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Sources: Saudi To Admit Khashoggi Killed In Interrogation; Business Leaders Pulled Out Of Saudi "Davos In The Desert; U.K. P.M. To Hold Cabinet Meeting Ahead Of E.U. Summit; Brexit Talks Stuck On Irish Border Issue; Hurricane Death Toll Rises To 19; U.S. Joins Ukraine For Military Exercises; Trump: Saudi King Denies Knowledge of Khashoggi's Fate; Inside Syria's Demilitarized Zone; Indian Minister Defiant Amid MeToo Storm; New App Works to Improve Access to Cancer Treatments; Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Expecting First Child. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 16, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I'm Nick Watt and this CNN NEWSROOM.

Facing a diplomatic crisis, Saudi Arabia is reportedly ready to acknowledge a prominent journalists death. Sources say that the Saudis will admit Jamal Khashoggi died in an interrogation that went wrong. They will say that the plan had been to abduct Khashoggi from Turkey but not to kill him. The journalist who was a critic of the crown prince's crackdown on dissidents was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago.

Khashoggi family released a statement saying in part our family is traumatized and yearns to be together during this painful time. The strong moral and legal responsibility which our Father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial International Commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death. CNN's Nic Robertson joins us now from outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Nic, what's the latest.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, investigators wrapped up here a couple of hours ago. They were here all through the night. They arrived about 7:30 p.m. locals, nine hours on-site at one point during the darkness. Light could be seen coming from one of the top windows, a blue-purple light was seen by one of our photographers flashing not quite clear that was, what it was precisely, we don't have a readout from Turkish investigators, but that sort of light is often used by forensic teams looking for samples of DNA.

The Turkish investigators say that they believe they know where Khashoggi was killed inside that building. They believe that he was killed there hours after he entered it 14 days ago. Now, so that was very likely precisely what they were looking for, the forensic evidence to back up those claims that they've been very clear about. But what they have actually discovered we don't know. The teams have left. It's not clear if they'll be coming back for a second sweep. It's not clear if they've been able to get to all the areas that they wanted to get to in the building.

Saudi officials also here seem now to have locked down. The consulate doors are closed. No one standing on the door, no cars parked outside. It's been quite a hub of activity over the past few days. They're very quiet right now, Nick.

WATT: And what do we expect to happen next? I mean, we've been told by these sources that the Saudis are preparing some kind of statement, some kind of admission. Do you have any idea when that's going to come and also maybe if that admission is going to perhaps change before it is released to the world?

ROBERTSON: Yes. I think that's a question a lot of people are trying to figure out at the moment, Nick. We heard indications over the weekend that indeed the Saudi authorities were preparing some kind of statement which would seem to absolve the highest levels of government from criticism in this and implicitly in it. And they've said as you were saying that it was a rendition gone wrong, an interrogation that went wrong, that in fact, this happened without clearance, without transparency, but it begs a whole number of other questions that that sort of statement would beg the question of well it appeared to be something some level an interrogation and a rendition that was sanctioned at some level at the beginning. How come it's taken so long for the Saudis to come clear about it?

And of course, one of the key questions for investigators here and for Jamal Khashoggi's family is where is his body. I think what we're hearing from his family is a very clear call to get to the bottom of this, and an international impartial permission to investigate his disappearance and follow up all the details. So all those questions are still not known at the moment and I think you know, for all of those who are watching this very closely, a lot of scrutiny will be paid to the details that the soundest may come forthwith.

There was an aircraft, two aircraft that flew here according to -- according to Turkish authorities with 15 men aboard them from Saudi Arabia arriving the day Jamal Khashoggi for sure she disappeared. And the men for those aircraft were in the consulate according to Turkish officials that they believed at the time Khashoggi disappeared so there's a lot, a lot of loose ends and a lot -- that would appear to be need to be tied up and a lot of details that are going to get an awful lot of scrutiny in cross-examination. So when might that come, again it's just not there at the moment, Nick.

WATT: Nick Robertson in Istanbul with the very latest, thanks very much. Now U.S. President Donald Trump says that he spoke with Saudi King Salman by phone Monday morning, Washington time and says that the King firmly denied any knowledge of what had happened to Jamal Khashoggi. Mr. Trump suggested, "rogue killers" could be behind the journalist's disappearance and that's a story that could shield Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from blame as CNN Sam Kiley reports, the Saudis may soon try to push that rogue narrative.

[01:05: 30] SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It will come as a blow to the Saudis to have lost control of the narrative that King Salman was so anxious to get hold of about 48 hours ago when he reached out to the Turkish President and then put out a statement saying that the two countries would form a joint investigative committee and that they would never shatter the brotherly love between the two nations.

Now we have a revelation that has come originally really from Donald Trump who appears to have blurted out a confidence shared with him by the Saudi King which suggested perhaps that what the President called rogue elements were behind the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in that consulate in Istanbul. CNN sources have confirmed that they believe that there will be a statement published by the Saudis perhaps coinciding with the visit of Secretary of State Mark Pompeo who is en route to Riyadh as we speak.

Either way though, there remains very serious questions but I think one of the things that is not in question is that the Saudis have been working on this for some days. We had rumors and innuendos that this was the sort of line that was likely to come out and the intelligence community here will be in a state of considerable unease because in all probability the think finger will be pointed at an intelligence official being has suggested that this was a rogue element rather than appointing any further up the chain of command perhaps all the way to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He of course right from the get-go insisted in an interview with the Bloomberg News Service that the Washington Post's disappearance was nothing to do with the Saudis and indeed invited anybody who wished to inspect the consulate. Now the Turks have been inspecting that consulate and a doubt will publish their findings very soon. But all of this coming at a time when Mike Pompeo is going to meet King Salman and the two allies, allies in the war on terror are going to try to put this behind them and try and move forward but the future of the crown prince remains a matter of debate albeit behind closed doors here in Saudi Arabia. San Kiley, CNN Riyadh.

WATT: Now, amid the turmoil over the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi stock market opens in just a few hours and it could be another volatile trading day. This after the main Saudi Index recovered most of Sunday's losses Monday rising more than four percent but world leaders continue to pull out of not coming high-profile Saturday investment summit. More now from John Defterios.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Until Monday, the major players on Wall Street were planning to attend the second so-called Davos in the Desert, that's all changed. Three of the biggest CEOs decided there's too much uncertainty associated with the kingdom after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalists. Larry Fink of Blackrock, Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone, and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase all deciding to bail out. Certainly, not a vote of confidence one week before the crown prince of Saudi Arabia's Investment Summit, especially after reports that the Saudis are prepared to admit the Saudi journalists died of an interrogation gone wrong.

Meanwhile, after severe selling Sunday, the Saudi stock market recovered all its losses on Monday with a gain of four percent. Telephoned diplomacy between the King of Saudi Arabia and the presidents of Turkey and the U.S. ease market concerns. However, after the latest news from Riyadh, Saudi exchange-traded funds on Wall Street dropped nearly two percent. A statement out of Riyadh calling for potential retaliation at any U.S. sanctions in Saudi Arabia had many believe oil supplies would suffer but the three major parties seem eager to find common ground. As bad as the tragedy over Jamal Khashoggi is, it seems to be an effort at this point to try to limit all the fallout. John Deftarios, CNN Business, Abu Dhabi.

WATT: And criticism is also growing louder over the war in Yemen in which the Saudis are playing a major role. The U.N. says the country is on the brink of the worst famine the world has seen in a century and it didn't have to happen. The Saudi-led coalition is fighting to control Yemen's port of data where most of the food comes in to feed millions of people. CNN's Nima Elbagir reports on the aftermath of the latest Saudi strike on that port and we must warn you some of the pictures you were about to see are graphic.


[01:10:13] NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Another day in Yemen's bloody war. This exclusive footage was sent to CNN by Houthi rebel-backed on satellite media showing the aftermath of a direct strike by a Saudi-led coalition plane on Saturday. Local officials saying 19 men, women, and children were killed as they attempted to flee the Yemeni port city of Hodeida. It's a site of an existential struggle between the U.S.-backed coalition and the Tehran backed Houthi rebels. As ever in war, the victims are too often innocents caught in the crossfire.

As scrutiny grows around allegations of the Saudi Crown Prince's involvement in the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, criticism is growing around MBS as he's known other great recklessness, the three-year-long war in Yemen. Today the World's Food Program told CNN the number of Yemenis facing famine could rise to nearly 12 million making it the worst famine for a century and one that is entirely man-made.

As I (INAUDIBLE) on today's course in the incessant satellite bombardment eight agencies say has created a perfect storm, one that leaves the parties to the conflict and their international backers with blood on their hands. In the U.S., the drumbeat of criticism among lawmakers is growing across the political aisle.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: One of the strong things that we can do is not only stop military sales, not only put sanctions on Saudi Arabia, but most importantly get out of this terrible, terrible war in Yemen led by the Saudis.


ELBAGIR: In spite of the President's avowed support for Saudi Arabia including brother large arms sales --

TRUMP: I would not be in favor of stopping a country from spending a $110 billion which is an all-time record.

ELBAGIR: Here in Yemen, they're hoping all the talk will finally result in action. Nima Elbagir, CNN London.


WATT: And you can take action to help the people of Yemen. Head to where you can find a list of vetted charities getting food and aid to people on the brink of starvation. And the British Prime Minister will soon address her full cabinet behind closed doors but it will be no ordinary meeting. Theresa May is expected to outline her final Brexit deal before a critical summit in Brussels on Wednesday.

European Council Chief Donald Tusk says a No Deal Brexit is now more likely than ever. The big sticking point avoiding a hard border in Ireland. The E.U. wants a backstop or full black -- fall back plan while Mrs. May is against anything that threatens to carve up the United Kingdom.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, BRITAIN: So this backstop is intended to be an insurance policy for people of Northern Ireland and Ireland. Previously, the European Union had proposed a backstop that would see Northern Ireland carved off in the E.U.'s customs union and parts of the single market separated through a border in the Irish Sea from the U.K.'s own internal market. As I said many times I could never accept that no matter how unlikely --


WATT: CNN's European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas joins me now. Dominic, I mean we've had Donald Tusk saying that no deal is more likely never. Angela Merkel of Germany saying this is more difficult than ever. Listen, I'm from that part of the world. I'm relatively intelligent and I cannot think of a solution to this problem. Give me yours.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Right, well and not only to this particular problem that over the last two years we've heard about a hard Brexit, a soft Brexit, a no deal Brexit, you know a checkers Brexit, a blind Brexit, and the latest is a backstop to a backstop. So everything no matter what we end up with here crashing out to the European Union or remaining in the European Union means dealing with the question of the Irish border.

As you mentioned in the lead-up, this is a country as geographic space that is divided between Northern Ireland that is part of the United Kingdom alongside England, Scotland, and Wales. And the southern part of the island is the Republic of Ireland, an independent nation-state that is a member of the European Union. In theory, if the U.K. leaves the European Union, you need to put a border up there in the same way as you would have a border between eastern states or the members of the European Union and countries that are not.

However, since the peace treaty, the peace accords, the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the border between and regions of the world that had been in conflict for generations were opened up. Thousands of people crossed that border on a daily basis to go to work. Trade is open between those particular areas. And so what the European Union had proposed to the United Kingdom is in the instant, in the case of them being unable to strike a deal with the United Kingdom.

They would provide access to the single market to a degree and to the customs union to Northern Ireland. So that they wouldn't have to put that particular border back up and with all the potential of raising tensions and reintroducing conflict into that area.

And so, this is something that remains -- you know, highly contested. There's so many other complicated reasons above all because Theresa May had called a snap election and is only able to remain in power, because the DUP, the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland supports her with 10 seats in parliament.

Now, they want to leave the European Union, but they don't want a wall going up between the two. And they don't want to be treated any differently than the other countries that remain in there. So, it seems as we go along that there is absolutely no way. And at the end of the day, one ends up thinking of actually the best deal for everybody here would be to just simply remain in the European Union.

[01:16:17] NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. I mean that is you've taken a very long run that route to get to what is possibly the only solution. But, now, Theresa May -- I mean, are her days numbered?

Listen, she didn't want Brexit to begin with. She now having put in position of leading the country towards Brexit. The next 48 hours are key for her. I mean, is she going to survive the 48 hours and maybe the next few months?

THOMAS: Well, look, this is the thing that every 48-hour period for her seems to be a period in which she could potentially be removed. You know, as many had said jokingly, the only reason she is still in power is that nobody really wants a position right now until we get to March of 2019 and figure out whether or not there's going to be any kind of deal, and whether or not the United Kingdom is ever going to leave the European Union.

The great fear on her side, of course, is that fear of a Labour government, and we could paradoxically end up if no deal goes ahead with a general election that ironically enough brings the Labour government to power. And that is just as eager in many ways to come out of the European Union but to negotiate something closer to a single market customs union deal that may resolve the issue with the Irish border.

But certainly, as she goes back and forth to Brussels and back and forth to a cabinet, and there's not a day that goes by when we're not thinking or wondering whether there's going to be some kind of vote of no-confidence or whether this will be the final end to her -- to her time in power. Whether the DUP will pull out their support or not.

So, here she is again, fighting along and trying to do with this. But, of course, at the end of the day, what the greatest challenge is she needs to deal with the European Union that she can clear with her party, there's extraordinarily divided. And also at the same time, clear that deal with Parliament.

It is extraordinarily unlikely that something will come about that will meet and satisfy those three particular partners.

WATT: Dominic, thank you very much for your insight into a fraught topic. Still to come, Donald Trump tours the areas hit hard by Hurricane Michael and praises his administration's response to the storm.

And the U.S. is drawing closer to Ukraine, joining the country for military exercises, but what will Russia think of all this?


[01:21:17] Donald Trump paid a visit to the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday, an area devastated last week by Hurricane Michael. This as the death toll from the storm rises to 19. Here is CNN's Scott McLean.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump and First Lady Melania touched down along a stretch of Florida coastline left almost beyond recognition. The Trump's met residents in Lynn Haven, Florida, and surveyed the devastation left by Hurricane Michael from the air.

TRUMP: I've seen pictures, but it's hard to believe. When you're above it in a plane and to see the total devastation. To see this, personally, is it's very tough. Very, very tough.

MCLEAN: President Trump also stopped by a FEMA distribution center to pass out water.

TRUMP: Here you go man, can you hit? We are doing more than anybody would have ever done.

MCLEAN: The tour comes as authorities comb through what little is left of Mexico Beach. Looking for the three people still unaccounted for.

JOE BUSH, RESIDENT, MEXICO BEACH: How did you just fill the water in here?

MCLEAN: Joe Bush has seen his share of hurricanes and almost never left. But he did this time, he made it to Marianna, Florida, more than 50 miles inland, but still not far enough.

BUSH: Got in a hurricane, tore my truck up. Blew my trailer on two cars. We thought it was father (INAUDIBLE). It would have been another 40, 50 miles, we've been safe.

MCLEAN: In Panama City, people lined up to register for FEMA assistance, and they'll need a lot of it. There's hardly a building that won't need repair even schools were badly damaged. Everett Middle School's Gymnasium looks more like a battlefield than a basketball court. All while a row of newer hurricane-proof homes sits nearly untouched nearby.

ARTHUR PHILLIPS, RESIDENT, PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA: I feel good for me, but I don't feel good for anyone else, that -- you know, had the all the devastation.

MCLEAN: Back in Mexico Beach, they'll have to rebuild entire neighborhoods, not just the power grid. Joe Bush thinks the president can help get it done.

BUSH: I think Trump takes care of the American people, I really do. I think I -- he's got a good heart.

MCLEAN: And crews searching through the rubble here using Cadaver Dogs have now found a second body. Police have not yet said the age or the gender of that person. The residents of Mexico Beach, they will be allowed back in on Tuesday morning.

They won't be allowed to stay because there's simply no safe place for them to stay. But they will be allowed to pick through what's left of their homes and businesses. Scott McLean, CNN, Mexico Beach, Florida.


WATT: The U.S. Air Force is joining Ukraine for what could be that country's largest military air exercises ever. The drills are meant to strengthen Ukraine's ties to NATO, but there is concern that they may also provoke Russia. CNN's Matthew Chance reports.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the United States ramping up its military support for Ukraine. This clear sky exercises the U.S. and Ukrainian warplanes flying wing to wing are meant as a show of solidarity.

But with Ukraine fighting Russian-backed rebels in the country's east, it's also a potent message to Moscow.

MAJ. GEN. DAVID BALDWIN, ADJUTANT GENERAL, CALIFORNIA NATIONAL GUARD: As the Ukrainian security forces and their armed forces become more and more capable, it allows them to better defend the sovereignty of their country and to deal with the problems that they have internally.

CHANCE: But isn't that immensely provocative? Aren't you worried that, that could pool aviation fuel on the flames of the raging conflict?

BALDWIN: We are demonstrating our resolve. And what we're doing here is not -- certainly not as aggressive or controversial as supporting insurgence across some other country's international boundaries.

[01:25:07] CHANCE: But U.S. military support for Ukraine is evolving fast. In September, the country's president formally took delivery of two U.S. patrol boats to bolster Ukraine's depleted Navy.

And more controversially, U.S. Javelin anti-tank missiles are now in Ukrainian hands. They've not been used in battle yet. But Moscow says their deployment crosses a line and encourages bloodshed. It's not just the sky that's clear, but the risk of escalation too.

Well, these joint exercises are just the latest sign of the dramatic changes that have taken place in U.S. policy towards Ukraine. The old reservations about ramping up tensions with Moscow seem to have receded into the background. While the new policy of training and arming Ukraine has really started to take off.

U.S. officials say their support is a response to Moscow's meddling. The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine posting a link to these drone images earlier this month. They showed military vehicles driving in and out Ukraine from Russia, according to international monitors.

"Moscow must stop providing deadly weapons under the cover of night to its proxies in Eastern Ukraine," the embassy said on Twitter.


CHANCE: It is a diplomatic balancing act for the U.S. ambassador, grappling with what critics say is confusion in the Trump administration towards Ukraine.

And on the one hand, you're arming the countries we've discussed. On the other hand, President Trump has, on occasion, spoken about -- spoken in what's been described as a deferential way towards Russia and towards Vladimir Putin. Do you believe that America is sending mixed messages when it comes to Ukraine?

YOVANOVITCH: Well, I look at our policy. And I think our policy is getting -- is a pretty good one towards Ukraine, and is getting stronger. So, we are providing assistance, as you described. And I think we're on the path to providing more assistance on the security side in this coming fiscal year.

CHANCE: More assistance, more training, more weapons. The trumpeting you could say, of a dangerous new era. Matthew Chance, CNN in Western Ukraine.


WATT: Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and now Saudi Arabia's King Salman. They have something in common and it is the U.S. president's apparent acceptance to various claims by all three at face value. What this attitude could mean for America's reputation abroad? That's next.


[01:30:22] WATT: Hello. And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Nick Watt and the headlines this hour. British Prime Minister Theresa May will her cabinet in the coming hours, and then E.U. leaders in Brussels on Wednesday where it's all about Brexit. Pressure is mounting to do a deal after European Council chief Donald Tusk said a no deal Brexit is more likely than ever.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday visited some of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Michael. He says the first priority must be taking care of people's basic needs. The death toll from the storm stands at 19. And one estimate puts damages at between $6 billion and $10 billion.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has died due to complications with cancer. The billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist was 65. Allen founded Microsoft with childhood friend Bill Gates in 1975. He also owned the NFL Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trailblazers.

And sources tell CNN that Saudi Arabia is ready to admit Jamal Khashoggi was killed during an interrogation that went wrong. The journalist hasn't been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. In a statement his family called for an independent inquiry into his death.

President Trump's insistence that Saudi King Salman not only denies any knowledge of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi but strongly denies it has some analysts saying that this fits into a troubling pattern of behavior by the U.S. President. One we've already seen play out with North Korea's Kim Jong-un and Russia's Vladimir Putin.

More now from CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is still swooning over his relationship with Kim Jong-un.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do trust him. Yes. I trust him. That does not mean I can't be proven wrong.

STAHL: Why would you trust him?

TODD: In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" the President noted that the North Korean strongman hasn't test-fired a missile or a nuclear warhead in several months -- something he credits to his interaction with Kim.

TRUMP: And then we fell in love, ok.

TODD: And Trump didn't seem bothered with Kim's track record on human rights.

STAHL: I want to read you his resume, ok.

TRUMP: Go ahead.

STAHL: He presides over a cruel kingdom of repression, gulags, starvation, reports that he had his half brother assassinated, slave labor, public executions. This is the guy you --

TRUMP: I know all these things. I mean I'm not a baby.

STAHL: I know but why do you love that guy?

TRUMP: Look. Look. I have -- I like -- I get along with him ok.

TODD: Trump brushed back when pressed on Vladimir Putin and the fact that he hasn't said a harsh word about Putin in public claiming he's been tough on the Russian President in private. Still he cut Putin slack over the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

STAHL: Do you agree that Vladimir Putin is involved in assassinations and poisonings?

TRUMP: Probably he is, yes. Probably. I mean I don't --

STAHL: Probably?

TRUMP: Probably, but I rely on them. It's not even our country.

TODD: Analysts say this is part of what could almost be called a Trump doctrine, blindly supporting dictators who've shown favor toward him.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR: There's no doubt that the President wants to be as strong and as powerful, and to wield that power as ruthlessly as the authoritarian leaders that he admires.

TODD: Now, the president is at it again, giving wide latitude to Saudi King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

TRUMP: The King firmly denied any knowledge of it. He didn't really know. Maybe, I don't want to get into his mind but it sounded to me like maybe this could have been rogue killers.

TODD: The President has had a longstanding affection for the Saudi royal family making his first ever trip abroad as president to the Kingdom and joining a sword dance, and basking in a five-story image of himself on the side of a hotel in Riyadh.

Analysts say Trump's unwavering support for the Saudi royal family and other repressive regimes is hurting America.

AARON DAVID MILLER, THE WILSON CENTER: Once we abandon that moral frame, and we become a country of interests rather than just a country of value -- of values. I think we've already seen it, a diminution in respect, the credibility and I would argue, in the end, power.

TODD: But regarding the Khashoggi incident, a Trump biographer takes it even further. [01:34:58] D'ANTONIO: Donald Trump has been going around for years

calling the press the enemy of the people. There's blood on his hands when it comes to Khashoggi because he created the environment that encourages this kind of lawlessness.

TODD (on camera): So far the White House has not responded to Michael D'Antonio comments that President Trump might have blood on his hands over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. Analysts continue to worry that by cutting so much slack to regimes like Saudis, the North Koreans, and to Vladimir Putin that President Trump is also whittling away America's leverage over these countries not only to get what the U.S. needs from them but also to stop them from behaving badly on the world stage.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


WATT: David Sanger is a CNN political and U.S. security analyst. He joins me now from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

David -- what is your reaction to the story we just heard from Brian that apparently President Trump is damaging the U.S.'s image overseas by cozying up to perhaps some unsavory leaders?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: You know, I think there are two big issues here -- Nick. One is the choice of leaders that he admires. I mean he has obviously praised Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, was full of praise for Xi Jinping until the more recent trade disputes with China, and of course with the Saudi king and with his son, while being very critical of some traditional American allies.

He would not be the -- the first American president who has taken human rights off the front burner of American foreign policy. And some argue that Barack Obama did the same and certainly George W. Bush did the same.

But what's happened with President Trump is sort of two fold. First he's gone from putting human rights on the backburner to taking it off the stove entirely. When you begin to say we have to find out what happened here which is fine and the Khashoggi case, the investigation. But then prejudge the outcome by saying whatever the outcome I don't want to threaten the American arms contract. At that point you're saying exactly what a human life is worth. In this case the $110 billion, the figure is probably a lot less that President Trump claims that -- that weapons contracts will be worth over time.

So what we've seen happen is that the Trump foreign policy has moved to a point where I think you've got a question whether or not human rights figures in this at all.

WATT: But why do you think -- I mean, you know, you mentioned there the $110 billion dollars in potential arms deals with the Saudi. Is this -- does he lionize these people purely as part of his kind of transactional foreign policy or does he empathize with them? Is he perhaps -- you mentioned Xi Jinping, I mean he seems jealous that Xi could be, you know, president for life. Why do you think the President treats these leaders in this way?

SANGER: Well certainly I think he admires the fact that they can operate without the kind of constraints that fall on any American president. They don't have to sit around and wait for budgets to be passed by Congress. They don't have to worry about courts overruling their executive orders.

And I'm sure that to President Trump there's a certain appeal of that. And not just for President Trump. We've seen other American presidents as well. The difference here is that it's very difficult to get President Trump to talk about the role of values in American foreign policy.

When I did some interviews with him with Maggie Haberman, my "Times" colleague, another CNN contributor back during the campaign and he was talking g about the objectives of this foreign policy I had to raise human rights and he was saying, oh well that too.

And I think the answer is he's interested in human rights when it serves his purposes thus the calls even today to -- on the Iranians to lighten up on protests.

WATT: And where does this Saudi and Khashoggi scenario -- how does this play out? I mean this morning -- sorry, yesterday morning, Monday morning President Trump seemed almost naive in his description of the phone conversation he had with King Salman. He said, you know, he denied it very strongly and the President seemed to believe it. How does this play out, and how does Trump look at the end this the process?

SANGER: Well, in saying he denied it very strongly he sounded a lot like what the President has said to many of us and said in Helsinki about Vladimir Putin denying his involvement in the Russian interference in the 2016 election. It is as if you take that denial on face value.

[01:40:05] The interesting question is what Mike Pompeo's role is and what his mission is in going to Saudi Arabia on such short notice. And one possibility is that he's there to warn the king and the king's son about the possible repercussions here.

The other is that it is possible that he's there to help them find a way out. And the President seemed to be suggesting that with his statement that perhaps these were some rogue killers. He was almost inviting the Saudis to say well, he did die in our hands. He didn't actually leave the embassy unharmed. But it wasn't us. It was a bunch of people going rogue as they tried to conduct a basically illegal rendition back to Saudi Arabia.

Hard to believe that some rogue players could get two airplanes fly to Istanbul from to Saudi Arabia, go right in to the consulate with a bone saw apparently and then fly out again that afternoon. That's really a gone rogue operation.

WATT: David Sanger, joining us from Cambridge, Massachusetts -- thank you very much for your time.

SANGER: Thank you -- Nick.

WATT: Syria's children of war -- some are too young to have ever known peace but now they're getting a chance to be children again in the country's last remaining rebel stronghold -- an exclusive look inside Idlib's demilitarized zone, next.

Plus the battle against cancer in China -- how a new healthcare app may help save lives. The report from Beijing, just ahead.


WATT: Now, to a CNN exclusive. We're taking you inside the demilitarized zone intended to protect civilians in the besieged Syrian province of Idlib. Some rebel fighters have left the region after Russia and Turkey agreed to set up a buffer zone but others reportedly remain even as Monday's deadline to withdraw passed. And the situation remains tense as Arwa Damon reports.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Despite their smiles and giggles at our camera, these kids have never really known the innocence of childhood.

[01:44:54] Shama says she still has nightmares of the day she was wounded by shrapnel. Her two cousins are orphans, their parents killed in an airstrike years ago.

Shamsa's father, a rebel fighter himself, says they weren't living; they were just waiting to die. But now he says he has hope.

As you can see, this is basically the demilitarized zone, the belt of pink. And within there are only meant to Turkish observations posts. The Russians, the Iranians and the Syrian regime are meant to be taking up their positions well on outside.

After years of cease fires and de-escalation zones that failed to hold the Russia-Turkey negotiated demilitarized zone is perhaps an agreement that, at least in short-term, stands a chance.

The main difference between this and other agreements are Turkey's assurances. (INAUDIBLE) spokesperson for one of the main rebel groups, the National Liberation Front explains.

"The Turks said that they would protect this area -- protects us against any threat."

Rebel fighters can keep their light weapons within the zone. And we're shown what are some of the last heavy weapons, multiple grad rocket launchers, howitzers that are being pulled out of Syria's DMZ.

The commander that we have been talking to here have been very quick to emphasize that this is merely a withdrawal of heavy weaponry. And while everybody hopes that this agreement will hold there is in Syria's reality, and the fact they have to ready themselves for the eventuality that it does not.

But that (INAUDIBLE) says would result in an ocean of blood if this agreement doesn't hold. It is far from a long-term solution to Syria's tragic bloody recent history. But it's meant at the very least to allow for a respite from the bombings and violence that has torn so many families apart. Create sense of stability and perhaps, just perhaps, allow for a viable political solution.

Arwa Damon, CNN -- in the demilitarized zone of Syria.


WATT: Now to India where a growing number of powerful men stand accused of sexual harassment. And now one prominent political figure is challenging his accuser in a high-profile court case. As CNN's Nikhil Kumar reports it could prove to be a pivotal moment in the country's burgeoning MeToo movement.


NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: An Indian government minister has hit back at allegations of sexual harassment rejecting calls to step down and suing one of his accusers. It's all part of what's been dubbed as India's MeToo moment.

MJ Akbar is the junior minister of foreign affair in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and a former top newspaper editor. He's faced a series of allegations over the past week by former female colleagues that have accused him of groping, assault and harassment during his journalism days.

He shot back with a sharp denial in a statement Sunday after he returned from an official trip abroad. He said the claims were quote, "false and fabricated". On Monday he went to court to sue the first of his accusers for defamation. He's filed a case against Priya Ramani, a journalist who in 2017 wrote a piece for the Indian edition of "Vogue Magazine". In it she described an experience of workplace harassment during a job interview with an unnamed editor. Last week she tweeted that that unnamed editor was in fact Akbar, making her the first of a number of women who've since come forward to accuse the minister.

Now Akbar is not the only powerful man caught up in a flurry of allegations here. Many of them published on social media. Recent days have seen women come out publicly to accuse big names in India's media and entertainment industries.

In one case a top political journalist has lost his position. In another, a Bollywood production house had been (INAUDIBLE) following harassment allegations against one of its cofounders.

But Akbar's name is the most high-profile thrown up by this movement here which is why in coming days, all eyes will be on the courts in Delhi as he attempts to challenge one of his accusers.

Nikhil Kumar, CNN -- New Delhi. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: For people who live in remote parts of China, getting good cancer care is extremely difficult. But a new app called Drive (ph) wants to change that by connecting rural doctors to the top medical experts in the world.

CNN visited a struggling couple to see how the app could help.

Matt Rivers brings us their story.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For Xao Rejei (ph) -- a life or death drama of her fight with cancer plays out in a small windowless room.

She and her husband are poor farmers from rural China. She didn't trust her local hospital when they told her that she had cervical cancer.

So she came to Beijing for a diagnosis and treatment, staying in what locals call cancer hotels -- cheap, dirty rooms across the street from the hospital.

"We have to borrow money," she says, "What else can we do. I'm still young. How can I give up my life?"

[01:49:59] She says they've spent $50,000 so far, a staggering sum for this couple-- a story repeated thousands of times across Beijing each year. The desperate filling these hotels because they're worried they can't get adequate cancer treatment most other places in China.

The people staying in these rooms hope that by coming to Beijing, they give themselves the best possible chance for a cure. But like anyone with cancer how do they know, a, the diagnosis is correct; and b, that by being here, they're getting the best possible treatment.

WILL POLKINGHORN, FOUNDER, DRIVER APP: Any one doctor, any one hospital by definition doesn't have all the options.

RIVERS: Will Polkinghorn (ph) wants to help. He co-founded an app called Driver that's just launched in China and the U.S. The concept is to connect patients to the best possible treatment by aggregating knowledge. So a patient gets the app, gets the biopsy and sends those results to a lab Driver had set up in either China or the U.S. to get treatment options.

POLKINGHORN: We process all of that information. We present to the patient what their standard of care is. And we present to the patient what advanced therapies they're eligible for.

RIVERS: The National Cancer Institute in the U.S. and the National Cancer Center in China have signed up as partners. Driver says that that means app users could connect with the world's best oncologists ensuring users know which treatment is best and where they can find it. That might mean coming to a big city like Beijing or maybe staying close to home.

"It can help the patient so that some patients don't need to come to big cities for treatment."

The app is expensive $3,000 plus $20 a month for full-service. They're trying to bring the cost down. And if they do that's when people like Xao could afford it. Maybe she wouldn't have to travel all the way to Beijing just to confirm a diagnosis. Maybe her treatment would be more effective and faster.

For now though, that's a dream. The reality is in a small dirty room, radiation and an army of daily pills. This is treating cancer when you're poor in China.

Matt Rivers, CNN -- Beijing.


WATT: Now, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, also known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle embark on their first overseas tour and announced some big news. A baby is on the way and the expectant father just spoke about the upcoming new arrival. Live to London for details -- next.


WATT: The British royal family has a new member on the way. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have announced they're expecting their first child. Kensington Palace says the baby is expected springtime next year. And a short time ago Prince Harry spoke at a reception where he mentioned the exciting news.

Our Anna Stewart joins me now, live from London with the latest. Anna -- a lot of Brexit tension going on over there -- is this going to burst that bubble?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going to happen around the same sort of time next year which is fantastic. We've got something to be happy about no matter what happens with Brexit.

Now, we are t-minus six months or so to the due date of this baby but the craziness has already begun. This baby already owns a pair of teeny, tiny ugg boots given to it by the governor-general in Australia, has a kangaroo toy with a little joey inside of it -- very appropriate. And it is going to get loads of gifts in the coming days.

It is 16-day commonwealth tour these guys are on -- four different countries, 76 engagements. And as you said Prince Harry just spoke shortly ago in Sydney thanking everyone for the really warm welcome. But he had something to add. Take a listen.


[01:55:04] PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUCCESS: We also generally couldn't think of a better place to announce the upcoming baby, be it a boy or a girl. So thank you very, very much.


STEWART: The hesitation with which he says the word baby, is it the novelty of it? Or is it the trepidation? I'm not sure -- I guess these guys have kept it under wraps for so long, it must be quite bizarre finally to be able to speak publicly about it.

WATT: He's quite clearly scared. And who wouldn't be? He absolutely should be.

Now, you mentioned they're in Australia right now, Fiji, Tonga -- how is it going. I mean this is what Royals do. Is it going well?

STEWART: It is going well. You know, I've always wanted to go to Sydney, myself. I would have thought you need a couple of week to see it. You know, so far today, they've already met some koala bears at the Taronga Zoo. They've been to the Opera House. They've been across Sydney harbor. They've met tons of people.

They're doing it all in very quick time. It is a big tour they're on. And I think this news saying, being able to say that they are expecting a baby now at the beginning of the trip will help because it is a bit of an exhausting schedule and so the Duchess if she is tired or unwell it will be much easier for people to understand it.

And of course, it means this ends the speculation which we have had now for months that they might be expecting.

WATT: Anna Stewart in London -- thank you very much for bringing us the happy news.

And finally the White House is not only the home and office of the President of the United States. It also serves as a bit of a museum and art gallery featuring many displays of past American leaders. And that august collection now includes this sumptuous oil. It's called "The Republican Club" by Andy Thomas.

It depicts a svelte Donald Trump sipping a diet coke and sharing a laugh with former presidents -- among them Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and Abraham Lincoln. And yes, it's actually been hanging on a wall in the White House. It was spotted in the background during a Trump television interview that aired Sunday.

Thank you very much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt.

Another hour of news is coming up next with Rosemary Church.

You're watching CNN.


[02:00:06] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A new explanation after repeatedly and publicly denying involvement in the disappearance of a journalist also say the Saudi government --