it being covered in Russia, this meeting, this first face-to-face, Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think this -- I mean, the expectations I think is first of all (inaudible) to say were

very low on the Russian side when it came to this meeting.

The state media was saying, look, you know, if they just agreed to meet again that will be something and it's sucked the poisonous, toxic

atmosphere in the United States politically when it comes to the Russian issue.

The Russians only half believed that anything substantial could be achieved. I mean, the fact that it went on for maybe two hours, 20

minutes, or was it two hours, 16 minutes.

It's a testament to the fact that this was more than just the sort of formal exchange of pleasantries. They talked about real issues at the

heart of the U.S.-Russian relationship.

Let me go back to that issue of cyber security and the robust exchange according to Rex Tillerson, between Trump and Putin about that. Russian-

state media is carrying a very interesting line.

It's quoting Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister saying that Trump accept the Putin statements that Russia has nothing to do with this. But

Trump himself said that cyber interference by Russia has been exaggerated in some circles.

And I think, you know, we already knew this about Trump. He is not entirely convinced himself that this was a Russian orchestrated campaign to

disrupt the democratic process in the United States.

And it seems going to Russian-state media quoting Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister that he kind of hinted at that in this face-to-

face meeting.

GORANI: Thank you, Matthew Chance, live in Moscow, and thanks to our Dan Merica as well. We'll catch up with you later for more coverage of this

important face-to-face and the G20 Summit as well because there's one more day left for the leaders to talk about important issues.

We have heard trade deals announced and other sort of transactional conversations happening on the sidelines. That's what these summits are

for. But this bilateral as it's called, the optics of it will be poured over for any clues into the relationship between Vladimir Putin and Donald


Let's get more on that. Stephen Collinson, who is normally in Washington, joins us now in the studio in London. Is it very unusual to have only four

people with their translators when you have two leaders meeting like that?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, it's very unusual. I've covered so many of these Russia-U.S. bilateral at various summits around

the world. Normally, you walk into the meeting, there are six or seven or eight officials on either side of the meeting.

Normally, the national security adviser would be in this, sometimes the secretary of defense. It's certainly a note taker from each side who will

write down exactly what happens in that meeting and disseminate it through the various governments in the U.S., the State Department, the Pentagon,

and everywhere else.

So it's very, very unusual to have this two-on-two. There was Tillerson, Lavrov, and the two presidents and two translators, and that's it. So

that's one of the reasons why it's really difficult to work out what exactly went on in there.

You know, we are relying on basically the word of two world leaders and two foreign ministers who have a record actually of not being very forthcoming

with the press. So I think it's going to take a little while to sort of work out what exactly went on there.

GORANI: And we saw it on full display with Rex Tillerson, who held an audio-only briefing when interestingly his Russian counterpart, Sergey

Lavrov, had an on-cam briefing.

COLLINSON: And this is one of the first sort of lessons of global diplomacy is get your message out first. The Russians are expert at this.

Lavrov often goes directly from a meeting in front of the cameras to try and push the Russian narrative about exactly what happened.

Now the reason the White House does these briefings, I mean, it's very odd. Recently, what they've doing is almost trolling the press almost over the

last few months playing with the White House press, trying to make it more difficult.

So we've had so many of these briefings, which would normally be on camera in the White House or when --

GORANI: Just to make it difficult for reporters to cover them, what's the point of that? I mean, we know we hear from the president the accusation

that mainstream media is fake news and they are out to get them. Is it just a --

COLLINSON: They have explanation as the reporters get on camera and they grandstand and they take away from the message of the day at the White

House. This occasion I think it really backfired for them because the Russians are on camera disputing the U.S. version of events in this meeting

about whether the president accepted the fact, you know, that Russia interfered in the U.S election.

[15:10:05]It doesn't really help their case to have a disembodied voice of an official that no one really knows and you got (inaudible) out there on

camera so that's what makes it rather puzzling.

Perhaps that's a sign, you know, that this administration is very inexperienced in dealing with these kind of sort of big issues, but it's a

sign that as much as they might like to say this relationship is on a good track.

They come out of a two and a half hour meeting or two hours and a quarter, 10 minutes later, they're already arguing about what went on inside.

GORANI: Although that's not unusual, you have spin on both sides, but I do wonder this whole talk about Donald Trump going into this without an agenda

as though somehow he hadn't even really prepared for it. Clearly his team had prepared for this.

I mean, there were very substantive issues brought up, the announcement of that ceasefire, for instance, in Southwest Syria, and other very weighty


COLLINSON: Right. And I think a lot of us thought that the fact that it was Trump and Tillerson on their own then perhaps the president could get

rolled, but I think we also have to realize, you know, this is a guy that is very competitive.

Both Putin and Trump used to being the most powerful person in any room they are in. They both have a very sort of macho political style at least

for the cameras.

So I don't think that President Trump went into that meeting wanting to come out of there and being perceived as being sort of roiled by Putin.

The question is at the end of this, and in the coming weeks, which version, you know, really plays out.

Is the U.S.-Russia relationship being conducted on America's terms or is it being conducted on the terms of Vladimir Putin? That's what is being

really to watch over the next few weeks.

And of course, the last two administrations have come into power trying to improve relations with Russia. At the start, it looked right and everyone

was praising the White House, and they were saying, we can work together.

But both countries' interests tend to clash in Europe, the Middle East, and --

GORANI: Although on Syria, it appears as though it's indeed this ceasefire materializes and hold. This is really Russia's scenario emerging.

COLLINSON: Right, exactly. And that will be a change from the past administration, which is where you are dealing with the Russians. Because

that would cement Russia's role in this key, you know, corner of Middle East, which they didn't want to make a permanent role.

If this is the case, it appears that the United States may have accepted that Russia has a permanent place in Syria, which would be a change of U.S.


GORANI: Thank you so much, Stephen Collinson, as always. A pleasure having you here with us in the studio.

The security situation now, yesterday, you saw it got bit tensed, some cars were burned. Hamburg police are trying to keeping mass protests

(inaudible) evening.

Reinforcements are also coming in to deal with some of the violence. Take a look at the video.


GORANI: We can see riot police facing-off with protesters. Police have arrested 70 people since the violence first erupted on Thursday. Fred

Pleitgen joins me now live from Hamburg with more. What's the situation now, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty calm at the moment, although, we are actually hearing that, I should say,

about two and a half miles away from here, from one of the sort of flash points, Hala, that we've had over the past couple of days placed on water


Apparently, there are actually clashes taking place right now as we speak, sort of isolated skirmishes and that's really been something we've been

throughout the entire day.

That there have been skirmishes breaking out in various parts of the city sort of around parameter of where the G20 Summit is taking place that's

highly different than what we saw yesterday.

Where there was one big protest and again had to stop various locations because the police was confronting the protesters there because violence

are breaking out.

We did have a few situations today that we were a part of where violence did breakout and we did see the police take some serious act in there, the

use of water cannons like the ones you actually see over there.

That the police really have on hand all the time. We since found out that the police actually has 46 of these that they've deployed and they do use

them very extensively.

Right now, Hala, at this point, where we are, this is sort of one of the main areas around the summit -- where the summit is taking place, as you

can see, it's fairly peaceful right here. There is a demo that was supposed to start about a half an hour to an hour ago.

That really hasn't kicked off very much yet, but the folks here -- right now it's more festive I would say than it is confrontational for most of

the folks that were out here -- Hala.

GORANI: But this weekend, there have been calls for bigger demonstrations, right?

PLEITGEN: Yes, you're absolutely right. But one of the things that the organizers themselves said it and that the authorities here said they

thought that there would be around a hundred thousand protesters coming here throughout this weekend, throughout the time that the G20 Summit was

taking place.

And that certainly does seem to be the case. If you look at the folks who are coming in here, they are coming from various different countries around

Europe, but also beyond Europe as well. We've seen a lot of folks from Latin America. We've seen folks from the United States even.

[15:15:05]But all of them, of course, very much a political agenda. You know, a lot of them believed in (inaudible) like capitalism. They believed

that the current system as they see it is not fair for too many people and that's something that they want to get across to the leaders that are in

there inside the G20 Summit.

Now, of course, their main and ultimate goal to try and get into that area, the G20 Summit. That's something that the police said absolutely going to

happen. It really is a very, very big (inaudible) and there is a lot of presence of the authorities to prevent anything like that from happening.

But certainly the folks here believe and they are probably right that we've been seeing what they planned so far that they certainly are being heard by

the people, leaders who inside that G20 Summit over the next few days discussing some of the very problems that these people here say have not

been addressed adequately as they see it over the past years.

GORANI: All right, thanks, Fred Pleitgen, in Hamburg. We'll catch up with you later.

A lot more to come this evening, it's an undertaking like no other. The G20 is where such different leaders meet to tackle the world's problem.

We'll discuss what they are trying to achieve with the chief E.U. spokesperson.

And Vladimir Putin denies meddling in the 2016 election in America to President Trump's faith, but U.S. intelligence officials say Russia has

only escalated its spying activities since the election. We'll cover that story as well.


GORANI: If you've ever thrown a party, you know, it can be great fun, but it's a whole lot of work. Now imagine being Angela Merkel and having to

play host to the most important and powerful people in the world, just like she's doing in Hamburg at the G20 Summit at the moment.

You can see her there in the front wearing a pink jacket organizing another group photo. There's been a few of them. It's a gathering of so many

countries often with different agendas, but there are common issues that concern everyone.

There's obviously North Korea, Syria, the migrant crisis, climate change, and trade as well. So what is the E.U. trying to take out of this summit?

We are joined by the chief spokesman for the E.U. Commission, Margaritis Schinas. He's in Hamburg.

Thanks, sir for being with us. First of all, I know this is something you have in fact tweeted out and I found it to be as well very significant.

The fact that the E.U., while pretty much no one was looking signed a big or announced a big trade agreement with Japan.

Is the E.U. looking already at a post-America world where their alliances lies beyond traditional friends?

MARGARITIS SCHINAS, CHIEF SPOKESMAN, E.U. COMMISSION: The European Union, Hala, is not against anybody, but we are for free and open trade. The

European Union is at the heart of the global agenda. We will engage across the policy spectrum.

We will engage in trade. We will engage in climates. We will cooperate on migration. We will help Africa. This is what makes the European Union a

catalyst for change or growth.

[15:20:13]And this does not necessarily mean that we are doing all this against somebody, we are doing it for a rules-based world economy.

GORANI: But not against somebody, but Angela Merkel herself in May said, look, we can't necessarily rely on our traditional allies after the

election of Donald Trump and after the Brexit referendum. There seems to be some movement in that direction.

SCHINAS: Well, European leaders have been working together to cream out (inaudible) added value in areas where the E.U. can indeed make a

difference. Trade, migration, growth, climate, these are all areas where the European Union together can do much more than our individual member


And it's a pleasure as you rightly pointed out to come to the G20 Summit today having already in our luggage a historic free trade agreement, the

partnership agreement with Japan.

We have been engaging with meaningful talks with Merkel Sur (ph). There will be more openness in a very uncertain and very unstable world, if you

like, and the European Union will be increasingly playing the role of stability, an anchored stability in a very uncertain world.

GORANI: Well, obviously after the Brexit referendum, now you have the big, big question, which is probably the most important one for the E.U. of how

to manage the divorce with the United Kingdom.

We thought Theresa May was one of the leaders posing in that group photo. Where does that leaves the U.K.? We're only a few in to the talks, is it

realistic to expect all of this to be wrapped up in two years? It took you so much longer with Canada and Japan?

SCHINAS: Well, today, the G20, Brexit is not at the heart of the discussions. Actually I don't think it was mentioned at all. The G20 is

about engaging in the global agenda. The Brexit negotiations are now in the hands of the divorce lawyers.

And as you know, we have good ones at the European Union. Our chief negotiator, Mitchel Barnier, is now fully engaged and committed with his

British counterparts. We already had the first round of Article 50 negotiations, as we call them.

Next week, we will have a new round starting the 17th of July. So there is a timetable that would help us to agree on three things, to clear the

accounts, to set the bills, if you like, to work for a comprehensive solution for E.U. nationals living in the United Kingdom and British

nationals living in the European Union.

Work a practical solution along the Irish border and when sufficient progress is achieved along these three areas, then we can engage in

discussing the terms of future relationship. That's where we are.

GORANI: Do you think it will be with Theresa May in the next few months still? Do you think she will continue to be prime minister? I mean,

within the European Union, is that the expectation?

SCHINAS: This is not for the European Union to speculate or comment about. This is in -- it doesn't have a relationship with us. For us, Theresa May

is the prime minister and Her Majesty's government is our (inaudible) in the Article 50 negotiations.

GORANI: And I want to ask you one last question about the G20. You obviously followed like the rest of the world today this first face-to-face

between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

We discussed how the E.U. is announcing big agreements with Japan. Is this summit, a summit where we are seeing emerge a new world order? Where you

have the anti-globalization forces and those who embrace free trade? Are we seeing things recompose themselves do you think?

SCHINAS: Hala, for the European Union, the G20 should not be a loud speaker for individual voices of concerns. The G20 is a platform where we

work to bring about cooperation, ideas, proposals, added values, and this is what the European Union is all about.

[15:25:00]So everything that goes in that direction, it is very much welcome. This is our core business in the European Union and we'd love --

we'd like to see around us people talking to each other, working to produce common solutions across the board in foreign policy, in terrorism.

We had a very meaningful leaders' declaration on terrorist measure today. This is what we want to see. This is what we are striving for.

GORANI: Margaritis Schinas, thanks very much, the chief E.U. spokesperson, joining us from Hamburg today. We appreciate your time this evening.

So we know that President Trump asked Mr. Putin about Russian meddling in the 2016 election during today's meeting. But the Russian leader again

denied involvement and talked about moving passed the controversy.

Moving forward could be difficult, though, but those current and former U.S. intelligence officials say Moscow has, in fact, increased its spying

efforts since election.

CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, is part of the team that broke that story and he joins me now from Washington with details. So in

what way is, in fact, Russia increasing sort of its cyber activities?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Well, that's right. We are told that the Russians spies are ramping up their intelligence

gathering efforts in the U.S. according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, who say they have noticed an increase since the


The Russians have not been slowed by retaliatory efforts after it meddled in the U.S. election according to the U.S. intelligence community.

Officials say they have been replenishing their ranks since the U.S. expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying last December.

In some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information. We asked the FBI for comment, they refused as did

the Russian embassy, which did not respond for a comment -- Hala.

GORANI: And so if U.S. intelligence knows all of this, why aren't they stopping it?

PROKUPECZ: While even after the meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, both the Obama and Trump administrations have been slow to take measures to

respond to the intelligence threat according to current and former U.S. officials.

Also partisan political disagreements over the Russian activity and President Donald Trump's reluctance to accept intelligence conclusions

about Russia's meddling in the election has slowed efforts to counter the threat.

Another issue is an ongoing frustration with the State Department over the granting of visas to people the U.S. intelligence suspect are intelligence

officers. A State Department official not comment specifically on the visas.

But here is some of what they are doing certainly the FBI here, which leads the counter intelligence investigations here in the U.S. They are

certainly pretty active on keeping an eye on those they suspect maybe here spying in the U.S.

GORANI: All right, Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much.

Still ahead, a stunning CNN exclusive, we report from inside Raqqa, the frontline in the battle against ISIS in Syria.

Smiles, handshakes, and two hours plus of talking, it seems like a positive set forward in the Trump-Putin relationship. We will hear from a former

American ambassador to Russia.


[15:30:42] GORANI: American President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had met for the first time in person. The two

spent much longer than effected more than two hours, discussing a range of topics. According to the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russia has

alleged meddling into the U.S. election was discussed. In fact, that was the first topic that Trump brought up.

Also, a partial ceasefire has been agreed between the U.S., Russia, and Jordan in Southwest Syria. And finally, Tillerson said that Syrian leader

Bashar al-Assad will have to quit eventually. Eventually was the word.

Outside the Summit venue, German police trying to keep protesters at bay this evening. They've called in reinforcement in fact to deal with some of

the demonstrators look at, those were some of the scenes yesterday. A 160 police officers were injured, 70 people arrested in total.

Speaking of diplomacy right away, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, then the Gulf region for some shuttle diplomacy, do

hold talks in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait, trying to help resolve a boycott of Qatar by leading Arab State. Qatar is dismissing activation but

its finances terrorism and interferes in other country affairs.

And more now on our top story. The first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and President Putin. The two began the meeting on a

positive note. However, descriptions on one of the key points discussed differ. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Mr. Trump heard

and accepted Mr. Putin's word that Russia has not meddled in the U.S. election. The senior U.S. official disputes that account. Thomas

Pickering, the former American Ambassador to Russia is now at Brooklyn's institution. Thanks for being with us.

What did you make first of all of the fact that the two men met for more than two hours and clearly had prepared the announcement about Syria?

There was a warm body language, a warm handshake, it appeared friendly, Rex Tillerson the Secretary of State even said, you know, you couldn't

interrupt them. They were getting along so well, even Melania Trump could manage to do that. What do you make of all of these coming out of that


THOMAS PICKERING, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: I think that's really positive Hala. I think that we are to take a look at the question of were

we at the bottom then maybe of the U.S.-Russian relationship? Almost -- Everybody in Russia, almost everybody in America agreed that we were there.

Were the two presidents be able to get along, yes. Were they able to put some things together? Yes. That took some time and some careful

preparation. But that's what diplomacy is about. Making presidents look good at meetings in which they find a way, obviously, to sympathize and

empathize with each other. I think all of that is helpful.

I think that President Trump was smart to raise the question of the election intervention very, very early. President Putin did not, in

anyway, at all surprises by continuing to deny it. It will be an issue on which I suspect that continues to be the case. Asking the Americans to

provide the evidence is obviously, seeking to look at some of our most privilege intelligence information. We're not going to do that. That's I

think that made clear as well. But the forward part of the meeting, I think was also quite good. I thought Secretary Tillerson did a very good

job in laying out force a number of the questions they discussed and how they talked about it and how they look at it.

Certainly, Syria's --

GORANI: And Rex Tillerson --

PICKERING: -- is important to move on.

GORANI: Yes. And Rex Tillerson by the way, and this is something that, as far as Germans are concern. They can help but compare Rex Tillerson and

his Russian counterpart, well then on camera briefing when Rex Tillerson is sort of in the vain of what the White House has been doing recently. Held

an audio only of day four reporters. One of the things that Rex Tillerson.

PICKERING: But how -- I would just say --


PICKERING: -- it just say, cheer up press people. He wasn't talking to the press at all just a little while ago. So maybe you'll get on camera.

I think he did a good job. He should be on camera.

GORANI: You're right. Let's call it progress.


GORANI: OK. But let -- yes. But one of the things also Rex Tillerson said was, you know, the two leaders are eager to move on. They just want

to leave the past in the past. They don't want to relitigate these issues. I mean, this is kind of a signal coming from the Secretary of State that

this administration is not to too interested in, you know, investigating or going very deep into the question of Russian meddling in 2016?

[15:35:08] PICKERING: That remains to be seen but it is clear and it has been clear for a long time that the president himself, first said he didn't

believe it. Second, it laid down at war. So I said, well maybe, but there are others involved. Now, he's raised it. He kind of blame the Obama for

not raising it earlier himself. But if he didn't believe it, well consistency is not, I think basically a strong suit (ph) with the

president. So, we've seen all this back and forth. My own feeling is that for the good of humanity in the world, if they spent five minutes or 10

minutes on the election, they ought to spent 15 minutes on solving some of the other big problems that are out there.

The notion that the Russians would not seek to find a way to intervene with American elections as deep and insult as it is to us, in our democracy.

And the prices that his obviously, extremely important in our government, is something that borders on naive. Yes, even if, if in fact there is a

central tenet of international relations you know of interfere in the internal affairs of everybody else. But maybe, there's a special kind of

mandate for the intelligence services to that kind of work.

So, I'm not shock or surprised that they did.


PICKERING: I think that they got as far as they did without us having adequate defenses is important. I think the fact that we are limited in

what we can do offensively to cry to block that, means that we do need at this case on cyber to look at to the best defense is a good defense rather

than an offense. An offense mainly deescalation which the data control and we rather careful about that.

GORANI: And back with our -- sorry jump in --


GORANI: -- I just want to tell our viewers what they're seeing on the air right now. Is this live Sarah (ph)? Yes, these are live. So, starting to

serve get once again a little bit. I mean, you've seen extremist over the last 24 hours with police in Hamburg protesters, police now are using water

cannon. It appears that the protesters once again are having some fun with fireworks. Well, we will keep an eye on that as we continue our

conversation with Ambassador Pickering.

But where does leave Ambassador, Angela Merkel the traditional allies of the United States. Angela Merkel herself and we are discussing it earlier

in the program, said a few weeks ago, our traditional allies can't necessarily be relied upon anymore, there was Brexit, then there was the

election of Donald Trump. They've signed the EU a big or agree to a big trade agreement with Japan. It seems like we're seeing something quite

fundamental going on in terms of the world order. Would you agree with that?

PICKERING: We are and I think that we've been slow to catch on. I think it -- the Warsaw has speech in which Article V was finally mentioned as a

central tenet of our commitment to European defense under NATO. This is an extremely important move on the president's part. It's come too slow.

It's come too late. It's left too much if you can put it this way, hanging out in the Easter unattended to. And that has brought about, I think

greater sense in Europe that we have to provide for ourselves. Some of that has been encourage by President Trump. It is meet 2% contribution

goal to your own defense in NATO. I don't think that's necessarily bad but it has raised the question.

The issue now is it gone far enough? That it is not possible to recuperate it. And I worry about that. I wish I could tell you, I believe that it

has it and that we could do it. But that would be a little bit whistling past the grave yard at the present time. I think consistency on the part

of the president is something on this particular issue which would be extremely important in trying to break back the relationships, in which the

mutual interdependence of both Europe and the United States and our friends and allies in Canada in the defense arrangement is critically important.

We haven't achieved that yet.

A progress with Russia should help us. There is no value in splitting the Europe -- Europe and the United States over Russia and there was little

value, I think in trying to find a way to deal with processes and agreements where Russia has to play a role in which we exclude Russia, if

we can bring them along. Tillerson said something important on Syria, we both agree on objectives. We don't get agree on methods but even then, we

got a small agreement on a ceasefire in Southwest Syria.

GORANI: Right. Well --

PICKERING: So, I would say it makes report --

QGORANI: They -- they agree on objectives today. They certainly didn't do that a few years ago. It seems that they on to (INAUDIBLE) now.



GORANI: Thank you Thomas Pickering, the former American Ambassador to Russia.

PICKERING: Thank you, Hala.

GORANI: We appreciate it.

Just a quick on what you're seeing on your screen there. Violence is flaring up once again. It appears that protesters have set fire to

something. I'm not quite sure whether it's a vehicle or something else. And police forces are using water cannon, I saw some fireworks as well.

[15:40:08] We'll keep an eye on what's going on in Hamburg because overnight there were also pockets of violence across the city. So, we'll

let you know if anything flares up in any significant kind of way.

Right now, though it is this, I mean, in all the G-20 Summit, you'd see this type of thing. We'll see if they gets out of hand or gets any worse.

We will bring that to you. Of course John Avlon is a CNN political analyst and editor in chief at The Daily Beast.

So, John it was the hand shake and the meeting that the entire world just stop to watch between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. What was your first


JOHN AVLON, EDITOR-INVESTIGATOR FRIEDMAN CHIEF, DAILY BEAST: What we know about the meeting it appears unfortunately that Donald Trump got rolled.

You know, we are told he brought up the subject of election hacking. But at least according to translation of Lavrov's comments, he accepted

President Putins protest. But he had nothing to do with it. And more over it appears those consensus that it's time to move on from the perspective

of these two governments.

Not only that. But there is news which needs to be defined further than some kind of savage security working group well be formed. I mean, this is

darkly ironic and vast dangerous and worst. So, this is truly troubling from an American leadership standpoint. We basically act we ask to what

our intelligence say this is believe and as a matter of consensus. Absent the president that Russia hacked our elections.

GORANI: Well we had former official and observers through out this hour say, this in fact positive. Other presidents have try to restart relations

with Russia and failed. I mean, Barack Oboma tried. George Bush tried and the relationship eventually soured. That this in fact could be good.

Look, we have an announcement on Syria. There is proof.

AVLON: Yes. And then that was something that had been in the works. But in self seeds influence to Russia. Look it comes denominator and restarts

that go badly among our recent presidents is Vladimir Putin. And while Mr. Putin can take apparently some comfort and in fact that Donald Trump has

been quite eager to cozy up to him and certainly reluctant to take him on in any conventional sense during the campaign and his president. That has

now been institutionalize.

And while they'll be playing optics about, you know, strong leaders trying to, you know, organize the world in a more stable manner. The basic open

wound exist which is that Russia attempt to influence our elections. We know this. And that the president, his government have decided to call

that basically a matter for the past. And why we would rationally believe that there is room for honest dealings with Vladimir Putin based on the

trajectory of the last several presidents who try to reset is beyond.


AVLON: So, we'll see if we can get some set another game and (INAUDIBLE) we're going to try to do that.

GORANI: But at the same time, look, at the same time -- John if I can in. At the same time --

AVLON: Sure.

GORANI: -- sanctions are still in place. The Russians want access to those compounds that outside of Washington where some of their diplomats

were assisted from. That's not necessarily happening in summit. All right they're giving in on everything that Russia is asking for. This

administration quite the contrary.

AVLON: And yet, and we'll see about the spy houses. They did announce the Ukrainian an envoy in Ukraine today who has a record of independence and

taking this issues seriously. But -- And the Senate overwhelmingly voted to keep sanctions in place. And so far the administration has resisted

that a bit. And see have to see what the house of Representatives does.

Look, you know, we will take our games where we can find them. But let's not be pollyannish (ph) about the prospect for piece in our time.

GORANI: Thanks very much John Avlon. Always a pleasure having you on the program.

AVLON: Thank you Hala.

GORANI: This is The World Right Now. Still ahead, a CNN exclusive direct from the city ISIS called it's capital. We'll take you to Raqqa in Syria

to get a first hand look at the battle there.


[15:46:05] GORANI: Well, we ran a video something now that no other western news organization can do. Take you into the epi center of the

bottle against ISIS in Syria. CNN has gained exclusive access in to the old city of Raqqa. The place ISIS thinks of as its capital. Today back to

U.S backed force has breach the historic and strategic wall. Our Nick Paton Walsh became the first journalist to glimpse inside. Nick joins us

now from Northern Syria.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, interesting the progress swift and then you might perhaps step forth by the Syrian caddish

and Arab forces back by a lot of U.S. assistance both in the air and on the ground. We saw some people calling out till they strikes no far from where

we found this report.

But interestingly, the progress in to the old city dents worrying of streets assisted by USS trying to breach the wall on it sounds as

perimeter. And that Syrian forces inside the bottle line is. Here's what we saw a few hours earlier.


WALSH (on-camera): We are now inside the old city walls of Raqqa, the capital of ISIS as self declared caliphates in (INAUDIBLE) in which they

will make their final stand in Syria and really the Middles East. That wall, a key milestone coalition forces and the Syrian, Kurds and Arabs are

now control fully about two or 300 meters inside of the old city here.

Down that way 200 meters are ISIS positions. The force is here. Don't move around mush in the daylight because of the risk of ISIS snipers less

so in the streets. But it's in light by the majority of the movement forward is in fact made. We've seen U.S forces here not far from this

positions and not to be filmed or even notice frankly. But you understand it then calling in the air strike. Not from the (INAUDIBLE), that's

allowing these forces to move forward. Frankly, so quickly. I've been surprise how little of the city ISIS apparently are in right now. An area

possibly 1/2 to three miles and in terms size.

So, increasingly small. And it's a rain that they hold. But as we saw in most in Iraq civilians apparently held in the midst unable to flee because

of the ISIS snipers are real impediments for these Syrian, Kurdish and Arab fighters. But still the progress here marking potentially the last time

that ISIS can say they hold the city in Syria.


WALSH: Now extraordinary day because during that day in the extreme heat of noon the Kurdish fighters, the Syrian, Arab, Kurdish fighters they

mostly in place. It's in night when much of the bombing occurs. And that for we could hear virtually in the air around the city last two nights.

The volume of coalition of how being used, it seem to partially completes thrown anything at the disposal to push ISIS back.

Now I should point out the fighting we've been seeing in mostly of the past eight month is a lot more intense there than what we saw in Raqqa. Yes,

certainly the fighting there is hot but a terrain certainly in the out skirt city is much more diffuse than outreaching the more dense of an area

of Raqqa. But they do appear to be a lot less civilians in the cross fire hitting the where in Mosul too. Numbers potentially has lose 50,000 may be

here and also possibly as many as 150. So, that could ease the job of this forces here. And also we're dealing with a very weak in ISIS.

They pretty much lose most. So, now that's simply a matter of days until the Iraqi forces declare victory. And now this is their last major city.

A place symbolic for them. And they lost a lot more than a lot faster frankly tonight. I felt they would and they said, looking at something

that we saw there seem to be an area analyst (ph). But what an half miles across and three miles tools. So very little, that city has been in their

hands or not really surrounded by these ISIS. Hala.

GORANI: All right. Nick Paton-Walsh in Northern Syria. Thanks very much. Much more to come on CNN. Stay with us.


[15:51:29] GORANI: Instead of pictures worth a thousand words, but some of the images we've seen from the G-20 are anything to go by. They're enough

to feel really a novel from the stunned look on the faces of Donald Trump and Angela Merkel up today finally shook hands. Remember, there was no

hand shake when they met back in March at leas t in the Oval Office that happened a little bit later too.

This one, the German chancellor appearing less than impress as he spoke to both Mr. Trump, and French President, Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime

Minister, Theresa May looking symbolically alone among the European counterparts. This someway could have been listed straight from the pages

of Jane Austin, our Senior Media Reporter Dylan Byers is in L.A with more.

Here is one of the other one that got the -- now it's ages Twitter of course, where everything is retwitted, memes, you name it. There was an

eye roll of Angela Merkel the German Chancellor appear to roll her eyes at Vladimir Putin. Take a look.

Yes, I think that was an eye roll, Dylan.

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: That looks like an eye roll to me. No question.

GORANI: And that was beautiful.

BYERS: This is one of big problems with the G-20. Here you have the most powerful people in the world meeting together under very sort of awkward

circumstances giving the current geopolitical climate.

Certainly, the elephant in the room being president of the United States Donald Trump, so many of the leaders of this countries, they're coming from

countries where the people have extremely low levels of confidence in President Trump even lower than people in this country. And they get

together and they have these meetings, most of them in private. And we as the public are left to sort of look on and sort of (INAUDIBLE) and like

what we can of the shrug here and eye roll there, a hand shake there, and this hand shake here. And they say, get all the sort of things that feel

like, you know, awkward high school yearbook photos so much more, still been an actual real indication of what's actually coming out of these


And indeed, the one big meeting that did happen between President Trump and the Russian President Vladimir Putin, there are two sides to that story

about what actually happen in terms of whether or not the President pressed Putin on Russian meddling in the election and how that exactly shook out.

So again, we're really sort of pulling threads to learn what we can and there's only so much we can claim.

GORANI: Now, we know Dylan how this meeting between Trump and Putin was covered in Russia was portrayed as a victory for Vladimir Putin in fact,

Sergey Lavrov and this is where the contradiction as you mentioned, there are different read out. Sergey Lavrov said, the U.S. President heard and

accepted the fact that Russia hadn't meddled in the 2016 election. That's something U.S. official is disputing.

Now, in Russia it's cover very positively for Vladimir Putin and unsurprisingly. So, how is it being covered in the United States?

BYERS: Well, I think there's reasonable skepticism about what actually happened in that meeting. I think if Trump and his administration had

built up more trust among the American people, we might be more prone (ph) to believe what this administration is telling us. It sort of hard to do

so, again, what we know is we're learning what we can from, you know, anonymous administration officials and people close to the President. And

what we've learned is that the President is telling a different story with the President of the United States and his administration area saying, is

that he did pressed him and that he did not take Putin saying that, you know, show me the proof for an answer.

But, look, generally, I think what both sides from the ground is that they're trying to move forward or at least that's what both sides are

saying that sort of fits the Venn diagram of the two different versions of what took place in that meeting which lasted from more than two hours.

[15:55:12] But again, what was really said in that meeting is something that neither the Russian people nor the American people are actually really

ever going to know.

GORANI: And by the way, Dylan, it's not just what the leaders as said but significant it's also what they've been listening too. In the past hour,

they have been enjoying the work of one of Germany's greatest composers Beethoven, but it's the specific piece that striking an accord with some

observers. The symphony is Beethoven's Ninth which ends with the famous "Ode to Joy" the European Union anthem.

And it maybe both awkward for both Donald Trump he is no fan of the E.U. and one of supposed allies the British Prime Minister Theresa May. Dylan,

obviously, this is no accident. And as, you know, and many of our viewer now when Emmanuel Macro won the French presidency he walked out into the

court yard of (INAUDIBLE), with "Ode to Joy" playing him in, which is the European anthem, this is an ode to globalization essentially. It was

interesting seeing the faces of the leaders assemble there.

BYERS: Yes, absolutely. And again, yet another sort of awkward visual coming out of the summit, but, you're right, it's not accident at all. All

symbolism that, you know, this where sort of state craft needs stage craft and it was absolutely intentional. It's absolutely meant as a sort of

power move by the German Chancellor. And then sort of way of saying, look, we stand firmly behind the European Union, we believe not only that the

European Union can be strong, but then it can actually be the leader in a world where the United States is sort of step back and created a sort of

free range for other powers to make deals.

I think it was a very powerful statement by the German Chancellor certainly one, that the French President another European leaders were (INAUDIBLE)

within and, you know, no question that if you're Trump or Theresa May sitting in that audience that you're reading the message loud and clear.

GORANI: Thank you

Images there from a little bit earlier this evening in Hamburg, with assemble leaders listening to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Thanks very much

Dylan Byers. Have a great weekend.

BYERS: Thank you.

GORANI: And all of you as well. Have a great weekend if this is your weekend. I'm Hala Gorani. This is The World Right Now. "Quest Means

Business" is up next.