Return to Transcripts main page
North Korea Drops Demand in Order to Give Up Nukes; Saudis Go to the Movies; Comey Talks About Russia. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired April 20, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Matthew Chance in Moscow, and this is CNN.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles, ahead this hour, a possible game changer in talks with North Korea. Pyongyang, drops a key demand in exchange for giving up his nukes. Plus conversations with the President of the United States on everything from media links, to Russian (hookers)ph. We're getting the first look at the memo's from the five FBI director, James Comey.
And a new era Saudi Arabia, for the first time in a generation, a night out at the movies is not against the law. Hello, great to have you with us, I'm John Vause, we're starting three hours now, this is the first hour of Newsroom L.A. North Korea appears to have made a major concession ahead of that possible summit with U.S. President, Donald Trump.
According to South Korea's President, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un has dropped a long standing demand that U.S. troops leave South Korea as a condition for denuclearization. More than 28,000 American troops are stationed in the South, there's no indication they will with draw anytime soon.
And it's not the only concession from the North, last month it dropped its opposition to military drills between the United States and South Korea, those drills have long outraged Pyongyang. Meantime, the leaders of the North and South Korea will have their own historic summit, one week from now. Both sides are scheduled to have rehearsals in the coming days.
CNN Paula Hancocks joins us now live from Seoul, Paula this is a whole new North Korea, they're OK with U.S. troops on the peninsula, and there's been this deafening silence on the U.S., South Korea military drills. Missile launches, nuclear test's that's so 2017. So, what's going on in Pyongyang?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN ANCHOR: Well John, I think that the basic asset's of that, they want these summits to happen. And at this point and time, they want these summits to be successful. I don't want to get too much into symantec's but with the comment from President Moon on Thursday, he didn't necessarily say that North Korea had dropped their demand to get rid of the U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula, it's that they didn't make the demand.
Now, people I've been speaking to about this, this morning, say it's very unlikely that North Korea will drop that for good, that will come back potentially in later negotiations. One defector I spoke to who was a member of the North Korean elite, has said that potentially it could used as a final card if the U.S., in fact Korea demand this irreversible, verifiable denuclearization then they can come out with this card and say you well you have to get rid of the U.S. troops.
And there's very few people this is off the table for good, because it has long been a sticking point for the North Koreans, they don't want the U.S. troops to be here. But we did also hear from the South Korean President when he was talking to domestic reporters on Thursday, that he thought there was no difference between North and South Korea when it came to the word denuclearization.
There's been much made of the fact that it means a very different thing to the North Korean's then it does to the South Korean's and the U.S. And he pushed back on that, he thought that they were on the same page when it came to what had to happen. John.
VAUSE: Paula, thank you. Yes, words are important that even when those words actually seem to mean something that could mean something else, I guess that's what diplomacy is called. We appreciate it, Paula Hancocks live for us there in Seoul. Let's go to Paul Carroll now, the senior advisor with nuclear disarmament group in (Scray's)ph. Joining us now from San Francisco, Paul, always good to have you with us.
PAUL CARROLL, SENIOR ADVISOR WITH NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT GROUP: My pleasure John.
VAUSE: This is exactly what President Moon told, you say, the publishers in Seoul. North Korea has exposed willingness to give up its nuclear program without making a demand. That U.S. forces withdraw from the Korean peninsula. They only talk about ending the hostile policy against North Korea and then guarantee their security.
With that complication the U.S. and North Korea, they've agreed to sit down to this summit, (INAUDIBLE) goes off (sane)ph. How long reporting over the last 24 hours about this, is that the demand for the U.S. troops to actually withdraw from the peninsula is more propaganda then (substantial)ph.
In fact, in private North Korean officials tell a very different story. So, if that is true, this concession doesn't really come as much of a surprise does it?
CARROLL: No it doesn't, in fact, the phrasing that you read there's so many caveat's and qualifiers there that you can drive a truck through. A willingness to discuss or a willingness to consider dropping the demands is just that, willingness. It all is going to come down to the North, South summit meeting next week and what actually get's discussed and what the perimeters of those conversations are. And that then will set the stage for when President Trump meets with
Kim Jong-un later down the road sometime, either in May or June. And so, it is important to pay attention to the new (ances)ph of the language. However, I will say this, it is encouraging, I mean, President Moon of South Korea is after all more of a sunshine type of President for the South. He wants to engage and open up more with the North.
So, he's going to be inclined to see things more optimistically. That's not necessarily a bad thing but we all have to go into this with a little bit of skepticism and the devil will be in the details. And until we're in the same room at the same time, it's only so much speculation.
VAUSE: That's the point about President Moon, is that he essentially you say he has an optimistic point of view, could you say he's also spinning this to his own advantage?
CARROLL: Well, I'm not sure whether there's political, sort of, points to be scored or not. Because if he set's expectations to high or he comes out saying, hey they're dropping this concession or they're not going to demand that this obligation be met. And then it falls apart, he's going to have a quite a bit of egg on his face.
On the other hand, he is looking to grease the skids so to speak, if he can entice the President - President Trump and the U.S. interlocketers, with some optimism or some encouragement, that hey, Kim Jong-un may be willing to deal, in fact, he's even indicated this and he's said that. That could grease the skids for a more successful meeting with President Trump.
VAUSE: It does seem though, watching a very, sort of, softer, kinder, North Korea, in some ways. Is this real change? Or is this the country which is basically being crushed by sanctions will soon fun out of foreign currency reserves and will say and do anything for financial relief.
CARROLL: Well this question is excellent, it's been on my mind quite a bit in these past few days. I wish I had a good solid answer for you, but a couple of things come to mind. We still don't know exactly what came of this sereticious meeting between Kim Jong-un and President Xi of China, they met several weeks ago, Kim Jong-un took a train to Beijing.
What came of that? What was the message said or received from either leader, it's very unclear whether China offered something to North Korea and said hey, if you do this right, it's all going to be fine. We don't know if Kim Jong-un came with his own leverage. So that's something that is, I think, a huge X-factor in all of this. Now, whether Kim Jong-un himself or whether the regime in North Korea is kinder and gentler, way to soon to say.
They have no launched missiles in months, they have not conducted another nuclear test, they have not done anything out of their, sort of, bag of tricks in the past, like sinking a South Korean vessel. Whether that will stick, I think these next couple of summit meetings, that's the real witness test of whether this will be lasting, enduring change and frankly a process to get to that change.
VAUSE: Yes, it is a long road to go. Very quickly here to finish up, we have this reporting from Axcious that President Trump believes this could be his great moment in history. Sources close to him say he genuinely believes he and he alone, can overcome these seemingly, infactible disaster on the Korean peninsula.
A source who has discussed North Korea with Trump, he thinks just get me in the room with the guy, Kim Jong-un, and I'll figure it out. Is this the type of negotiation with someone you can just wing it? Go in there, slap something of the table, get a deal, pick up the Nobel Peace Prize on the way home?
CARROLL: Well, no it's not, and I have to be completely honest and put my own personal opinions aside. You know, a family member of mine has always said that its important that you don't care who gets the credit, you just get the job done. So, if we could all put aside whatever opinions or feelings we might have about the current President.
Getting something done that's positive, that reduces the risk of North Korea and puts us on a path toward a more stable and maybe even peaceful relationship is a good thing. If he can do it, and his team in place can help him get there, fantastic. Can he wing it? Absolutely not, that's why CIA director, Pompeo's visit was so important.
VAUSE: Paul, thank you so much, as always. Great to have you with us.
CARROLL: Thank you.
VAUSE: Join me now CNN political commentators, democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and republican consultant John Thomas. OK, so we've heard that - we just had that reporting there from Axcious about the President. Apparently this is his moment, Dave when he was first elected Donald Trump thought he'd actually might bring peace to the Middle East, but that's just really hard.
So he's given up on that apparently and now it's all about solving the North Korea problem. But here's the thing, when Jimmy Carter negotiated a peace deal between Egypt and Israel, Jimmy Carter was deeply invested and knew the people of the region, he knew the history, he knew the facts, and you know he was committed to that.
He knew everything about it, when Bill Clinton negotiated a peace treaty between the Israelians and Judeans, it was the same thing. You know, these are people who know history and know the region, you know they didn't go there and wing it.
DAVE JACOBSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right, absolutely, I mean the stakes couldn't be higher because President Trump has presented himself as this ultimate deal maker, that only get can get a deal done. Doesn't have a real sitting Secretary of State, Pompeo was still going through Senate confirmation. He doesn't have an ambassador... VAUSE: He may not even be confirmed, Pompeo.
JACOBSON: Precisely, and so the stakes couldn't be higher for the President. And that's his own fault, he set up this expectations game that only he can deliver. So, if he goes and he has this meeting, he elevates the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un because sit with the sitting U.S. President, and he fails to get anything done, that is going to be a massive body blow to his foreign policy agenda and its going to reflect a very weak President Donald Trump, both domestically and abroad.
And the other issue is, if he is going in with a deal, we don't know what he's willing to give up John. Like, is he willing to pull U.S. troops off of the demilitarized zone? Is he willing to perhaps modify our alliance with South Korea or Japan? Like what is he willing to give up? Honestly I don't think that Kim Jong-un is going to cut a deal with just, he makes concessions and we don't, right? So at the end of the day, the question is, what is the deal look like? And no one knows because there's no experts involved in this.
VAUSE: Yes, the table has not been laid before we get to the meal. So, John, the motivation (INAUDIBLE), is it important here? Because there is a feeling that Donald Trump is doing this for the headline rather than for the result.
JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I think every politician would do this for the head line.
VAUSE: Well John Kerry is certainly in the need to be top (INAUDIBLE)
THOMAS: I mean, they're politicians so that's - there's always a PR benefit to this.
VAUSE: Seems a little more lopsided a bit.
THOMAS: But also President Trump understands the rhetoric and the situation was so ethical with North Korea that the fact that he was even - like...
VAUSE: He was the one that (INAUDIBLE)...
THOMAS: Well, but the risk and the threat from the region was escalating much - way before Trump ever took office. But you're saying that Trumps unprepared, while he's not a foreign policy long time expert, you look at the team that he's assembling from John Bolton, these are people that know their stuff.
JACOBSON: They're also warmongers.
THOMAS: Well, but they're not people that get bossed around, they're not people that get taken advantage of by Kim Jong-un.
VAUSE: When a guy with a nickname, "Mad Dog", is some modern (INAUDIBLE), you've got something to worry about, don't you?
THOMAS: No, or you come in with a real position of leverage and strength, and negotiation because Trump looks like the modern compared to all the people standing behind him.
VAUSE: Maybe John Bolton, absolutely.
THOMAS: So, I think, the President actually is coming this as the right perspective, which is thinking big picture, like a CEO, and then that's why it's important we get Pompeo confirmed. And the fact that democrats are blocking this confirmation is weakening the U.S.'s ability to perhaps strike a good deal with North Korea.
VAUSE: Nice positioning.
JACOBSON: Pompeo went over and met with Kim Jong-un over Easter.
JACOBSON: So clearly it's not an impediment right?
THOMAS: No it is, because he's not in his official position.
VAUSE: OK. You know we mentioned Mid-East peace that was something (Alice Fitzgerald)ph Kushner was meant to get done but didn't. This is the Presidents son-in-law and advisor. (Brandon Fuhrer)ph at the New Yorker, has an interesting point about the demise and departure of Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, apparently he believes it was Kushner who was stoking the rumors about his demise and bringing it about soon rather than later.
Here's part of his report, "When I mentioned the White House, as well, in the escalating rumors of his demise, Tillerson appeared to be waiting for the question. Tillerson leaned in and for a moment I realized that it must be unpleasant to be fired by him, I know who it is, I know who it is, and they know I know." Dave every White House has back stabbing and office politics and ego clashes, regardless if they are republican or democrat, the Trump administration though seems to be in a league of its own.
JACOBSON: It's unprecedented, and I think the dysfunction is unhealthy. I mean, you have a President who has empowered somebody with no foreign policy skills to broker a peace deal in the Middle East with Jared Kushner. And then you have, not that I'm a fan of his, I'm not a big oil person, but you know, when Exxon Mobile, CEO, who has made big global deals all across the world.
Has relationships with world leaders, undercut but a young man who has never done any reactions with those, he has no idea what he's doing. And time, and time again, Jared Kushner was reported, you know, went out into the Middle East, didn't even notify the State's Department, Rex Tiller. So, I mean we have these stories leak out over the last year and a half and it undercut the Secretary of State and diminished that office tremendously.
I've never been a fan of (nefacissim)ph, I don't think its healthy for any administration, whether it's the Kennedy's or what not. The (Javanica)ph grip on the White House has been nothing but, I think, a conflict of interest. And causing these spats and then you add in other people like Steve Bannon, it's a recipe for disaster. VAUSE: And it still isn't sorted out, I mean what, we're a year and
half in almost. OK, this brings us to the five FBI director James Comey. The amount adjusters handed over 15 pages of Comey's memo's to Congress. For the most part they confirmed what has all ready been reported. Here's what he wrote about the conversation he had with the President about foreign national security advisor, Michael Flynn.
"If you ever turn to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying that Flynn is a good guy and he's been through a lot. He mislead the Vice President but he didn't do anything wrong in the call. He said I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go, he is a good guy, I hope you can let this go.
I replied by saying I agree he is a good guy, but said no more." You know Dave it is notable when you go through these memos or these pages and the republicans have pointed this out.
Comey makes no note that he's being threatened by the President, that he feels like he's being obstructed by the President, does that actually matter?
JACOBSON: I'm not an attorney but I don't think it does, and to me that sounds like - we'll see what Bob Mueller ultimately comes up with. Clearly, he was able to put the squeeze on Michael Flynn and get him to flip. But to me that looks like obstruction of justice. I mean, it looks like he's trying to impact in some way an ongoing investigation. And that's not something the President of the United States should do.
VAUSE: OK, so we'll get to you in a second John, because here's another highlight from those memos. "The President said the hooker thing, is non sense, but (Putin)ph had told him, we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world. The conversation which was pleasant at all times was chaotic, the topics touched left and then returned to later, making it very difficult to recount in a linear fashion.
Earlier, Comey was interviewed by Jake Tapper on CNN, they talked about Trump and the possibility that he had been compromised by the Russians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: There's a reason I say it's possible, two things struck me. One, the President's constantly bringing it up with me to deny it. And in my experience as an investigator, it's not an iron clad rule but it's a striking thing when someone constantly brings up something to deny that you didn't ask about. And second, I've always been struck in my cares with him, that he wouldn't criticize Vladimir Putin even in private, which struck me as odd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: What do you think of it? THOMAS: I look at a disgruntled employee trying to sell books. But I think in that - in the memo's that were leaked there's also an important lines relates to the - kind of the Russians having the goods on him. That they both share similar stories about, Donald Trump says repeatedly the year 2013, which sounds like it was a trip he had to Russia. And then Trump said, 'you think I could have been (surrailed)'ph and Comey basically says 'its very possible', and Trumps says, 'yeah I always assume my rooms were wired, whenever I travel.' Is the guy who makes the assumption that he's under surveillance is he taking golden showers so gifts from Vladimir Putin? And the idea of saying that Russian hookers are beautiful, yeah Putin probably did say that because his wife is Eastern European, right? He has a flavor, I didn't say she (INAUDIBLE). But he likes Eastern European women, I mean it's clear.
VAUSE: Probably leave it there. OK, let's move on. Very last...
VAUSE: Sorry (for the question)ph President Vladimir Putin. OK, as the President is contemplating on going down in history as the greatest peace maker of all time by solving North Korea's crisis, at the same time he's furious about the legal trouble facing his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President could Michael Cohen slip? Are you worried he's not loyal?
TRUMP: Thank you everybody, I hope you saw the crowd center in Key West. I've never seen anything like that, it was very inspirational.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The crowds were huge, OK, privately those close to the President are apparently worried that Cohen will in fact flip. When anybody faces spending a long time in jail, they start to reevaluate their priorities and corporation can't be ruled out. One Trump ally who knows Cohen told politico. Dave, what's interesting about this conversation about Cohen and Donald Trump, no one is arguing if they've done anything wrong or if they're innocent or if they're guilty. It's all about will he, or will he flip, it's all about will Cohen...
JACOBSON: Spill the goods.
JACOBSON: Yes, part of that is because like, he hasn't really been an attorney, he's been known as the fixer. He solves problems, and the question is how loyal is he to President Trump? We saw that the President pardons Scooter Libby the other day potentially sending a smoke signal to Michael Cohen, hey, if you play this game I'll take care of you, don't worry about it. I guess the larger issue, and again I'm not an attorney, or somebody with a law enforcement background, but what is the potential sentence. Is it two years, is it four years, or is it a lifetime, is it 20 plus years? Because I think that is going to...
THOMAS: Sounds like 20 plus.
JACOBSON: And that's kind of a massive impact, I think, on his calculations. Like, whether or not I'm willing to flip. We've seen Michael Flynn flip, we've seen a number of others, Rick Gates...
VAUSE: 25 (INAUDIBLE)
JACOBSON: Right, right, so I think it's plausible that Cohen does flip if the FBI does have the goods on him, the question is what did they find?
VAUSE: But, you know, they diagnose it, they've got to have something otherwise they wouldn't have brought the warrants to search his office, home, and his apartment.
THOMAS: I think this is just Trump being a disciplined politician going, why am I going to speak about something, it just inflames the situation; let's see how it plays out. I guarantee you that the President is focusing on this issue behind close doors.
VAUSE: Talking to Cohen.
VAUSE: I'm sure he is, he apparently called him on the Friday, when the raid happened which was probably one of the silliest things to do.
JACOBSON: And they had like dinner a week ago.
THOMAS: Right, we'll see how the Cohen thing evolves. I mean, I think the idea of the pardon is interesting but...
VAUSE: But most people do learn to focus on North Korea when you know that the guy who knows everything, he got where all the bodies are buried. Could be about to talk to the prosecutors.
THOMAS: I'm sure, I mean I'm sure it is. I've read stories about how, you know, Nixon when he was facing his challenges and Clinton when he was facing his challenges, that's all you can focus on. It makes it very difficult to get anything else done.
VAUSE: Yes, Yes. Dave and John, thank you. Well still ahead, India's prime minister speaks out after days of outrage, what he's feared about the recent thing called grapes, laying in his country. Also, it has been nearly two years since the recording artist Prince died from a drug overdose, and now, a decision on criminal charges in the case.
VAUSE: Rising man hill melting pressure from home and abroad, India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is addressing the string of brutal rape cases across his country. Saying the issue is not political and India should expect more from its sons. CNN's New Delhi Bureau Chief, Nikhil Kumar reports.
NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: "A rape is a rape. How can we tolerate this torture with our daughters?" Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi words Wednesday while on a trip to London. This was after days of public outrage over his government response to recent violence and sexual attacks on minors.
One of the victims was a defenseless 8-year-old girl, the child belonged to a community of Muslim nomads in Northern Genoa and (Kamustay)ph. Authorities say she was abducted, brutally raped, and murdered in January. Eight Hindu's are accused of the crime, but when authorities tried to move ahead with the investigation this month, they faced opposition. That's right, opposition.
From hard lying Hindu's who came to the defense of the accused only because of their religion. There was shock across India, as two issues came together, the continuing concern in this country over sexual violence and the worry about the rising influence of right wing Hindu hardliners. How, may Indians ask, could anyone try to block an investigation into such a horrific crime?
Many were angry at Modi, his (party)ph, jumped the party is the political face of the Hindu right. And two senior party members were reported to a rally in support of the accused. Both have now stepped down from their position in the state government. In another case, in Northern (INAUDILE), a law marker from Modi's party is accused of raping a 16-year-old.
The attack is alleged to have taken place last summer, but he was only arrested last week as protest mounted. Now, Modi briefly addressed the outrage last week, before saying during his London trip, that the issue should not be politicized. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARENDRA MODI, PRIME MINSTER OF INDIA: When a small girl is sexually assaulted it is painful for all of us. But can we compare the number of rates in different governments? We can't say there were this many rates in our government and that many in yours. There can not be a worse way to deal with this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KUMAR: But the calls for the authorities to act are only growing. And not just here, speaking in Washington Thursday, Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary fund, expressed her outrage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE LAGARDE, HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: What has happened is just revolting and I would hope that the Indian authorities, starting with Prime Minister Modi, pay more attention because it is needed for the women of India.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KUMAR: Thousands of Indians who have risen in protests in recent days feel the same way. Nikhil Kumar, CNN New Delhi.
VAUSE: Well, there will no criminal charges in the case of Prince's fatal drug overdose. The recording artist who had an opioid addiction, died nearly two years ago. Authorities have just released the full investigation into his death, including these images from inside his home at Paisley Park.
They say Prince took counterfeit vicodin pills laced with fentanyl but there was no evidence showing how he got them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK METZ, CARVER COUNTY ATTRONEY: The fact the criminal charges are not brought, certainly does not mean that some person or persons associated with Prince, did not assist or enable Prince in obtaining the counterfeit vicodin. After all Prince somehow did come into possession of the pills and the pills had to come from some source.
There is no doubt that the actions of individuals around Prince will be criticized, questioned and judged, in the days and weeks to come. But suspensions and innuendo are categorically insufficient to support any criminal charges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: A doctor who treated Prince agreed to pay $30,000 to settle the allegation, he prescribed drugs to a friend of Prince but knew the recording artist would actually take that medication. Well, the two African-American men who were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks are speaking out for the first time.
Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson arrived early to the coffee shop for a business meeting, when they asked to use the restroom, but were told it was for paying customers only. Within minutes the manager called police and they were arrested for trespassing. That led to protests, the police commissioner there apologized and the two men now say they hope this will lead to some real change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONTE ROBINSON: So what I want is for a young man or young men, to not be traumatized by this and instead motivated, inspired. I hope people understand that it's not just a black people thing. This is a people thing and that's exactly what we want to see out of this, and that's true change. So, put action in the police and stop using your words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The CEO of Starbucks has also apologized. The coming plans to close its 8,000 U.S. stores on May 29th, for racial bias training. Well soon to come here, it could be the start of a beautiful friendship in American movie theater company teaming up with Saudi Arabia to open a new cinema, brand spanking new cinema, this is the moment when social reform meets economics.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Well if you're just joining us, you're watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angelo's. I'm John Vause. We will check the headlines this hour. The President of South Korea say's North Korea is not demanding the U.S. Military leave the Korean Peninsula as condition to denuclearization. The apparent concession comes ahead of a possible summit between North Korea and the United States. North and South Korea will hold their own historic summit next week.
Former FBI Director James Comey's memos on his conversations with Donald Trump are now out. And there pretty consistent with what he told congress last year. Comey say's Mr. Trump asked him for his loyalty and then dropped the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. In Berlin Germany the disposal of an unexploded World War II bomb will disrupt part of the city on Friday. As (they)ph try to diffuse the 500 kilo graphic explosive. The bomb was discovered during construction work near the city's central train station. An 800 meter area near the site will be evacuated in the coming hours just as a precaution.
VAUSE: All the way back there to 1964 and "The Drifters" pulling from music what was and still is a shared ritual in so many places around the world. Whether you're catching a movie in the U.S., going to the pictures in Britain, seeing a flick in Australia, going to the movies is one of those rare common cultural moments a milestone of independence. And a universal first date. And perennial favorite for date night, and now for the first time in 35 years it will soon be Saturday night at movies in Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this week an official ban on movie theaters was lifted with the opening of a new single screen cinema in Riyadh. About 500 VIP's were invited to a screening of "Black Panther". A movie with a plot line about a new Prince who inherited a Kingdom, struggles to hold onto power. And then ultimately leads his people in a new direction. Hmmm, joining me now from Riyadh is John Sfakianakis. I hope I got that right. He's the Director of Economic Research at the Gulf Research Center.
John thanks for being with us. If the Saudi Crown Prince was looking to send a message, not just to his people but to the rest of the world, that reform and modernization are both on the agenda. It seems this was pretty much it.
JOHN SFAKIANAKIS, DIRECTOR OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH AT GULF RESEARCH CENTER: Absolutely John. This is the time of change. It's really happening, this is a new Saudi Arabia and a lot of people are extremely happy with just the things that are taking place in this wonderful kingdom. The cinema issue is just the beginning. The young people of Saudi Arabia which comprise 70 percent of the population are very jubilant. With cinema, the driving part for women just the whole change of mindset. Finally it's coming to Saudi Arabia, as you said.
VAUSE: Explain why the ban was put in place, what 35 years ago? What was the reason for that?
SFAKIANAKIS: Well back then remember Saudi Arabia was facing an Islamist wave after the Iranian revolution, and also the events in Mecca, while in events in Mecca. And so Saudi Arabia had to adopt a more stringent Islam that we saw happing over there decades. Now there is this new wave. There is a new change and as Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said quite clearly there will be a more moderate Islam. People have embraced that. And finally Saudi Arabia is capturing this youth wave. And the youth bulge that is very much a positive for the country and its economics.
VAUSE: Alongside the symbolism of it all, the modernization, the liberalization of Saudi Arabia. There is also it seems the very simple recognition of reality here when it comes to technology. I guess 35 years ago you could ban a movie theatre. But these day's you can't stop people from streaming content on their iPhone, or downloading a movie over the internet. So if - I guess if people are going to do it you may as well regulate it. And cash in on it.
SFAKIANAKIS: Absolutely. Just the economics is stunning. It's a country that didn't have cinemas for 35 years. So you can imagine a country of 31 million people. A lot of young people will be participating in the entertainment industry. And over the next 10 years more than $65 billion is going to be invested, so a lot of potential for the private sector, and for people to be involved in this. So more than 300,000 jobs are going to be created over the next 10 years, so this is a fantastic news for everybody. And as you said technology you can not avoid it. Everybody looks at their phones. And participates in this globalization, so better to embrace it then deny it.
VAUSE: You know we just said that song from "The Drifters" about grabbing my girl for Saturday night at the movies, hugging in the balconies. Saudi Arabia has some pretty strict social rules I guess. So will there be hugging in the balconies at these cinemas? Or will they be segregated?
SFAKIANAKIS: No absolutely not. There not going to be segregated. As we've seen already the showing on Wednesday, this was not a segregated event. And I think that this is defiantly what Saudi Arabia needs. I think everybody's going to be involved. And segregation is going to be something of the past John.
VAUSE: Well John, enjoy the movies. Go off and catch "Black Panther". I saw it the day. It's actually pretty good. Roll a couple (inaudible) down the isle for me. We used to do that growing up in Brisbane in Australia. Enjoy, coming up here next on Newsroom LA a nation wide protest against gun violence. Beginning where more than a dozen people were killed at a school shooting 19 years ago. (inaudible).
VAUSE: Students from 100s of schools across the U.S. are planning to walk out of class on Friday and observe a moment of silence for shooting victims. Their demanding law makers do more to protect them. The National School Walkout coincides with the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, which saw 13 people massacred 19 years ago. And that's where a rally took place just a short time ago. The participants include shooting survivors from Columbine, from Parkland Florida, and from the Aurora movie theatre as well. Scott McLean joins us now live from the scene. And Scott I guess it's incredible to think that these school shootings started two decades ago. And they just keep happening.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes and so it is understandable why students then, John, from more than 2,500 schools across the country will walk out of their classrooms tomorrow to once again call for tougher gun controls. It has now been more than two months since the shooting in Parkland Florida that killed 17 people and really started a movement.
Tomorrow as you mention will also mark 19 years since the school shooting here at Columbine High School, and tonight 60 students from Parkland where here to mark the occasion.
What's interesting is that these Parkland students, they weren't even alive when the Columbine shooting happened. In fact many of them had never even heard of Columbine. Of course it shocked the country when it happened 19 years ago but it's shocking these students even now to learn about it.
Their shocked to hear that 19 years later these school shootings continue to happen. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARIAN WILLIAMS: It made me kind of mad because it showed that nothing has really changed. And that the fact that we have to go through it even though the same - almost same exact thing happened to them 19 years ago. There's a problem with everything that's going on. And people wonder who refused to fix that.
CARLOS RODRIGUEZ: I'm 17 years old, I was not alive during Columbine. But today I have met students and teachers from Columbines that heard the gun shots, they heard the screams, they lost their friends. And their voices should have been heard - their voices should have been heard 19 years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCCLEAN: Now as you can imagine it has been a pretty tough two months for these students at Parkland. One of them told me that one moment he'll be fine, the next he'll be crying in class. Another student said that she came here to Littleton, Colorado in part to ask Columbine survivors a question. When will things get better? The answer that she heard is they will get better but maybe not right away John.
VAUSE: OK, Scott. Students from Columbine, will they be walking out of class tomorrow?
MCCLEAN: They actually won't be believe it or not but it's not for lack of support for the message that these walk outs are trying to send it's because Columbine students actually don't have classes tomorrow. Every year on April 20th, instead Columbine students are asked to go out and do community service. You can also imagine just how much attention this school gets every year on the anniversary of Columbine.
And believe it or not, it is not all positive nor is it all sympathetic. In fact the former principal of Columbine High School was principal at the time of the shooting in 1999, Frank DeAngelis said that there are people out there that actually glorify the Columbine shooters. And some of them end up here in Littleton to see the high school for themselves.
VAUSE: Yes, I remember covering that school shooting. My first school shooting I covered in the U.S. Scott thanks very much. Good day be with us(ph). Thank you for watching CNN News Room, live from Los Angles, I'm John Vause. World Sports starts right now.
VAUSE: You're watching CNN News Room live from Los Angles.