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CONNECT THE WORLD
Working Around The Clock; After The Storm; A Way With Words; First Look At Hurricane Damage On Dominica; War Of Words Over North Korea; South Korean President Expresses Hope For Peace. Aired 11a-12n ET
Aired September 21, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:20] BECKY ANDERSON, CONNECT THE WORLD, CNN: A tidiest search as Mexico mourns rescue workers keep up their search for survivors, including
at this collapsed school. We are live at Mexico City with a full update for you.
Also ahead this hour, a bird's eye view of a devastated land. We are going to update on hurricane Maria and the mayhem that it has left in its wake.
Plus, political metaphor, United Nation North Korea lashes out at U.S. President Donald Trump. We are there with the explanation this hour.
Hello, welcome. This is Connect the World, I'm Becky Anderson for you in Abu Dhabi. It is just after 7:00 in the evening here. We will begin this
hour in Mexico City where the race to find survivors after Tuesday's massive earthquake has not stopped. At one school there is an intense
effort still underway. Rescuers digging through a mountain of debris. The work delicate, pain staking and has been non-stop. Rescuers need to hear
even the faintest sounds to try the reach survivors that calls for quiet, fists, raised in the air. CNN's Rosa Flores is at the school in Mexico
City, and she joins us now live. Any success, Rosa?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are signs of life right now, Becky. I'm whispering because if you take a look behind me, you were just showing
video of those fists being raised. That is what's going on right now and they have just ask, for it to go down. So I'm going to speak normally now.
But that is what we've been experiencing here today. Whenever we see those fists raised, we know those are signs of life. We know that rescuers are
either listening or had heard signs of life. I want to show you around, too. Because what's happening now is they are unloading metal beams. Now,
we had seen wooden beams unloaded before and carried in, but this is a new development now they are bringing metal beams. They are unloading them and
taking them closer to the school. We have seen more resources arrive at daybreak here. And the flow of resources really has not survived. Now, in
the past 20 or 30 minute I was able to go beyond this barricade and take a first look at some of the activity. And I can tell you that there is a lot
of coordination. There are police officers lined up ready to go replace whatever other, police officers are doing to make sure, that those shifts
keep rolling. I saw also rescue workers with bloodshot eyes that have been working for very long hours. I talked to one of them who had finished his
shift who said that he worked for 36 hours straight, and he wasn't the only one. He was one of a group of 25 men that had been working for 36 hours to
try to get to life in this pile of rubble. He was telling me a little bit about the mood as well. He said that it' been a roller coaster of emotion
for the people who had been volunteering here because they feel a lot of joy and energy when they hear that someone has been saved, when their
effort has saved someone, and of course the mood plummets he says whenever they hear that they were able to get to someone but that individual is
dead. The death toll here at this school rose overnight by a 58-year-old woman who was pulled from the rubble unfortunately dead that raises the
death toll here at the school to 26. 21 of those, children. Becky, I talked to a mother who lives in front of the school and said that parents
had been communicating via what's app groups. Unfortunately, they are communicating about funerals at this hour, because 21 those bodies that
were recovered were, children. Becky.
[11:05:09]ANDERSON: Absolutely awful, isn't it? All right Rosa, we thank you very much indeed for that. The scene in one part of Mexico City.
Hurricane Maria bearing down on the Dominican Republic this hour as it cuts a devastating path through the Caribbean. Forecasters say torrential rains
could bring life threatening flash floods and mudslides to the country that still hasn't dried out from hurricane Irma just two weeks ago. Maria has
now got the Turks and Caicos in its cross hair the storm is expected to strengthen once again as it churns through the warm waters. Puerto Rico
has a very long road to recovery ahead of it after taking a direct hit from Maria yesterday. All power on the island is out and may not be completely
back for four to six months. Puerto Rico's governor calls it the most devastating storm the hit the island this century if not in modern history.
CNN has a team of reporters covering Maria destructive path through the Caribbean. I want to start with CNN international correspondent Nick Paton
Walsh who is in Puerto Rico. Have a look at this.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Puerto Rico ravaged taking its first direct hit from a category 4 hurricane in nearly a century. The governor,
imposing curfew each night for Puerto Rico's 3.4 million residents. The entire island in the dark after the power grid was completely knocked out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are, looking at four to six months without electricity.
PATON WALSH: Roofs ripped off the buildings. Home reduced to rubble. Street swallowed by flood waters, littered with debris, gas stations under
water. The island's already fragile infrastructure decimated. The governor asking President Trump to declare the island disaster zone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most devastating storm either in the century or quite frankly, in modern history.
PATON WALSH: Hurricane Maria unleashing punishing winds up to 155 miles per hour. Pelting torrential rain sideways. And breaking trees in half as
residents rode out the storm some in shelters, others in stairwells.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never seen anything like this. The ferocity powering through. It is very alarming. Pulling out the trees, too.
PATON WALSH: This is the road of destruction re-encountered on our drive from of the east coast of the island in Pauma Del Mar where Maria made
landfall. A gas leak forcing us to evacuate our hotel. The scale of devastation staggering. The highway littered with dead trees, downed
electrical cables and telephone poles, propellers snapping off wind turbines. The closer we got to San Juan the more dangerous to drive to
Cain also inundating the roadways as we try to pass. The storm surges of upwards of five feet turning streets into rivers and parking lots into
swimming pools. The monster storm devastating much of the Caribbean. The worst of it captured in these aerial images from the island of Dominica
which took a direct hit from Maria with a category five storm. At least 14 are dead, many others still missing. Officials estimating about 70 percent
of the island's buildings damaged or destroyed.
ANDERSON: Nick is joining us now live from San Juan in Puerto Rico with the very latest. Your report, and the details from those who survived this
storm just harrowing. And as they pick up the pieces of their lives, Nick, warnings that it could be months before the power is back on, let alone
life anything like back to normal. The physical and psychological effects of this disaster are hard to imagine. How are people coping?
PATON WALSH: Actually, at this point bizarrely her, we have some information. I think they are coming up to us asking, how strong was that
storm? Is the airport open? Because the electricity is out. And also to cell phones. The basic things you count on beyond texting your mom to make
sure she survived the night OK that is out. They have to drive around to get basic information about their loved ones. Bear in mind the second one
is the power is out, too. If it is going to happen four to six months, that puts a lot of people's jobs in jeopardy. A huge rethink frankly on
daily life here. You see around me the devastation is pretty obvious but there are business trying to open their doors. Walgreens there still power
on but the doors are boarded up. People are taking shutters down by now sort of see.
[11:10:10] This has been the first morning they have really had. But there is a sense at this stage of amazement, but I think also an acceptance of
their enormity of the task ahead. We are obviously captivated by the extraordinary power and ferocity of the storm and the winds and the water
and the damage done where it made landfall. We drove through the island of San Juan last night. The broader question now is the boring one, the
months long of rebuilding, taking the debris out, putting the buildings back together and getting basic utilities up and running again. Becky, in
a country that was on its knees before hurricane Irma struck two week ago. 70 billion in debt. Even then, about half the population below the U.S.
poverty line. Not a good place, Irma comes in and that is a billion of dollars damage. People think they are lucky that they too a glancing blow
from hurricane Maria comes in, the worst for 90 years, 155-mile-an-hour winds, vast amounts of water. You can't pretend that it is not an ugly
year ahead. Becky?
ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh reporting for us from Puerto Rico. Nick showing you some of the damage on the island of Dominica. Thanks Nick.
One of the poorest countries in the Caribbean. Maria's wrath there was simply catastrophic, homes shredded apart, rainforest strip there, hills
eroded by landslides. The office of Dominica's Prime Minister says at least 14 people lost their lives. Water and food are scarce, and there is
widespread looting as the nation goes into survival mode. CNN's Michael Holmes shows us the devastation from the skies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Hurricane Maria hit Dominica at full category 5 strength and showed no mercy. Plowing through villages,
towns and the capital. Not a tree untouched across the island. Thousands snapped in two. No greenery left there was a spectacular rainforests here.
No more. This is as close as we or anyone can get to Dominica at least for now. The airports shut down. They are hoping to open it in the hours
ahead to see just how bad things are down there. But we can see from up here, this island has been hit and hit hard. We pass low, buffeted by the
remnants of Maria. Our pilot unable to land before on the ground safety checks the deemed the runway safe. The damage is island-wide. Where there
is a town or village, there is debris covering the landscape like confetti, houses ripped open, torn apart, roofs gone. We saw some cars moving but no
people, we did see evidence of numerous landslides on this mountainous island. The usually blue-green sea rendered brown in places from the earth
swept into it. Dominica has an agriculture-based economy. It is a sugarcane, banana plantation, citrus and most of that is exported. From
what we can see up here, that is gone, and the loss of those sources and their income is going to be devastating for this island and its people.
Of course, the immediate concern is the 73,000 residents here making sure aid gets in and quickly. Medical treatment, power, fresh water and shelter
the immediate priorities. Regional officials planning for aid flights and voyages to begin in force on Thursday from the nearby island of St. Louisa,
and hoping for clarity on just what had happened to island of Dominica. Michael Holmes, CNN, over the Dominica in the Caribbean.
ANDERSON: And a whole lot more on hurricane Maria ahead on this show this hour. We will get an update on the conditions in the Dominican Republic as
it takes a beating from this storm. And we will check in with CNN weather center, see what can be expected in the hours ahead. Just awful. Still to
come, and the Korean crisis provokes sharp debate at the U.N. What North Korea thinks about U.S. President Donald Trump fiery speech? And will he
or won't he? Mr. Trump boo prides himself on being the ultimate deal maker could be about to walk away from a historic deal with Iran. Well that is
coming up, after this.
[11:16:25] ANDERSON: This is America's Secretary of State in what is sure a pretty dull meeting room, to be on the spot, as the camera swings around,
there we go, that is Iran's foreign secretary, it is not called the United Nations for nothing. Because they met here for the first time on Tuesday
to talk about the Iran nuclear deal. Now, we are told the meeting was political, not technical, and that things were pretty calm. Well, the war
of words between North Korea and the United States also continues to cast a shadow over the U.N. General assembly. But South Korea's President has
stepped in, playing the peacemaker and calling for dialogue. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOON JAE-IN, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA (TRANSLATOR): We do not desire collapse of North Korea. We will not seek reunification by absorption or
artificial means. If North Korea makes a decision, even now, to stand on the right side of history, we are ready to assist North Korea together with
the international community. North Korea should acknowledge all these facts as soon as possible. It must immediately cease making reckless
choices that could lead to its own isolations and down fall and choose the path of dialogue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: That speech had very different tone than some earlier remarks. U.S. President Donald Trump threatening Pyongyang with total destruction.
The North Korea's foreign minister responding, saying Mr. Trump's comments were, well, like a barking dog.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RI YONG-HO, NORTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER: There is a saying. Dogs bark, but caravan goes on. If anyone think such remarks that is nothing more
than a dog's barking can frighten us, it is really a while dream.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Robyn Curnow is with us from the U.N. General assembly. As we listen to the response from North Korea, I'm sure that Donald Trump has
heard that response, we haven't, I don't think -- correct me if I'm wrong - - had a response from him on the North Korean response. What we do know, though, is there is a possible ANNOUNCEMENT, imminent from the U.S.
President on North Korea. Are we any clearer what Donald Trump might say?
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. And I think what is clear from all of those sound bites you just played and also what has been happening over
the past few days, Becky that there is a lot of political theater going on, a lot of banging of chests and lot of yelling. I spoke to Australia's
Prime Minister earlier on and he said there is substantial work going on behind the scenes and they need to shut out all the noise, whether it is
barking dogs or vows to destroy North Korea that is on the sideline. What needs to be done is the serious work that is been trying to done over the
past few decades of how to manage North Korea and it military and its nuclear ambitions.
[11:20:08] The South Korean leader very much playing a more moderate, tolerant, pushing negotiations saying they don't want a North Korea
collapsing on their borders. This is what else they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAE-IN (TRANSLATOR): We need United Nations to play more active role on the peninsula the most important role the United Nation has to play today
is to come up with fundamental measures to stop increased provocations and heightened sanctions. We need the United Nations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: So what we have there is that conversation taking place. Donald Trump has teased ahead like he tends to do, the reality TV star not giving
you a lot but kind of hints to something possible coming up after the ad break. That is going to be at midday here, in the next sort hour or so.
Some sort of announcement about sanctions. The really unclear the details of that. Analysts I have spoken to say these will be probably bilateral
sanctions. I mean, this is not appearing to be some sort of organized coalition deal. We do remember of course some pretty tough sanctions were
initiated last week or the week before by the U.N. This is another step, another tightening of the screws. Whether it changes North Korea behavior,
well that's anyone's guess.
ANDERSON: Robyn Curnow is at the U.N. G.A. UNGA as it's known. Well as far as North Korea, thank you Robin. Iran has been the talk of this U.N.
Let's get back to it then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are our friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Israeli's resolute leader turning to the language of Iran, to tell its people, hey, we like you. But contrast those words to this on
Tuesday, clapping, nodding as the world's most powerful man, the American President, referred to Iran as evil, murderous and one of the wicked fear
in his very first of the U.N.'s big yearly meeting. From the get-go, Mr. Netanyahu hasn't been shot about saying so. But he is kind of in a
majority of one. Well almost, mostly everyone else seemed to be pretty happy with it. Let's get you out to Washington now, where the research
Director of the National Iranian-American Council Reza Marashi describes himself as a lovable jerk parody. I hope you don't mind us letting the
world know that. Those were your words, not mine. Thank you for joining us. It been quite the week, a hot tempered speech from Donald Trump on
Iran, a more tempered speech from his Iranian counter-part. Now we are hearing talk that deal that is or but the spirit of the deal that the
Americans have an issue with. What do you make of what you have heard this week?
REZA MARASHI, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, NATIONAL IRANIAN-AMERICAN COUNCIL: Two things stand out to me, Becky, above all else. First and foremost I have
lived in Washington for over 12 years. I worked inside the U.S. Government at the U.S. Department of state, I have been outside for about seven years
now. I have never seen the United States so isolated on the issue of Iran. All of the unity that had been built up over years is completely
evaporated. And you see to the point now where the Europeans are having coordination meetings with the Iranians before joint commission meetings
are held, where all parties of the nuclear agreement are meeting at the same table. This truly a striking about face. A complete 180 from the
duration of Barack Obama's presidency. And the other thing that stands out to me how the Iranian people have been responding to Netanyahu's speech and
Trumps. Iranian twitter blew up after both of those speeches it was interesting to see that trending on twitter was shut up Trump, shut up
Netanyahu. They don't appreciate the disrespect and the lack of dignity that is being shown to them it really helps to unite the Iranian government
and the Iranian people in ways that previously we haven't seen.
ANDERSON: It wasn't just Israel to sort of applauding the positioning from the U.S. Let's be absolutely clear about this. Saudi Arabia's foreign
minister criticizing the kingdom's main rival for what it sees as not living up to the deal in terms of working on regional stability and there
is a bit of a consensus, certainly, across this region for that.
[11:25:12] But perhaps more surprisingly, I want to quote the French President here. Is this agreement enough? No, it is not. Given the
evolution of the regional situation and increasing pressure that Iran is exerting on the region. He said that on Tuesday, the day before, he told
CNN he still really wants to convince Donald Trump to stay in the deal. But in a concession, a bit concession here, that it must change. What's
really interesting here is that we are seeing on the one hand people who say look the deal is the deal. The deal was signed. Took a long time to
sign. It is a multilateral deal. It was ratified by the U.N. Security council. You know, it shouldn't be changed. And then perhaps we will get
Donald Trump saying well I want to change some of it. But what is interesting is we are seeing the renewed sort of energy in criticism of
Iran about its hegemonic tendencies as it were across this region where I live here in the Middle East. And we are seeing not just criticism from
the likes of Saudi which you would expect, but from the likes of the French President as well. Where are we going with this?
MARASHI: You raise a great point Becky. It no question that not only countries in the Middle East but also the United States, Europe, and
others, have very serious differences with the Iranian government about their policies in the region. However, there is also overlap between a
variety of positions that the U.S. and Europe have. I think the most important thing to point out here is that Macron was throwing Trump a bone
and trying to show Trump that you can stay in the deal while simultaneously addressing other points of differences. Wisely Mr. Macron emphasized that
we need to have additional dialogue and diplomacy, essentially JCPOA 2.0 on regional issues and other issues kind of outside the realm of the nuclear
deal like missiles and things of that nature. And that is a very different position than the Israelis, the Saudi's and others in the Middle East are
taking. They never wanted to see a nuclear deal on a first place and they have no interest at least at the present to see an additional dialogue and
diplomacy between Iran and the outside world.
ANDERSON: That is fascinating. Briefly, do you see there is an opportunity for a deal 2.0 at this point?
MARASHI: The opportunity is there. There is only one outlier that is the United States. It remains to be seen if the, quote, unquote, adults in the
room, the alleged adults in the room can reign in this President of the United States and get him to really focus on what America and global
interest truly are.
ANDERSON: Reza, it is always a pleasure having you on. Join us again. This is not going to be the last time that we have this discussion by any
stretch of the imagination. Thank you.
Before we move on, let me break this down because this is a fascinating shift, isn't it, in the narrative in just the last 48 hours. Make no
mistake, this is poker with nuclear chips. Fact. The deal is working. Fact that is a good thing. Fact, Iran wants it just took work as much as
everybody else does, it seems. So the threat to them, if you don't work with us on this, then what? You are going to be the new rogue state on the
block? Go the Pyongyang route? From Washington it is South America's Secretary of State, to Saudi Arabia, to the French President, we're seeing
Tehran being told this. You are throwing your weight t around way too much in the Middle East, forget the letter of this nuclear deal. That sort of
behavior is against the spirit of it. So let us sit down and talk about rejigging it, they seem to be saying, because you have more to lose than we
have. That is how it seems wear e seeing this narrative developing across U.S., Europeans, Saudi, and elsewhere. Fascinating. We will watch this,
because it's important.
The latest world news headlines are just ahead, plus -- an entire island without power after being pounded by a category 4 hurricane. CNN's
reporters, as you would expect, spread out across the region covering what is incredibly dangerous storm. Human stories after this short break.
[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching Connect the World. It is just after half past 7:00 in the UAE. This is on the east broadcasting and
these are your headlines this hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Hurricane Maria on cause for the Turks and Caicos gaining strength after lashing the Dominican Republic with heavy rain and strong
Puerto Rico got the full blown storm, as you can see pictures here on Wednesday and the entire island is without power. Donald Trump is with the
South Korean president. Let's listen in.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But much more importantly, frankly, than trade is the other aspect of our relationship that we're
working with -- and that has to do with North Korea.
So we are meeting on a constant basis. We'll be meeting in a little while, also, with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and that will be a tri-meeting. So
we will -- we will see. But I think we're making a lot of progress in a lot of different ways. Stay tuned. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (speaking foreign language)
MOON JAE-IN, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA: (speaking foreign language)
ANDERSON: Right, even if nothing from this as when we get a translation and we hear from the U.S. president, we will bring you both the words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:35:00] ANDERSON: Stay tuned said the former TV star turned U.S. president as he welcomed the South Korean president, and said that they
would talk trade but also more suggested they clearly would talk about what is the pressing issue.
And that is the issue of North Korea. So we'll keep an eye in that meeting for you and we will relay anything that is headline grabbing. Back to one
of our top stories this hour, we are tracking hurricane Maria as it steams towards Turks and Caicos.
ANDERSON: The storm slamming to Puerto Rico as a category four hurricane and we're learning now getting chance to suddenly catastrophic damage from
The CEO of the island's electric company says Puerto Ricans may be -- may be without power for months on the risk from flash flooding far from over.
We have five correspondents in this story across the island including CNN's Leyla Santiago. She filed a piece earlier on the impact of the storm from
San Juan. Have a look at this.
MIKE THEISS, STORM CHASER: (Inaudible) it's screaming, it's whistling across, there are stuff hitting the building, we hear glass breaking. We
are definitely, definitely, in a dangerous situation.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Maria roars the shore in the early morning hours making landfall near the city of Yabucoa, at a 50 miles south
of San Juan. A monster category four storm with winds over 155 miles per hour. Trees snap like twigs, roots thrown away, parking lots filed with
cars all under water.
Debris everywhere dangerously comes around in the wind. Phone service is out. Officials say the entire island is without power and San Juan's mayor
said the outlook is very green.
MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN (via phone): We're looking at four to six months without electricity in the island nation of Puerto Rico.
SANTIAGO: Those powerful winds have New Jersey resident posted these pictures of the trees outside her home yesterday and the same trees 24
I've been trying to find the words ferocious of the same to be even be enough. Maria is the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 89 years.
Something I experienced firsthand. The street of San Juan, heavy rain falling heavily at a rate of 5 to 7 inches an hour combined with the storm
surge to cause massive flooding turning streets into muddy rivers.
Many tourists were stranded after airlines cancelled all flights on Saturday, yet one official told everyone on the island to evacuate or die.
On the island of more than 3 million, only 11,000 people were reported to abandoned shelters, many just huddled in stairwells above floodwaters and
away from glass.
Overseeing the first images of the horrific aftermath from Maria on the island of Dominica, at least seven people are dead, many are missing.
Officials estimate some 70 percent of Dominica's buildings damaged or destroyed.
The island of 73,000 with virtually no phone service or power. Late today, Governor Ricardo Rossello and President Trump have declared Puerto Rico a
disaster zone, and feature this to CNN.
GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO: This is the most devastating storm either in the century or quite frankly in modern history.
SANTIAGO: Leyla Santiago, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
ANDERSON: Let's get you to CNN's meteorologist Chad Myers who is joining me now. We saw so many of those residents as Leyla pointed out, not going
into shelters and sit in corridors, stairwell, keeping away from windows. What can they expect, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, for four to six months without power in a tropical climate to me it seems it would be more devastating than the
being put in Alaska, I guess where it's cold. At least you could put on some warmer clothes.
The thing is here and Becky, the truth of the matter is that if you get a power outage in Montreal, you can take your bucket trucks from Ottawa and
from New York, and you can drive them to Montreal to put the power lines up pretty quickly. You can't drive to Puerto Rico.
MYERS: You can't take a bucket truck from South Florida and get it there, and really any amount of time you could put it on a ferry but think about
how laborious that would be to get them there. So what you see is what you get.
The equipment that regularly puts up power lines on a daily basis now has to put up about every power line on the entire island. So that's the
lengthy process what we're seeing now. It is still 185 kilometer per hour storm. It is still going to move in to Turks and Caicos. We're still
going to see a half of meter or rainfall.
[11:40:00] But the good news is for Bermuda and for United States proper, the 48 lower states is that it does look like it's a miss for them, for
both of those areas. Now Puerto Rico, you're still in flooding and significant flooding.
Some of the newest reports about 1,200 millimeters of rainfall in 40 hours, think about what that would do to an area that actually does have
ANDERSON: Absolutely remarkable. Chad, thank you.
MYERS: You're welcome.
ANDERSON: We are in Abu Dhabi, you're watching Connect the World. Coming up we're just days away from this historic vote that could redraw the map
of Iraq. I speak to top Kurdish official, up next.
ANDERSON: All right, you're watching CNN, this is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. It is 42 minutes past 7:00 here. ISIS political mayhem,
an economy as weak as it is corrupt. Iraq put a list of problems as long as your arm and now there maybe one more.
ANDERSON: One of the biggest, most peaceful and ruthless parts of Iraq sheer the area of Kurdistan wants to go its own way. Set to hold an
independent vote right after the weekend, Monday next week. They support further among the Kurds, sure you can see that in rallies.
But it's a long way from universal backing even among themselves, plus Iraq itself, Iran, Turkey, neighbors of course, the U.S. are all totally
against it going ahead.
Falah Mustafa Bakir head of Foreign Relations to the Kurdistan Regional Government effectively Iraqi-Kurdistan foreign minister, and the man who's
been lobbying world powers ahead of this referendum at the U.N. General Assembly from where he joins me now.
Mr. Bakir government in Tehran, in Ankara and Baghdad oppose this referendum, so do the U.S., the U.K., and indeed the United Nations where
you'll be meeting with diplomats. Will this referendum go ahead as planned to this and why now?
FALAH MUSTAFA BAKIR, HEAD, FOREIGN RELATIONS TO THE KURDISTAN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT: There friend everyone, go ahead and we are disappointed at the
international community when all these nations are free and they deny as to be free.
We are -- we are people. We deserve about the future. We are determined to go ahead with this referendum and I believe the international committee
should respect the will of the people and for the neighboring countries to respect the will of the Iraqi people. This is an issue between...
ANDERSON: The problem is...
BAKIR: ... Baghdad.
ANDERSON: The problem is that you and your colleagues in central government in Baghdad have just emerged out of years of fighting ISIS in
Iraq. Certainly that's what said the argument is in Baghdad.
[11:45:00] They say why push for an independence vote now.
BAKIR: Well we have been asking for independence a while ago, but we have been told this is not the right time and indeed we don't understand and we
don't know when is the right time for as we believe time has come because we have not been able to build a democratic Iraq as we were promised.
We have been fighting for a federal Democratic (Inaudible) Iraq but we ended up having no meaning of our partnership. We don't feel partners. We
don't feel equal citizens of the country, and indeed we are denied this right. And we don't feel that we have a future in the Iraq.
ANDERSON: And there will be people who will absolutely sympathize with your argument. There are others who say that this risks greater violence
and even outright war if this referendum goes ahead, to which you say what?
BAKIR: Well first of all, I say that we want to do this peacefully. We are committed to dialogue and negotiations with Baghdad. This is something
between Erbil and Baghdad to sort it out and we expect very well to respect the will of the people of Kurdistan and also to engage for the day after.
We will do they after to start serious and meaningful dialogue with Baghdad, so that we address all the issues that's outstanding course adding
the short history, (Inaudible) of both of our behalf.
We want Baghdad to be strategic depth for Erbil and vice versa. That's right, I don't think it is good for the international community to deny us
the right to subject termination. This is a given right.
It is in the U.N. charter and other nations have been fighting for it, some have got it, some out of their way. I don't believe it is good and wise
for the international community to deny the people of Kurdistan this right.
ANDERSON: Yes. All of your points are absolutely true. Kurds of course the biggest minority group in Iraq. There are large communities of course
in other countries. That is just that remind our viewers of that.
There are 25 to 30 million living in a region they called Kurdistan, and of course that is not internationally recognized as a nation state. Now that
spans parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Armenia, there are also treaties of course in Georgia Azerbaijan, and in Turkmenistan.
So what happens the day after the vote? If it is a vote for independence, will you be declaring independence or will you use these results purely as
a sort of negotiation position, a gambit as it were with Baghdad.
BAKIR: Well infact, we have been very clear from the day one that this referendum will provide a legitimate mandate from the people of Kurdistan
to the leadership in order to go to Baghdad and negotiate on this issue.
We want it to be peaceful. We want it to be free on understanding and we want to become two good neighbors with each other since we have failed in
becoming two good partners in the same country, then it is important for us to have it as satisfactory solution between Erbil and Baghdad.
We are determined to continue the dialogue and I would like also to the reaffirm our commitment to the fight against ISIS. I would like to
reaffirm our commitment to care for the refugees and IDP's (ph) will have been in Kurdistan region and also our stand for the protection of the
Kurdistan is proud of what he has achieved so far and we will continue the dialogue in order to get what we want peacefully with Baghdad.
ANDERSON: Sir, we thank you for that. Finally, there are media reports today that Paul Manafort, one time Donald Trump campaign manager and now
subject of numerous inquiries against possible Russia connections with the candidate was actually working for you on the Kurdish referendum
specifically looking to gone international support unsuccessfully it seems, is that true?
BAKIR: Well as far as I'm concerned, and also the department that I had and also my government. I'm not aware of this and I have not worked with
him, and I don't know him.
ANDERSON: With that, we'll leave it there. You make yourself very clear. Thank you, sir.
BAKIR: Thank you.
ANDERSON: A monumentally important story that we are going to stay with you or stay on for you of course, and that's Monday, that we're going to
have quick break. Now the show only going to get better after this, so don't go away.
[11:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDERSON: Hello, you're watching Connect the World. If you just joined us, you are more than welcome, 10 to 8:00 here in the UAE. More than three
million people in Puerto Rico are living without electricity today. This is a top story for us. Hurricane Maria came through yesterday as category
four storm, knocking out power on the entire island.
The governor says restoring power everybody may take months, some are making do generators, allowing some to share images of what they
experiences as Maria battered the island. My colleague Randi Kaye had followed it for you.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was no mistaking the force of Maria as it slammed Puerto Rico.
ROSSELLO: This is the most devastating storm either in the century or quite frankly in modern history.
KAYE: First, came the winds.
THEISS: We are absolutely pounded here. That northern eye wall has come through here and expects the constant wind. It's screaming, it's whistling
across, there are stuff hitting the building, we hear glass breaking. We are definitely, definitely, in a dangerous situation.
KAYE: Then, the water. An eye witness capture these floodwaters that they rush through the rush through the streets of (Inaudible), located on Puerto
Rico's Caribbean cost. One visitor to Puerto Rico shot this video from the window of his hotel room in San Juan.
JENNIFFER GONZALEZ-COLON, RESIDENT COMMISSIONER, PUERTO RICO: The man nature is that the whole island is without power. We receive between 18 to
35 inches of rain which means the whole area is flooded. A lot of the rivers overflowing, their banks and that the danger is (Inaudible).
KAYE: This video outside an apartment building shows how bad the flooding is. A traveling tennis coach staying at a hotel in San Juan with about 200
people posted this on Instagram.
The power was out, he said and the generator they've been counting on failed. The water in his photos was coming up from the lagoon. He told
CNN the water is coming up on the lobby, so we had to move to higher floors.
The wind and rain so strong at times, gusting to 155 mile per hour, residents in Puerto Rico were forced to stay inside, never daring to open a
door or window.
All of this after the monster storm devastated much of the Caribbean, including St. Croix and Dominica with the lingering fear of where it's
headed next. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You worked hard for what you want in life that your word is your bond. If you do what you say you are going to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Repairing is impress on me, the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Remember that? That was bit of a face palm, right? But not for a lot of America's first lady Melania Trump was soon having the last laugh
because -- maybe because for a change it wasn't that she was wearing that was tripping like last night when something she was liking a way little too
fluorescently while taking online bullying.
All when she didn't exactly put her best foot forward by slipping in some stilettos on her way to hurricane disaster. But apparent fashion faux pas
aside, words are again appropriate. Now Melania had a lot of them.
She can battle off five languages I'm told, Serbian, French, Slovenian, German and last by numerously at least English, that led to this.
[11:55:00] A billboard from an English language school in Croatia. Melania had some words back. You might want to know lawyer up school, well state
(Inaudible) a linking to this.
An absolute belter of a tune described as -- of the finest teen pop songs of its era, proving that a sorry doesn't have to be the hardest word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. You need to accept my apology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: It is not clear whether or not Melania will accept it. I'm Becky Anderson, that was Connect the World. Thank you for watching. See
you same time, same place on Sunday.