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U.S. Sanctions Hit Iran's Economy; Nicolas Maduro No-Show to Supporters; U.S.-led Military Admits Civilians Killed in Raqqa. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 7, 2018 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: U.S. sanctions take effect against Iran and Tehran looks at a new chance in its tense relations with Washington.

Plus, in the fight to reclaim Raqqa from ISIS a U.S.-led coalition airstrikes leveled the city and the coalition has now admitted innocent civilians were killed.

And the renowned human rights activist and photographer arrested in Bangladesh as the government cracks down on coverage of the protests in the streets of Dhaka.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN Newsroom.

Iran's president is warning America will regret re-imposing sanctions on his country. U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May. The first round of renewed punitive measures are now in effect, and they cover the purchase of U.S. dollars and trade in gold, metals and automobiles.

In November, more damaging sanctions against oil exports go into effect. And the move puts Washington at odds with the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China. Hassan Rouhani says china and Russia have indicated they won't abide by the measures.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): If someone is willing to use a knife against an opponent, stabs that opponent while simultaneously saying that we wish to establish a dialogue and converse with one another, the first requirement is for them to extract the knife from the body of that opponent before establishing dialogue.

So I think the aim here is to sow doubt within the mind of the Iranian nation as well as use that to their advantage somehow in the upcoming midterm congressional elections. It's a psychological warfare against the people of Iran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: The European Union Frederica Mogherini reacted to the sanctions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FEDERICA MOGHERINI, HIGH REPRESENTATIVE, EUROPEAN UNION FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: We are working within the European Union and with other players in the world. Among them New Zealand, but also Asian partners, to protect investments and to keep channels open, especially when it comes to the trade of bouillon and petro chemicals. But also, when it comes to banking channels and financial channels.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And for more on this, the New York Times correspondent, Thomas Erdbrink joins us on the phone from Tehran. Thanks so much for being with us. So, we want to ask you, what do you think the impact will likely be of these sanctions on Iran's economy?

THOMAS ERDBRINK, CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, we've already been seeing the impact of the threat of sanctions in the past month. The Iranian currency the Real has devaluated. If you take it in a European basis, it has lost -- it has lost over 80 percent of its value. This has been a shock to many Iranians and subsequently a lot of prices have gone up here.

Literally a lot of Iranians are fearing unemployment because of these sanctions. They targeted auto industry, for instance, which is a very big employer in this country. People generally fear that it will lead to more isolation and more problems for Iranian economy.

At the same time, people also blame their own leaders for some of the problems in the economy. They point at the big corruption cases that we've seen here and also in many instances of mismanagement of the economy, something that President Rouhani partly admitted last night and he was speaking to the Iranian nation, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So how likely is it, do you think, that these restored sanctions will eventually force Iran back to the negotiating table?

ERDBRINK: Well, if you look at the previous round of sanctions between 2008, roughly, and 2013, then you can see that they did help in bringing Iran to negotiating table.

Of course, that's something that Iranian's leaders feel differently. They said that they by their own choice went to debate and eventually came up with a compromise that we now usually refer to as the nuclear deal.

President Rouhani last night didn't rule out direct talks with Donald Trump. He said that if the U.S. takes some certain steps, shows more sincerity, then Iran might consider talking directly to America.

And, of course, in September both leaders are likely to run into each other at the -- at the annual meeting of the United Nations that will take place that month. So that could be a venue where these two leaders might possibly meet or talk. [03:04:58] CHURCH: All right. We will be watching and seeing what

happens, of course, what the outcome is of these sanctions being re- imposed. Thomas Erdbrink, many thanks to you.

So, let's get more on this with Geneive Abdo, she is a resident scholar with the Arabia Foundation and author of the book "Mecca and Main Street." great to have you with us.

GENEIVE ABDO, RESIDENT SCHOLAR, ARABIA FOUNDATION: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, President Trump said he was open to talks with Iran's leadership. Tehran rejected his offer initially, but now Iran's president said he will talk to Mr. Trump right now. What changed his mind? The pressure of restored sanctions or something else?

ABDO: Well, if you look at his speech closely, which he gave several hours ago today, he didn't necessarily say he would talk to the U.S. He said that, I think as he put it, once the knife is removed I will speak to the U.S.

The knife, meaning the sanctions. So he's not -- I think based on what he said today, he is not willing to talk under the current conditions. He wants the sanctions first to be lifted.

CHURCH: Yes, and of course we know that the United States won't do that.

ABDO: Right.

CHURCH: President Rouhani said Iran has always welcomed dialogue and negotiations. Is that the case?

ABDO: Well, they've welcomed dialogue and negotiations somewhat on their terms. And that the from the view of the Trump administration, which is at the time the nuclear agreement which is the focus of this whole conversation, at the time that it was negotiated and then signed in 2015, there was somewhat of a different kind of debate in Washington that exists today.

At the time the Obama administration believed that by negotiating with Iran, this would make Iran more compliant on other issues, not just their nuclear program. The other issues being their militarization in the Arab world. So their military activity in Iraq and Syria, in Lebanon, through Hezbollah, and then of course in Yemen.

But since that time, what we have seen actually is an increase in military activity, an increase, tremendous increase in spending on Iran's proxy.

So, what the Obama administration had hoped would happen, which is that Iran would put -- would curtail its nuclear program and then the United States would then be able to negotiate on other issues, really hasn't happened.

So that's why there is this very fierce effort by the Trump administration to hold Iran accountable on its military activity in the Middle East, and this is really what's driving the withdrawal from the nuclear agreement because from the Trump administration perspective, they don't really see any progress.

CHURCH: Right. And President Trump's national security advisor John Bolton is calling Iran's response here propaganda. Is that what it is?

ABDO: I think so, frankly. I actually was a correspondent for The Guardian in Iran for a number of years, so I know the country well. And I think that they do play with words, and so we're seeing a lot of rhetoric on both sides.

I don't know -- you could ask the question of the Trump administration, were they really sincere about their invitation to talk there to be Iranians. We don't know.

But I do think that today's speech by President Rouhani and many statements that have been made by Revolutionary Guard commanders, by the supreme leader himself since May 12 when President Trump withdrew from the Iran agreement, the nuclear agreement, have not been all at truthful.

CHURCH: Yes, and on that point, President Rouhani, he emphasized the fact that Mr. Trump has backed out of previous dialogue with Tehran and has withdrawn from international agreements. Is that the U.S. president's Achilles heel?

ABDO: Well, you know, I have to say that it doesn't lend much credibility to the U.S. government. The U.S. government signed a nuclear agreement with E.U. member states, with Iran that they then later reneged upon.

So from his -- that -- on that very point, yes, you could say -- make a very legitimate argument that the United States has not kept its promise.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, there has been no evidence so far to date from the atomic energy agency, for example, from the U.N., that Iran violated the agreement. So, if you look at it strictly in those terms Iranians -- the Iranian government has a point.

[03:10:00] But if you look at it in the broader context of what was negotiated and the details of the agreement, I think that's where we get into much more sophisticated arguments and questions about why this deal was even signed to begin with.

CHURCH: Right. Geneive Abdo, thank you so much for joining us.

ABDO: Thank you.

CHURCH: And sharing your analysis with us. We appreciate it.

ABDO: Thank you, Rosemary. Thank you.

CHURCH: A scene of utter devastation in much of central Indonesia right now, entire villages are in ruins following Sunday's powerful earthquake. Falling buildings killed most of the 98 people who died. Hundreds are

injured. And some 20,000 people have no homes left. Rescue teams have been sifting through the mounds of rubble looking for survivors.

And just a short time ago, they pulled a woman out alive from a store that had tumbled to the ground during that quake, and she was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We didn't really know that there were locals coming to us looking for help in the recovery efforts. They thought they smelled dead bodies. But when we opened up an access point, it turns out the smell came from rotten eggs. Then we heard a voice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Well, CNN Indonesia correspondent Yudi Yudawan joins us now from northern Lombok in Indonesia. Yudi, it is great to hear that story of a woman being found alive under the rubble. Talk to us about how many more people may be buried under that rubble and the hopes that are still there that they may be found.

YUDI YUDAWAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, now I'm reporting from a local hospital in north Lombok. As you can see behind me, hundreds of victims are being injured because of the damage of the building after the shock of -- struck of the earthquake happening in Sunday afternoon.

Most of them having a problem with fractured bone and need help emergency. It need help. And quickly to (Inaudible) a person actually about two hours from the city because of, as we know, the condition of the building is not really safety anymore for all the patients who will get the treatment under the building.

Only one of the roofs is available for a patient. But the authorities say it's not really proper any more. It's not safety anymore for those patients who can be treated under the building.

Most of them need special requirement and need special equipment like ambulance, medical treatment and also another medicine who can help them, especially for the fractured bones condition happened in this area. Most of them trapped under the building when the earthquake happened in this last Sunday afternoon, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yudi, how many people do authorities believe are still stuck under the rubble? Do you know? And what efforts are underway right now to find more? We just reported on a woman being found, which is great news, and offers hope for people.

YUDAWAN: Yes, by this morning our team and I doing evacuating and following all the rescue team, going places, especially in remote areas. We found that one of the most being damage because of the earthquake, a dozen of people are still struck -- are still trapped under the building and the police department also, the rescue team still find and still try to rescue a few of them who probably still trapped under the damage of the ruin of the building itself.

But until now 3 p.m. Indonesian time, the government and also the rescue team couldn't find. More than three victim being found since yesterday and probably there's more others of victims still trapped under the ruin of building after the shock of the hit damage of the earthquake happened in the Sunday afternoon. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, we all hope that more people will be found alive under that rubble. Yudi Yudawan, thank you so much for your report from Lombok. I appreciate it.

We'll take a short break. But still to come, the U.S.-led military coalition makes a U-turn on the Raqqa offensive. In a new report, why Amnesty International says its findings are just the tip of the iceberg.

Plus, after an alleged assassination attempt, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro was a no-show at a rally of supporters. But he's not letting go of a conspiracy theory involving Colombia.

And devastating wildfires in California keep getting worse. Now the state is facing the largest wildfire in history.

[03:15:00] We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

Well, are now to a stunning admission from the U.S.-led military coalition that fought in Syria. A little less than two months after slamming a report from Amnesty International, the coalition now admits airstrikes killed 77 people in Raqqa, Syria last year.

The offensive to drive ISIS from their self-proclaimed capital began over a year ago. Amnesty International says airstrikes like this one killed and injured thousands and probably breached international humanitarian law.

The rights group also blames the coalition's repeated use of explosives for leveling the city of Raqqa. The coalition says it investigated and released its own report, saying this, in part.

"The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred."

In a statement, Amnesty International said this admission was just the tip of the iceberg and their research indicates a much higher death toll.

Donatella Rovera joins me now from London. She is the senior crises adviser for Amnesty International. Good to have you with us.

DONATELLA ROVERA, SENIOR ADVISER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Good morning. CHURCH: So how likely is it that the U.S.-led coalition would have

admitted inadvertently killing dozens of civilians in its Raqqa offensive if Amnesty International had not pursued its own investigation? And do describe to us the evidence that your research uncovered.

ROVERA: I spent two weeks in Raqqa with a colleague interviewing survivors and witnesses and carrying out site visits looking at the specific locations that had been bombed by the coalition, looking for remnants of munitions and any other pertinent information.

It is possible to do that kind of work. We at Amnesty International did it on the ground in Raqqa and so should the coalition.

[03:19:59] However, until today, the coalition has not done any field investigation on the grounds in Raqqa. It has not interviewed survivors and witnesses.

And it is fair to say that had Amnesty International not carried out this investigation, the coalition would not have admitted to these particular civilian casualties, these 77 civilians killed and many more injured.

Now, this is really only the tip of the iceberg. Up to then, the coalition had only admitted to 23 civilian casualties. We know from everybody we've spoken to on the ground in Raqqa that hundreds and hundreds of civilians were killed in coalition bombardments.

It is imperative that the coalition should do the right thing, which has not been done until now, and cry out a proper investigation so that the survivors and the victims' families can get justice and reparation.

The coalition will always admit to having been responsible for bombardments when organizations like Amnesty International put in the time and resources to do the investigation but we cannot do the coalition's job.

We've been able to investigate a very, very small number of civilian casualties. There are many hundreds more. And ultimately, it is the job of the coalition to do those investigations, to do them properly, and to come clean on how many civilians their bombardments have killed.

CHURCH: Right. Just finally, what, then, if they go ahead and do these investigations -- because they claim they've done their own investigation. But what are you hoping to come out of this? What are you hoping that the victims' families may receive as a result of this? And, of course, this admission?

ROVERA: Well, first of all, just to set the record straight, the coalition has promised to do field site investigations in Raqqa and to interview witnesses and survivors, and by its own admission it has not done so until today. So that must start without delay.

And secondly, the victims, those who have been named, for lives injured, those who lost their loved ones, they deserve justice and reparations. So this is what the coalition must do. Proper investigation and then compensation and reparation to the victims' families and to the survivors.

CHURCH: All right. Donatella Rovera from Amnesty International, thank you so much for joining us.

ROVERA: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, after surviving an alleged assassination attempt, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro skipped a rally of his supporters in Caracas on Monday. It's unclear why he didn't show up for what was supposed to be his first public appearance since Saturday's allege drone attack.

But a few hours ago, Mr. Maduro posted this video on Twitter claiming he has enough proof to link the outgoing Colombian government to the attack.

President Juan Manuel Santos has denied any involvement. More details now from Stefano Pozzebon in Caracas.

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: And there are still many questions unanswered in relation with that alleged assassination attempt against the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

On Monday morning, the attorney general of Venezuela informed the president they have arrested every material as he called of this international terrorist group, and even the person who manufactured the explosive devices that were used in that incident on Saturday morning.

But still, the questions about how could it be possible to fly a drone at such a close tight military event, who had the license, and what -- who were the people behind this after the Maduro government blamed?

Its Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos to be the mastermind of this attack.

Meanwhile, the situation, the economic situation in Caracas here is still very, very serious and goes from bad to worse. People here in Venezuela cue every day for food, water, public transportation have been constantly cut.

And they're not really paying too much attention out of these allegations, or the supposed attempt to assassinate the president because they are too busy trying to get to the end of the day or trying to get to the end of the month.

The situation, the economic situation in Caracas remains very, very serious and this is the thing that is very much in the forefront of every Venezuelan right now.

From -- for CNN, Stefano Pozzebon, Caracas.

[03:25:00] CHURCH: Well, California is now facing the largest wildfire recorded in the state's history. The fire has burned more than 115,000 hectares, an area larger than all of New York City.

It has destroyed more than 11,000 structures, and firefighters have contained 30 percent of the fire.

The 16 large wildfires now ravaging California have become so intense, the U.S. military is now stepping in to help.

So, let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri who joins us now live. So, Pedram, 30 percent contained. How is the weather playing into all of this?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It has not changed for the better for very long at least over the past several weeks. That's been the main concern here. We always say Mother Nature, the weather has the upper hand.

If it's windy, if it's hot and dry enough, the fire will not be contained no matter how much manpower is put on top of these flames. If it' windy enough, it will continue to spread and that unfortunately has been the case. Certainly has been hot enough.

Now you take a look. Coming in now as the number one most destructive fire as far as land consumption in the state of California. Incredibly surpassing the number two now becoming the 2017 fire in December, that was in Ventura County, you recall in Southern California.

That amount of land, that's 1100 square kilometers of land roughly the size of the city of Istanbul. And of course you've seen the city itself situated on Asia, part of it situated across portions of Europe, incredible amount of land, right. That's how much ld has been consumed in a matter of a couple of weeks.

And of course, eight of the hottest years on record have all occurred since 2005. Eight of the 10 most destructive years for the state of California wildfires have all occurred since the mid-2000 as well.

So really kind of find the direct correlation to what's been happening here, and as I said the heat remains put across portions of the western U.S. very little change in the forecast unfortunately.

The trend looks at such here, the three-day forecast, look what happens. It actually goes up, back up to 39 degrees above the average. That is about 37 for this time of year.

So, unfortunately, the weather pattern certainly not going to be helping. We're hoping the firefighters at least continue putting as much power on these flames as possible. Because you notice we're up to 100 large active fires across the western U.S.

And in fact, in Southern California, they have now raised a critical concern there across places from Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Palmdale, up towards Los Angeles for fire weather conditions that are in place.

They are urging everyone to not only stay onto the roads because a lot of these fires much like the Carr Fire were due to a vehicle pulling off to the side of the road. The dry grass there really easily ignited.

And of course, keeping the cigarette butts in the car, everything you can do to help is being urged across places such as southern California because big-time heat has been in place across that region as well.

Quick glance here, Rosemary. We do have a lot going on across portions of the Western Pacific. We're watching what's happening to north. Because you know, it's been a busy season for our friends across Japan.

This system comes in and we know that it's only going to weaken as it approaches land, but Tokyo certainly going to be on alert here towards the heart of this week here with heavy rainfall going into that region. Rosie?

CHURCH: As always, a lot for you to cover there, Pedram. Many thanks.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: All right. Time for a short break now. But when we come back, the prosecution's star witness takes the stand in the full trial of Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Plus, journalists are being targeted in Bangladesh as they cover unprecedented protests over road safety. We will speak with the spokesman from the committee to protect journalists.

We're back in just a moment.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you now on the main stories we're following this hour. A number of U.S. sanctions against Iran went back into effect just a short time ago. They are the result of President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. The sanctions cover the purchase on U.S. dollars and trade and metals and automobiles. More damaging sanctions on Iran's oil export are to take effect in November.

A miraculous rescues in earthquake ravage central Indonesia. Two days after a powerful quake hit the region, rescue workers had pulled a woman alive from the debris of a collapsed store. And rescuers also pulled the man from a rubble of a collapsed mosque. Sunday's quake killed at least 98 people, injured hundreds and destroyed thousands of homes.

Hollywood actress Rosie O'Donnell is urging Americans to get out and vote this November. She and a group of Broadway actors joined a protest outside the White House Monday. O'Donnell no fan of Donald Trump, says people have had enough of the President and will make their voices heard.

Prosecutors will resume their case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in the coming hours. His former business partner, Rick Gates, is on the witness stand pointing the finger squarely at Manafort. CNN's Kara Scannell, reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

KARA SCANNELL, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Rick Gates, the government star witness in the Paul Manafort trial, took the stand in a showdown we've all been waiting for. Gates testified for 45 minutes. And during that time, Manafort stared him down in the witness box just seats away from him. He averted Manafort's stare speaking only to the prosecutors who asked him to explain, what crimes he committed with Manafort.

He said that, he helped him file false tax returns and he also said he helped Manafort set up 15 offshore companies that they used as part of their crime. That each time that Gates was asked about this, he said that he did this at the direction of Mr. Manafort. Gates also entered a surprise twist in which he said that he defrauded Manafort himself, having stolen several hundred thousand dollars from by inflating his expense reports. Gates' testimony is expected to continue on the 6th day of trial. He is going to be questioned by prosecutors for another three hours. Kara Scannell, CNN, Alexandria.

(END VIDEO)

CHURCH: Well, Donald Trump's advisors want him to stop tweeting about his son's 2016 meeting with Russians in an effort to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. A source tells CNN the tweets only give oxygen to the story and could give Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, and even more damaging evidence in his Russia investigation. Over the weekend, Mr. Trump tweeted this. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics and it went nowhere. I did not know about it.

Joining me now is CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, he is also a historian and professor at Princeton University. Thanks so much for being with us.

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN NAD PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Let's start with that Sunday tweet from the U.S. President where he admits the now infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump tower was about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton. He said this specifically. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent totally legal and done all the time in politics and it went nowhere. I did not know about it. So, Julian, Mr. Trump's advisors and lawyers want him to stop tweeting about it. Why do you think he admitted this? And what impact would an admission on this scale likely have on his presidency?

ZELIZER: Well, the admission jeopardizes his son, even though originally he said he wanted to protect his son. And at the same time his talking about it brought the story right back front and center and brought back the fact that since the story was originally reported many, many months ago, his story keeps shifting over and over again. And so his credibility is nil, and I think right now people are wondering once again why did he have that meeting and what were the intentions.

[03:35:12] CHURCH: Indeed. Of course, we know Robert Mueller's team has been negotiating with Mr. Trump's legal team about an interview with the President. And now we hear from his lawyer Rudy Giuliani that they will respond in the coming days. How dangerous is it for the President to agree to an interview either in writing or in person? And does that Sunday tweet pretty much highlight the dangers ahead?

ZELIZER: Yes, I think his counsel are naturally worried about him speaking to Mueller given that Mueller is very good at this and will be very contained, where Trump says many things, contradictory things and things that aren't true. And that could put him in danger, but I some ways the tweet might explain why the lawyers are open to it. Maybe right now they want a more controlled situation because his own advisors really have absolutely no control of what he says on a daily basis.

CHURCH: And, of course, I want to turn to the Manafort trial. Rick Gates, testifying against Paul Manafort, both worked on the Trump campaign, of course. What impact would you expect all of that to have on the Trump presidency going forward?

ZELIZER: Very big. I think this story, even though it seems separate is actually integral. Paul Manafort was the head of Donald Trump's campaign before he was President at a critical moment in the summer of 2016. And if this trial unfolds and Rick Gates' testimony is privileged over Paul Manafort's defense, here we have a top ranking official who is acting in illegal ways and highly corrupt. This will open the door to more inquiry about what he was doing and what his actions have to do with all this Russian interference that very summer.

CHURCH: And, Julian, of course, when you look at all of the troubles facing President Trump, if it were any other Presidents in the past, we would all be saying, my goodness, this man is not going to survive, but Mr. Trump is a different type of President, isn't he? He seems able to move forward despite all of the chaos that surrounds him and all of these problems that he has to cope with. And each time he seems to come out looking pretty clean.

ZELIZER: I think that is true. I think there is so much chaos at some level, people are numb to any particular story and that actually benefits him, but more importantly, he still can count on solid Republican support from Congress. And that is the underlying story. More than him or more than some kind of magic skill he has politically, he has a GOP on Capitol Hill that so far, other than occasionally reprimanding him, has done absolutely nothing to endanger his presidency. And if he can count on that, he feels pretty safe.

CHURCH: Julian Zelizer, always a pleasure to have you on our show. Thank you so much.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul is in Russia for talks with lawmakers and government officials, but he is been evasive about whether he raised the issue of Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Paul did invite members of the Russian parliament to visit Washington. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul in Moscow for talks with top Russian lawmakers and other government officials. Now, he calls this engagement, so he wants to restart a dialogue between Russia and the United States. Of course, that relationship has been in a lot of turmoil since the election of President Trump and the allegations of Russian meddling in that election.

Now, Senator Rand Paul, we asked him about whether or not he'd raise the issue of election meddling with the Russian officials that he was meeting with. He sort of dodged the question. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: Senator, did you speak about election interference as well? Did that come up?

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: We had general discussions about a lot of issues and basically we've decided that right now what we're trying to do is have dialogue. And I don't think we solve issues other than -- our biggest issue right now is no dialogue. It isn't the issues at hand. The issue is we can't have discussion of issues, because we have no dialogue. So we're not going to go into any of the differences other than we're trying to agree to have dialogue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: For his part, Russian lawmakers Konstantin Kosachov, who had chaired the meeting on the Russia side, so that first of all, Russia denies being behind any sort of election meddling in the 2016 election, and also said that Russia would not meddle in the election in 2018. As well, of course, the midterms that are coming up very soon. The Russians are also quite happy about the fact that Rand Paul is here, even though they do say they don't expect any sort of improvement in the relations between the U.S. and Russia any time soon.

[03:40:07] One other things that Rand Paul did do is, he invited Russian lawmakers to come to Washington for talks there. Later he also said, this is according to the (inaudible) news agency, there was a hysteria in America about sanction and that in many ways President Trump's hands were tied in trying to improve relations between the U.S. and Russia. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEO)

CHURCH: Still to come, days of protest for safer roads has brought Bangladesh's capital to a standstill. And amid it all, police have been accused of cracking down on journalists. We'll have the details for you just ahead.

And a deadly weekend in Chicago leaves the city reeling. Dozens of shootings, 12 people dead, and so far no arrests. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. A human rights dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia is escalating. Riyadh has ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave the country and its vow to relocate thousands of Saudi students on scholarships in Canada. Ottawa accuses the Saudi government of human rights abuses, especially of women, and it's urging the immediate release of imprisoned civil rights activists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Saudi Arabia's foreign minister responded on Twitter saying, this the kingdom does not interfere in the affairs of other countries and will not accept any attempts to interfere in its internal affairs and we deal with it firmly.

The cabinet in Bangladesh is sending a tougher road safety law to parliament for approval after days of massive protests there. The demonstrations began over a week ago after a privately operated bus ran over a group of students, killing two and injuring several others. Thousands of students have brought the nation's capital to a standstill demanding safer roads.

[03:45:00] Some of the demonstrations have turned violent with protesters clashing with police. Local reports say more than 100 people were injured on Saturday. Police also arrested human rights activists and photographer Shahidul Alam after he gave an interview to broadcaster Al-Jazeera about the protest.

Steven Butler joins me now. He is the Asia Program Coordinator for the Committee to protect journalists. Thank you so much for being with us.

STEVEN BUTLER, ASIA PROGRAM COORDINATOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: My pleasure. Thank you.

CHURCH: We have seen disturbing images of authorities in DACA beating protesters. Talks to us about just how difficult it's been for journalist covering this story.

BUTLER: Well, journalists have become targets themselves. We have documented at least a dozen journalists who were beaten up, some very severely, well-known photographer for the Associated Press landed in the hospital with serious injuries. It's also difficult to believe that this is not intentional, an intentional effort to clamp down on media coverage of these demonstrations that are an embarrassment to the government.

CHURCH: And you mention Bangladesh photographer, Shahidul Alam, was arrested after reporting about the protest. He is now in hospital as you pointed out. What is likely to happen to him and how are other reporters responding to this intimidation?

BUTLER: He was arrested last night. A group of 35 to 40 men descended on his apartment and they forced him into a van screaming. He heard from a police station this morning, unable to walk on his own, wearing bloodied clothing, taken into a court, and there charges were presented against him for violation of section 57 of the information and communication technology act.

This is an act that has been used repeatedly against journalists over the past year or two. And what's going to happen to him? He is in jail now for one week. He is been remanded into custody for one week. And during that time, he'll be interrogated and very likely at the end of it the court will decide whether to press formal charges against him under this act.

CHURCH: Right. And what kind of reporting restrictions are being imposed on journalists by the Bangladeshi government?

BUTLER: We're not seeing explicit restrictions, but there is a quite a network of control, a system of control that works to essentially to intimidate journalists. This has been in place for a considerable time -- the arrest of Shahidul Alam, is one way that that kind of intimidation is communicated. The authorities are very active on the telephone, calling and threatening editors and reporters.

There are cases of Bangladeshis including reporters who simply disappear, sometimes for long periods of time. They may or may not he reappear afterwards. And all of these combined to create an atmosphere of tremendous fear. So there real isn't anything special this time that the authorities need to do -- I mean, what they have done is the Youth League, associated with the ruling alarmingly has, you know, has sent people out with sticks to beat up the journalists. And that in itself communicates a very clear message.

CHURCH: And what can your organization and indeed others do to change the situation there? Is there much that can be done?

BUTLER: Well, Bangladesh is a country that depends a lot on the international community for help. And we raise our voice in concert with others. We try to make a very loud noise to explain that this kind of behavior is really just unacceptable and we hope the -- the U.S. ambassador today actually met with the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh. We don't know what was discussed in that meeting, but we hope that she raised the issue of the way the journalists are being treated, particularly this very distinguished photo journalists Shahidul Alam, who is internationally recognized, has received all kinds of awards. He is a tremendous humanitarian. And it's rankly outrageous that he should be treated the way that he is been treated.

CHURCH: Steven Butler, thank you so much for talking with us and raising these concerns and making them clear to people around the world what is happening there in Bangladesh. We appreciate it.

BUTLER: Thank you. CHURCH: At least three people are dead and dozens injured after a

tanker truck exploded on a highway in Italy. The tanker carrying flammable materials rear-ended another truck in Bologna causing both to burst into flames.

[03:50:00] The fire then spread to a carpark below the bridge where several more vehicles caught fire and blew up in a massive explosion. The blast was so powerful, part of the bridge collapsed and the road had to be shutdown.

What started as a search for a 3-year-old boy here in the United States led to a shocking discovery? The toddler is still missing, but 11 other children have been rescued from this filthy compound in a remote area of the New Mexico desert. The children were wearing dirty rags as clothes. They had no food or water and were guarded by two heavily armed men. Our Kaylee Hartung is following this story.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The sheriff saying it's the saddest living conditions and poverty that he has ever seen. The depth of what these children have endured is still being investigate. These 11 children now in the care of the child protective services, who say, there focus is having the children most basic needs met and ensuring they minimize any further trauma to the children.

Authorities found something of an arsenal amassed by the two adult men in this makeshift compound, this small travel trailer that had been partially buried in the remote area of the New Mexico desert. These men were heavily armed when they were arrested. They had AR-15 rifles, loaded 30 rounds magazine, four loaded pistols and lots of ammunition.

One of those men arrested, Siraj Wahhaj, he is the father of the missing child. He is facing criminal charges as, too, is Lucas Morton. And with all five adults, those two men and three women believed to be the mothers of those 11 children in custody doesn't sound like they're answering many of authorities' questions. Authorities saying they are not giving them any information in regards to the child's current whereabouts, but authorities have reason to believe the child was at the compound in the last couple of weeks. Kaylee Hartung, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEO)

CHURCH: One sound rang out again and again in the U.S. city of Chicago this past weekend. Gunfire. It was an exceptionally violent weekend even for a city that has seen more, than its share of homicides. Between just Friday and Sunday, 66 people were shot, dozens fatally. So far, there had been no arrest made in the weekend shootings. Chicago's mayor, and police superintendent put some blame on the distrust of police. They say local communities need to step up and do more to help stop the violence. More now from CNN's Ryan Young.

(BEGIN VIDEO) RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A difficult weekend here in Chicago

with 66 people shot, 12 people killed, and a lot of those were juveniles, people under the age of 18 in fact, 14 kids were shot, two of those kids died. In some of these cases after the shooter opened fire on a group of people they just walked away. One of the scenes that stood out to us was outside one of the major hospitals here where more than 40 people gathered crying and wailing as they are waiting to figure out what was going on with their loved ones. But the mayor and talking in the news, he wanted more from the community, he wanted to see more action. He wanted to see more tips from the public.

RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: This is not about the Chicago police department, alone. It is not about a summer jobs program alone. This is about the fabric of a neighborhood and community who knows who did this. So, if you say enough is enough, you must come forward as a neighborhood where a moral center of gravity holds.

YOUNG: The mayor and superintendent of police talking with a lot of passion about what they want to see from Chicago. They say they need to see more community members working with police to get some of these shooters off the street. And just think about this. The police department has already confiscated more than 5,000 guns this year off the streets of Chicago. That coupled with the fact they had 30,000 kids working a summer youth program. They thought that would be the tipping point to sort of stop some of the violence. We've also seen community members take to the streets and also have massive protest, they say they wanted to see the violence stop, but so far, a weekend like this, they didn't know. Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEO)

CHURCH: And we'll be back in just a moment.

[03:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, farmers in southwest China's human province have created a giant mural in a rice paddy. The villagers planted five different strains of rice across nearly for hectares. Flowers from the rice bloom in vivid colors to reveal a goddess of beauty surrounded by butterflies. The attraction has brought more than 20,000 visitors to the area. Well done.

And finally, this is a story best left for the movies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: The scene a snake on the loose in London. However, it became a scary reality this past Saturday. After this boa constrictor was spotted having a snack on a busy East London Street. We don't know how it got there or where it came from. One theory, of course, is it's an escaped pet or worse, deliberately dumped and left to Rome. Authorities took the snake to a wildlife center saying the situation was far more dangerous for the animal than for on lookers.

And we'll leave you with that. Thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me any time on Twitter. Want to hear from you. The news continues now with Hannah Vaughn Jones in London. You're watching CNN. Have a great day.