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CNN NEWSROOM

World Economic Forum Wraps Up; U.N. Says Face Problems One at a Time; Government Still Shut on Day 35; Qatar Ready for World Cup 2022; Venezuela Closes Embassy And Consulates In U.S. Non-Emergency U.S. Staff Told To Leave Venezuela; Exclusively Interview With Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov; Israeli's Safety Is One Or Our Greatest Concerns; World Economic Forum; Climate Change Could Soon Reach Tipping Point. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 25, 2019 - 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)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Around the world. Welcome to a special edition of CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Natalie Allen. Live from CNN center in Atlanta.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Becky Anderson in Davos, in Switzerland, live from this year's World Economic Forum. Thanks for being with us.

ALLEN: We begin with signs of progress, however small, towards ending the U.S. government shutdown. Day 34, yes, 34, saw two separate plans in the Senate to end the standoff. Both though were voted down.

HOWELL: The White House says it would consider a plan to reopen the government for three weeks only in exchange for a down payment on the president's border wall that he wants. Democrats aren't buying it. But for now, at least both sides seem to be talking.

Our Kaitlan Collins picks it up from here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: President Trump caving tonight, conceding to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the State of the Union standoff and agreeing to wait until the government is reopen to deliver it. The president tweeting this is her prerogative.

NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Last night the president accepted the fact the State of the Union should be at a time, the State of the Union should be at a time when we can talk about the State of the Union when the government is not shutdown.

COLLINS: But the feud between the president and house speaker is still alive on his Twitter feed today. After he implied, she was talking about the border wall when she said she doesn't understand why. Trump didn't seem to realize Pelosi was quoting his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are reports that there are some federal workers who are going to homeless shelters to get food.

WILBUR ROSS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: Well, I know they are. And I don't really quite understand why.

COLLINS: I nan interview Ross downplayed the financial hardship caused by the 34-day shutdown.

PELOSI: Wilbur Ross saying he doesn't understand why when he was asked about people going to food lines and pantries and the rest. He says he doesn't understand why they have to do that. Let them eat cake kind of attitude or call your father for money. Or this is character building for you, it's all going to be end up very well. Just as long as you don't get your pay checks.

COLLINS: Ross, who Forbes estimates is worth hundreds of millions of dollars advising federal employees to take out loans to make ends meet.

ROSS: True that people might have to pay a little bit of interest but the idea that it's paycheck or zero is not really a valid idea.

COLLINS: The commerce secretary oversees 40,000 employees who aren't getting paid as a result of the shutdown. But he said he's disappointed by those that aren't showing up for work.

ROSS: It's kind of disappointing that the air-traffic controllers are calling in sick in pretty large numbers. Depending on the week.

COLLINS: Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said his comments were tone deaf.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) MINORITY LEADER, NEW YORK: Many of these federal employees live paycheck to paycheck. Secretary Ross, they just can't just call their stock broker and ask them to sell some of their shares.

COLLINS: And the president's daughter-in-law also sparked fury by saying this.

LARA TRUMP, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S DAUGTHER-IN-LAW: This is so much bigger than any one person. It is -- it is a little bit of pain but it's going to be for the future of our country.

COLLINS: Sources tell CNN the president hasn't spoken to the Democratic leaders in over two weeks.

PELOSI: The president of the United States, we -- we meet with him anytime he wants to meet.

COLLINS: As warnings about real world impact turn dire.

PAUL RINALDI, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: The biggest toll I have right now is the human toll. The fatigue in my work environment right now, where I'm seeing routine mistakes are actually happening.

COLLINS: All five former homeland security secretaries, including Trump's former Chief of Staff John Kelly sending the president in Congress a letter calling on them to fund the department and end the shutdown. The president's former economic advisor urging the same.

GARY COHN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISOR: the government needs to be open. The government needs to be open. He's got to get the government open.

COLLINS: Now after those two competing proposals failed in the Senate, the White House announced that they would support a short-term spending bill that opens up the government for the next three weeks if it included a version of a down payment for the president's border wall.

[03:04:58] Now the White House and the president have not responded to questions about how much exactly they are looking for but Democrats have said that's a nonstarter.

Still, White House officials are praising that some kind of negotiations are going on between the White House, Republicans and Democrats as at least some sign of a little bit of progress.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Kaitlan, thank you. And in the middle of this, all the very sad stories of so many people caught up in the middle of this mess, some 800,000 federal workers. The cost is adding up now, some $6 billion and counting. That's how much furloughed federal workers are owed in back pay for the past five weeks alone.

ALLEN: That's staggering, isn't it?

HOWELL: Yes.

ALLEN: According to S&P global ratings, the shutdown is also costing $1.2 billion of GDP each week. That's the government cost. The human cost is much more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many of you are -- are running out of money? Raise your hand, all of you.

MARAH PEARLMAN, FURLOUGHED FEDERAL WORKER: I don't know how I'm going to pay the 250 a month for his medication.

YVETTE HICKS, SMITHSONIAN CONTRACTOR: I'm about to be convicted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm about to lose my car. My car is two months behind. I'm about to lose my Medicaid and my car insurance.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: And in the meantime, a CNN affiliate in Hawaii reports one government worker is living in his van in a parking lot. The reason, he can't afford gas for the daily commute.

ALLEN: We turn now to Venezuela. Also, people hurting very badly and have been for some time because of economic collapse. There are violent protests and two men claiming to be the nation's rightful leader. One of them, the sitting president refuses to step down and Venezuela's military and Russia and China have thrown their support behind Nicolas Maduro.

HOWELL: And in the meantime, the United States, the E.U. and most Latin American nations back Juan Guaido who declared himself president. He now says he would consider amnesty for Mr. Maduro if the transition to power is smooth, he says.

Here's CNN's Barbara Starr on how the U.S. has responded and its options.

(BEGIN VIDETAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, the U.S. is in the middle of a violent flash point in Venezuela with rockets on the streets and massive protests. After 35-year-old Juan Guaido declared himself the Venezuelan president and even swore himself in this week.

President Trump quickly acknowledging him as the new leader of Venezuela. Prompting Nicolas Maduro to order U.S. embassy personnel including U.S. marines out of the country. The U.S. digging in and ignoring the order.

JOHN BOLTON, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Our personnel are still there. They've been invited to stay by the legitimate government and consistent with their that's our intention. But we're working really around the clock here to do what we can to strengthen the new government.

STARR: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urge other countries to declare the Maduro regime illegitimate.

MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: His regime is morally bankrupt. Its economically incompetent and it is profoundly corrupt.

STARR: The U.S. pledging $20 million in humanitarian assistance. But the next step may be up to the Venezuelan military, a crucial power center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We proclaim loyalty and absolute subordination to Nicolas Maduro.

STARR: For the U.S., the main job in the coming hours will be keeping embassy workers and families safe, if Maduro musters military support to threaten them. And if Maduro doesn't step down what will happen next?

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: It's risky for our diplomats. However, we have a lot of security at the embassy. I don't think Maduro would mess with our diplomats. But I think it was a bold move by the administration, by the OAS, by several Latin American countries a majority to say we're not recognizing Maduro anymore.

STARR: In 2017, President Trump threatened military action.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.

STARR: But if the president decided to use military power to either protect the embassy or remove Maduro, the challenges are significant. Venezuelan forces could fight back. It could require U.S. ground forces. Logistics and supply facilities would have to be placed in the region. For now, the administration wants a central diplomat to stay put.

JOHN KIRBY, FORMER UNITED STATES STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I don't think we should be backing down from this challenge. Now look, if the threat gets too high, we'll have to do that, and we do have to recognize that Maduro has the military power in his hands. But I do think in this case that the Trump administration made the right decision.

[03:09:57] STARR: And now Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered all Venezuelan counsel or offices and its embassy in Washington, D.C. to close.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: For more on the crisis unfolding in Venezuela, let's bring in Jennifer McCoy, she is the distinguished professor of political science at Georgia State, and she joins us now from Hungary. And thank you so much, Professor McCoy for being with us.

Because this is a rapidly developing story, we're seeing a diplomatic tit for tat now. Venezuela ordering its embassy to close in the U.S. after U.S. announced hours ago that non-emergency U.S. employees will leave Venezuela. What do you make of these developments?

JENNIFER MCCOY, PROFESSOR, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, they are certainly a game of chicken going on between the U.S. and Venezuela over the embassy personnel. But so far, it looks like the Maduro government has maintained a lot of restraint. They're uncertain how to respond, they threatened with responses but haven't carried out either arresting the opposition leader Guaido or taking any moves against the U.S. embassy personnel.

I believe they know that if they did that could trigger a U.S. military response. I don't think the Venezuelan military will want that.

ALLEN: Hopefully not. We heard the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling on countries to reject Maduro. About one dozen have. How may that impact what other countries do here and what happens or might happen in Venezuela?

MCCOY: Well, most of the larger Latin-American countries had already said they would not recognize Maduro when he was inaugurated on January 10th for his second-term and have, you know, formally recognized the opposition leader Guaido along with the United States and Canada.

The smaller countries in the U.S., the Caribbean who had traditionally been voting with a large number of them with Venezuela, yesterday again, there was not a super supermajority in favor of Guaido in the OAS.

Traditionally the U.S. leading the charge is difficult for Latin- Americans to follow along because of the history of U.S. intervention in the region. They're reluctant to follow along. However, there's been said (ph) concern about the Venezuelan situation in the wave of refugees that they're anxious for this situation to be resolved at this point.

ALLEN: So, and following up on what you just said, what is your assessment of how the Trump administration is handling this so far?

MCCOY: It's certainly been a high-stake gamble when Guaido escalated on January 23rd the plan and swore himself in as president and the U.S. immediately recognized him along with a number of other Latin American countries. Because the thought had been that he was going to wait until there were some support from the military. That's what he had been talking about before that.

So, when that happened, two days ago, that certainly escalated the conflict but so far it does look like it's putting a great deal of pressure on the Maduro administration and the military. And it may just pay off into negotiations for a transition. That's the bet. That's the gamble that they're taking. And hopefully it will go in that direction.

Guaido yesterday announced even up to an amnesty for Maduro if he were to give in to a transition government.

ALLEN: Thank you so much for your expertise, because this is an amazing time for Venezuela. There's a lot of hope in the country that they may be on a different path. We'll wait and see. Professor Jennifer McCoy, thank you.

MCCOY: Thank you.

HOWELL: Another big story we're following this hour, the World Economic Forum is about to wrap up its final day in Davos, Switzerland. Still ahead, we take you there live and replay some of the highlights of the past week.

ALLEN: Also, our Becky Anderson who was there catches up with the secretary general of Qatar's organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup. Check in under progress.

We're back in a moment. [03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back to Davos. We were in the final day of the World Economic Forum, global leaders may not have solved all of the world's problems but they certainly should have a better idea of the challenges facing the planet.

It's one of the primary benefits of bringing everybody together, to hash out these issues. And there are plenty of thorny ones. Climate change, trade wars, global energy demands, political unrest. It will be interesting to see how people like Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund or U.K. Finance Minister Phillip Hammond summarize their thoughts at the end of all of this.

Well, the possibility of another summit between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea has again put the issue of denuclearization before the global leaders here at Davos. I spoke with South Korea's foreign minister about what she hopes to see from a second summit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KANG KYUNG-WHA, SOUTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I think the two leaders in their first summit came out with a broad agreement, first that the North Koreans would completely denuclearize, that the two would start building better relations and the two would work towards lasting peace on the Korean peninsula and the Americans would provide security guarantees.

So, they have broad pillars of what the next step should be, what the outcome of the second summit should be. Of course, the denuclearization is not just the U.S. -- South Korea is a global issue, it's a security issue that's been on the Security Council agenda for many years. So, we expect concrete action, movement on the denuclearization track.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: South Korea's foreign minister. Well, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of urgent problems facing our world and not to mention the complexity of trying to solve them all. Doing too much at once can be a recipe for failure.

So, David Beasley of the U.N.'s World Food Programme offered this advice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID BEASLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: We got so many conflicts and so many things, I said, I would like to ask the leadership slow down a little bit. Why don't we focus on ending one? Why don't we bring all of the powers that be, quietly and privately and whatever it takes, let's just end one and then let's go to the next one.

But right now, it seems like we're making very little headway in any conflict and it's growing. And it's like when we do make some headway here something pops up over there and this is why you are seeing the hunger spike up.

This is, because we know as I said to the Europeans, I said, you think you had a problem with Syria, a nation of about 20 million people, when you had destabilization, a small degree of infiltration of those few million that did migrate into Europe, I said you think that was an issue.

[03:20:04] Wait until the greater for hell reason from the Red Sea to the Atlantic, of 500 million people is further destabilized because of conflict, poor governance, climate extremes, and the list goes on.

And until we -- it's one thing to talk about the present ongoing conflict. It's another thing to bring stabilization by addressing the root cause. And this is what I've been seeing in other -- in countries around the world and the major western donors. It's like, you got leaks in the roof, there are waterlines up there, the four little borderlines that are leaking and everybody is fighting where to put the buckets.

I'm like, why don't you go up there on the roof and let's agree to fix the root cause by addressing the root cause.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: David Beasley there. Well, in less than three years, Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup. Soccer fans from all over the world will travel to the tiny Persian Gulf state. The man charged with getting the place into a fit shape is one Hassan Al Thawadi.

Now we've been following his progress since Doha won the right to host the tournament. And he's in Davos. So, I caught up with him and asked Al Thawadi how confident he is about delivering the infrastructure necessary for a megaevent like the World Cup.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HASSAN AL THAWADI, QATAR 2022 WORLD CUP ORGANIZING COMMITTEE: Extremely confident, Becky. I mean, you know, it's been two years since we last visited, the stadium that you visited is going to be online, coming online at the end of this year or early next year. We've already delivered in May, I think will be two years from when we delivered our first stadium. And other of our stadium will be coming into place.

So, this year actually we'll have two stadiums inaugurated and with another two coming into the pipeline within the first quarter of next year as well. So, plans are coming online, you know, as planned. In terms of infrastructure, our metro system is being tested and commissioned as we're speaking right now. Expressways are being delivered, you know, within the plans set out so by 2021 all expressways will be ready.

ANDERSON: This is all of course within the context of an economic boycott led by the Saudis. Of course, you couldn't have known about that when you were won the bid back in 2010. Bloomberg reporting that the boycott has wiped out nearly $800 million

of Qatar Airways is yearly take home. The government injecting tens of billions of dollars we know elsewhere to help cushion the blow. How have World Cup preparations been feeling that pinch, sir?

AL THAWADI: Well, let me clarify first. It's a blockade as opposed to a boycott. It is an illegal blockade until international law that we suffered. But some things are a blessing in disguise. I mean, the economy is actually doing quite well. I believe the S&P ratings -- S&P's outlook in terms of Qatar's resilience in relation to the economy is actually quite positive.

Growth, if I'm not mistaken, I believe in 2018, it was up until the first quarter or second quarter of 2018, I'm not entirely sure, the second half of 2018, GDP has increased by 5 percent, as well as GDP growth. The stock market is doing quite well. I think it's one of the best performing stock markets globally but at least definitely regionally.

So, in terms of the impact of the blockade, we're overcoming it. In relation to the World Cup, obviously when it first happened, we needed to find alternative suppliers and within a short period of time we were able to find alternative suppliers providing better quality and better pricing as well.

So, as I said some things are a blessing in disguise. Now locally, in terms of there's a very strong sense of community, resilience within the Qatari community. Both ex-pats and locals and now we're in the process of delivering the World Cup.

ANDERSON: So. you're telling me this didn't keep you awake at night ever?

AL THAWADI: With what, the blockade? I mean, there's no doubt, you know, we've -- from day one we said this is a tournament for the region and it still continues being a tournament for the region. This is a tournament for the people of the region. And definitely we -- you know, we've always worked and strived towards insuring that the benefit of the World Cup extends beyond Qatar to the people of the region.

ANDERSON: Well, there's been a lot of talk about the possibility of the 2022 World Cup being a unifying moment given what is going on at present. Can you confirm for us yes or no that you would back a Pan- Gulf World Cup in 2022?

AL THAWADI: Well, currently, there's a feasibility study being undertaken by FIFA and the decision to expand from 32 to 48 will be taken both between FIFA and ourselves as well. So we're waiting for that result of the feasibility study.

ANDERSON: Would you back a Pan-Gulf World Cup, yes or no?

AL THAWADI: Well, I need to wait -- there's also the feasibility study first. ANDERSON: A feasibly you need to broaden these games the dream of the

biggest World cup ever. One of our viewers just to hear from FIFA's president before you answer that question.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIANNI INFANTINO, PRESIDENT, FIFA (through translator): The Qataris are open to the discussion of course, but it's not going to be easy to organize a World Cup with 48 countries in Qatar alone, maybe a few games will be played in neighboring countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[03:25:00] ANDERSON: Is this FIFA playing hardball with you guys?

AL THAWADI: I mean, we will have open discussion to open transparent discussion with FIFA. Obviously, there's a -- you know, there will be a 40, 18 World Cup in 2026. There is a desire to explore the possibility of expanding it. But again, I think we've been very clear from the very beginning.

You know, one we need to look at the result of the feasibility, the benefit and so on and everything that the feasibility study entails. And then after that we need to have an open discussion on the matter. And as I said, the decision will be made between both Qatar and FIFA.

ANDERSON: Would it be politically feasible to stand this World Cup to say, Iran and Turkey?

AL THAWADI: That's, again, the results of the feasibility study which I'm sure will factor in all these different implications.

ANDERSON: Congratulations are in order. Let's talk about the beautiful game, team Qatar doing well in the AFC over in Abu Dhabi and topping your group in fact. The World Cup though will be a different ball game. We know that a couple of years ago in Doha. You told me that it would be good to Qatar to go beyond the round of 16. Is that realistic?

AL THAWADI: I mean, look at the team today. You know, we're playing against tough opponents. And the team -- the team is doing well. It's not only winning but it's winning convincingly as well.

And there are -- you know, this is the core of the team that will be in 2022. So, I think we've got a very good team that's definitely building for the future. I'm confident that we will show -- we will put in a good showing. I think we will qualify beyond the round of 16.

ANDERSON: Building for the future under whom? Who might manage that team? There are some big names, Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, and Pep Guardiola being talked about. Can you tell us who the front-runners are at this point? AL THAWADI: I think the nature of that curiosity takes away from the fact that we got a great coach right now, the great coach that's brought a team, you know, together. And again, it's showing results on the pitch. So, I think, you know, this conversation of who is going to be coaching in 2022 takes away from what the coach is -- the current coach is doing.

So, I would say --

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: Come on.

AL THAWADI: No, honestly, I would say -- you know, this is a great coach, I think, you know, right now any conversation takes away from the results that he's done. So, I'd like to say, you know, say congratulations to the team for the results that they've. Congratulations to the coach for what he's done today and wish him the best.

These discussions and anticipation of who is going to coach in the future, I think takes away from -- you know, takes away a lot from what the current team and the current coach is doing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Hassan Al Thawadi speaking to me. It's interesting who you find up the mountain here in Davos at the World Economic forum and a lot more to come for you this hour. For the time being, though, George and Natalie, back to you.

HOWELL: All right. Becky, thank you so much. Great interview.

ALLEN: Yes, we enjoyed it. Thanks, Becky.

Next here on CNN Newsroom, is the U.S. president a Russian agent? In an exclusive interview, CNN puts that question and others to one of the Kremlin's top officials.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to all of you watching from wherever you live around the world. This is CNN Newsroom. I'm Natalie Allen.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm George Howell, good to have you with us. The headlines we're following for you this hour, the U.S. is telling all nonemergency U.S. staff to leave Venezuela as Caracas severs diplomatic ties with Washington, D.C., the U.S., the E.U. and a dozen other nations support self-declared President Juan Guaido, he now says he would consider amnesty for sitting President Nicolas Maduro if the transition is smooth. Mr. Maduro is backed by Russia, China and the military.

ALLEN: The U.S. Senate has voted down two bills to end the government shutdown, one with funding for President Trump's border wall, one without. The White House said Mr. Trump would consider reopening the government temporarily if Congress approves a large down payment on the wall.

HOWELL: She didn't say the word, Brexit, but Britain's Queen Elizabeth seemed to have it on her mind in a speech at the Women's Institute. She urged respect for differing opinions and seeking out common ground. The Queen has a longstanding policy of not talking publicly about politics.

ALLEN: Moscow is pushing back against suggestions U.S. President Donald Trump is in cahoots with Russia.

HOWELL: Mr. Trump has, of course, been very chummy toward the Russian President Vladimir Putin among other things, saying that he accepts Russia's word that it did not meddle in the 2016 U.S. elections despite the fact that U.S. Intelligence, the community says otherwise.

Our Fred Pleitgen has Russia's Deputy foreign minister about that head on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are even some questioning whether President Trump is an agent of Russia. What do you make of that?

SERGEI RYABKOV, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: I mean, it's completely, completely out of touch with anything that could be conceived as, you know, anywhere close to the reality. I'm amazed. I'm embarrassed by what I see and what I hear from the U.S.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: In the wide ranging exclusive interview, Russia's Deputy foreign minister also said the U.S. is quote, "pouring gas on the fire," by opposing Nicolas Maduro's presidency in Venezuela in favor of the opposition leader.

ALLEN: Also, despite siding with Iran and Syria, he says Israel's safety is one of Moscow's greatest concerns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYABKOV: We in no way underestimate the importance of measures that would ensure very strong security of the state of Israel. The Israelis know this, the U.S. knows this, everyone else, including the Iranians, the Turks, the government in Damascus. This is one of the top priorities of Russia.

PLEITGEN: How? Because, I mean, you're Iran's ally on the ground, aren't you in Syria?

RYABKOV: I wouldn't use this type of words to describe where we are with Iran. We are working together with them and -- as so called Hasta la process (ph), they were very helpful when we convened the National Congress of the people of Syria in Sochi, but we do not see at any given moment completely eye-to-eye on what happens.

You remember the Russian side acted last year to persuade Tehran to kind of withdraw from the border with Israel with some heavy equipment, so that this area would be more protected and there would be no attempts on the part of highly controlled militias to attack Israel from that front.

We were prepared at that moment to go even further, although it's always very difficult to negotiate with the Iranians. But it didn't work, because of U.S. and Europeans inability to guarantee even as, you know, some extension of re-imposition of U.S. extraterritorial sanctions on Iran.

PLEITGEN: I want to move on to Venezuela because it's a very troubling situation there as well. Do you think that there's the danger that the U.S. could intervene in Venezuela and what do you think that would mean?

RYABKOV: Yes, I truly feel that there are dangerous signs of something going on along these lines. We warn everyone and not just the U.S, but some others who may entertain these ideas from this type of action. The resort to military power would be catastrophic, it would be a huge -- another huge blow to the international system. We face now a scenario that may lead to further bloodshed in Venezuela.

[03:35:03] We have just called international community to think twice or more if need be and refrain from actions and try not to, you know, feel a temptation to meddle. That would be a terrible thing.

Parties, opposition (ph) in the government in Venezuela should be given a chance to continue dialogue. I know the situation is a, you know, a dramatic one, but so what? I mean, is it just because of this that others should go there and think of using military power? I think -- I think it will only deepen the crisis.

PLEITGEN: President Trump just recognized, I think, the parliament as the -- as a real interim president.

RYABKOV: Yes.

PLEITGEN: Do you consider that meddling?

RYABKOV: For sure. I mean, it's just pouring, you know, gas on the fire that it equals to this. We have said what we think on this formally through the statement of the Russia foreign minister, which is out there. It is a strong statement. We, you know, do not try to withhold anything. There is a very, very dangerous moment and everyone should show out utmost responsibility.

PLEITGEN: You have good relations with the Maduro government, what could Russia do in this situation?

RYABKOV: We do not in any way hide from the fact that we support the Maduro government. We have worked with the Maduro government on several practical issues over the years. We do think that in this particular challenging and dangerous moment we stand shoulder to shoulder with the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Our Fred Pleitgen there, sitting down exclusively with Russia's Deputy foreign minister.

HOWELL: And still ahead here on newsroom. We go back to Davos Switzerland, where some of the tension this week has been on the dire climate circumstances facing animals around the world. We speak with the head of the World Wildlife Fund about the urgent actions needed now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to Davos in Switzerland, I'm Becky Anderson for you. Well, saving the planet's flora and fauna has been a big talk up here at Davos.

[03:40:03] And most agree that time is running out. It was to focus of a conversation earlier in the week between Prince William and world renowned naturalist David Attenborough. Attenborough warned that human population and activity are all growing so rapidly, mankind risks destroying the very things that sustain all life.

Indeed, in 2018, the World Wildlife Fund determined that the animal populations around the globe have declined 60 percent since 1970. In other words, more than half of the earth's wildlife has died off in less than 50 years. That is pretty frightening stuff, isn't it?

Joining me Marco Lambertini, he is the director general the World Wildlife Fund, and Paul Hunyor, partner to be BCG Digital Ventures and co-chair of the World Economic Forums, a consumption committee, whatever that is. Perhaps you'd like to explain later. You have been part of what has been going on here. And much talk of the risks of climate change here. So you've come up with a new idea. A new call to action. Explain.

MARCO LAMBERTINI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD WILDLIFE FUND: And we call to action because the plan is in the red. It's because of us. Think about climate change, the deforestation, over fishing, extinction, plastic, water and air pollution. We have to change our relationship with the planet, not just for the beautiful animals that live on land, elephants, whales, bees, but actually in our own interest.

Nature is giving us services for free, every day, clean water, clean air, pollination for our crops, happiness and emotions and feelings. So, we got to change our path of development. And it is not just about stopping destruction of utilities (ph). It is all about embracing positive development, positive new economy.

We published today a report on the Green Economy. The Green Economy is on the rise. For the first time, capital -- market capitalization, investments, jobs and clean energy, for example, is outstripping fossil fuels.

ANDERSON: You're talking about a new deal for nature. And there's money in this. Is that what you're telling me?

LAMBERTINI: There is money. There are new jobs. There is new economy to be embraced. There's new production of goods produced in a way that don't hurt nature. And that's the balance that we need to find.

ANDERSON: Paul, you are spearheading a fascinating project, marrying up tech data and sustainability. Barge (ph) me something here in the --

PAUL HUNYOR, PARTNER TO BE BCG DIGITAL VENTURES, CO-CHAIR OF THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUMS: Freezer.

ANDERSON: --freezer. Tell me what is going on here?

HUNYOR: OK. This is a really special fish that was caught in an Antarctic waters and served here in Davos, but sustainably caught importantly. And the game changer here is we're partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to build a traceability platform where we could actually track this fish using RFID tags at source, give it an identity, trace it all the way through the supply chain and then expose that information to people who are consuming it to understand more information about the food they're consuming, where was it caught, in what condition, was it sustainably caught, et cetera.

So one of the huge things of Davos was profit with purpose and brands are crying out for how did they create more trust and transparency. And this traceability platform that we call OpenSC, like Open Supply Chain is a phenomenal partnership between BCG Digital Ventures and WWF to try and help brands accelerate this technology trend.

ANDERSON: People get climate change, why don't they get the crisis that is nature?

LAMBERTINI: You're absolutely right. And we take nature for granted. And that has to stop because we're reaching a tipping point, for forest, for ocean, for bio diversity, for species are reaching tipping points. And if you take a species out of the system, the whole system will collapse.

We look at the forest, it isn't just about trees. It is about thousands, and thousands of species, me and the (inaudible) beetles, to mocking bird (ph) that make the forest alive. And that forest, believe me guys, breathing air and giving us so many other services like regulating waters and so on and so forth.

So, we have to stop taking nature for granted. And that's why we call for a new deal for nature that we want governments and business to sign up to in 2020 and together with the climate committee in Paris really advance a sustainable development agenda that put us in the right track.

ANDERSON: This is an extremely innovative idea, Davos is the sort of place where, you know, we hear these out of the box ideas. What else have we heard here? What can we expect?

HUNYOR: Yes, so, I think, social --

ANDERSON: We will put that back on our freezer.

HUNYOR: Exactly. I think social venturing is a new trend. I think, we don't have another 30 years to achieve the sort of progress on sustainability and certification that WWF has been tirelessly working at for the last 30 years. And so to double the impact of people consuming things that are sustainable, we need to harness the best of human ingenuity and innovation.

[03:45:07] We are seeing some amazing startups and entrepreneurs featured here, but more importantly, huge organizations stepping up to that challenge of saying how do we lead in terms of innovation and venturing and that's what -- in terms of social impact, WWF has an enormous opportunity to lead in these field and we're so proud that Marco and the new deal for nature is a shining example of that.

ANDERSON: The challenge is to move from the narrative that environmentalists have been quite frankly banging out for years and years and ensuring that the big organizations, the private sector, the environmentalists and those of us get involved together, right? That is a challenge. It sounds easy.

LAMBERTINI: It is a challenge, but I think the evidence is so clear that we cannot go on like this. We just simply cannot go. There is not enough fish in the ocean. There are not enough trees on the planet that is not enough energy on the ground to allow us to develop in a way that doesn't destroy the whole thing, including our own civilizations.

So, we are getting it and we are beginning to take action. It is all about scale and speed. We need to speed up. But I think we are encouraged by what we hear in Davos to some extent. And in Davos, we also heard more than ever before the voice of young people, there were many young people here saying to the decision makers of another generation, we need to fix this, because this is our future and we're leaving us with a really, really terrible legacy.

ANDERSON: If we were to underline just how important this is, how long have we got?

LAMBERTINI: Scientists clear we got 12, 15 years --

ANDERSON: Twelve, 15 years.

LAMBERTINI: -- to stop -- to be becoming a carbon neutral society. So we need to start cutting emissions drastically and no much more to fix issues like ocean, forest, rivers that are really going down the tubes too. So, we got a decade.

And that's why in 2020, they needed (ph) for nature needs to clarify to the world a few really critical targets like the 1.5 degrees in temperature, similar targets for the ocean, for forest, or by diversity and make sure in the next 10 years, we are on a safe path.

HUNYOR: Yes. We need to make it easier for the business that are doing good things to other and expose that and we need to make it easier for consumers of sustainable products to be able to understand what they're consuming.

ANDERSON: Because that was my question to you. Is there a demand for this from the consumer? I mean, I get it, but I mean, you got to scale this up or no one will know about it.

HUNYOR: So one of the most inspiring things I heard this week was Alan Jope from Unilever saying the data is clear. It's unequivocal that people will pay more for purpose driven brands and sustainably produced goods and commodities. Now, that wasn't the case a couple of years ago. We got to do it our bit (ph) to make it easier for those who are so motivated to say I want to be more conscious about what I'm consuming.

LAMBERTINI: But a lot the government and companies can do to actually allow people to lead sustainability without paying more because, you know, today, renewable energy, for example, solar. The cost of solar is actually cheaper than fossil fuel. So why on earth government has continuing to subsidized fossil fuel production insulation, when actually there's already cheaper alternative.

ANDERSON: You both make a lot of sense. Thanks for coming on.

LAMBERTINI: Thanks.

HUNYOR: Thank you.

ANDERSON: I know the viewer will get it. I know you two will get it too, George and Natalie. Just, you know, a classic example of why being here is so important. It is not just about the great and the good, the old cliche is about coming up this hill, you know, the titans of business and these political leaders, sort of banging on what many people suggest is just a big jamboree for the rich and famous.

It is about stuff like this, stuff that is going to be so important, is so important to you, me, and the viewers out there today. So, we wish you guys the very best of luck. Guys, back to you.

ALLEN: All right. We really appreciate that interview. Ten to 15 years to get our act in order here, finally Davos on top of it. All right. Thanks, Becky.

HOWELL: Air-traffic controllers are being hit hard by the U.S. government shutdown. Still ahead, no pay, long hours, sick-outs and the toll it could take on travelers.

ALLEN: Also ahead here, Donald Trump, he loves to give out nicknames, mean ones, so why hasn't he come up with anything for his political nemesis. No nickname for one Nancy. That is next.

[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: The impact of the U.S. government shutdown is not only affecting federal workers and government contractors. It is also effecting national security here.

ALLEN: Yes, to put it bluntly, America is becoming less safe by the day in ways many people haven't considered.

For that story, here's CNN's Alex Marquardt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX NAFFA, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINSITRATION OFFICER: Not getting paid is a serious problem that really needs to end and I really hope it does soon.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alex Naffa, is a TSA officer in Houston, a dad to two little girls who is also taking care of his own ailing father and about to miss his second paycheck in a row.

NAFFA: No money for the mortgage for the cars, for the insurance, for the bills that we have. So, it's been very tough on all of us.

MARQUARDT: Now the threat to American flyers is also growing. Air- Traffic Controllers were also going without pay issuing a warning, "We cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play or predict the point of which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented."

PAUL RINALDI, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER ASSOCIATION: I'm starting to see routine mistakes in clearances being made, because controllers are distracted.

MARQUARDT: As federal workers suffer, the impact is being felt within the agencies and departments they work for, particularly when it comes to National Security.

THOMAS O'CONNOR, PRESIDENT, FBI AGENTS ASSOCIATION: For special agents, financial security is national security.

MARQUARDT: A report from the FBI Agents Associations said, that operations including fighting terrorism and developing critical sources are being effected with dramatic potential consequences.

O'CONNOR: The failure to fund the FBI is making it more difficult for us to do our jobs, to protect the people of our country from criminals and terrorists.

MARQUARDT: Another group tasked with protecting the country, Coast Guard also not being funded. A Coast Guard pilot telling CNN that flights are being canceled, because pilots are stressed and feeling unsafe. Saying flying is unforgiving, you have to be 100 percent focused or people die.

And with the Coast Guard parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security also without funding, five former Homeland Security Secretaries, including the president's former Chief-of-Staff, John Kelly, who is leading the West Wing when the shutdown started sent the president and Congress a letter, asking that they fund the critical mission of DHS.

JEH JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I fear that the damage already done to our security will be months if not years as a result.

MARQUARDT: We touched on the United States Coast Guard there and adding to their pain, a spokesman tells me that with the shutdown, the families of any Coast Guard members who dies in the line of duty today or retired member who dies today, they would not receive their loved ones benefits as long as the shutdown lasts.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: That is certainly one of the darker sides of the shutdown. How effected and we've had stories like that. But we are going to turn now to a sideshow, a side story to the government shutdown. And it involves Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump, Speaker of the House and the president, maybe it's a case of writer's block or trouble channeling his inner bully.

HOWELL: Either way, the U.S. president has hit a wall when it comes to nicknaming his political nemesis. Our, Jeanne Moos, explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is coming.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She is Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who we just nicknamed, no nickname Nancy, because of what President Trump failed to do, live up to his reputation as a Master Nicknamer.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Little Marco, Little Rocket Man, Crooked Hillary, Lying Ted.

MOOS: But was the president lying down on the job when he said.

TRUMP: Nancy Pelosi or Nancy as I call her.

MOOS: Twitter called him out. That is her name. Bet she's never heard herself called that before.

[03:55:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is the only person he hasn't given a nickname to. Pocahontas, Elizabeth Warren; Lying Ted; it's like Nancy Pelosi or as I call her, Nancy.

MOOS: But what was the president thinking? Furious range from he considers using just her first name to be an insult to it's an unexpected show of respect or maybe he's scared of madam speaker. Is it possible the president has lost his knack for nicknames? Last year he tried to tag her as high tax, high crime, Nancy Pelosi, he also tried to brand her as soft on gangs.

TRUMP: The MS-13 lover, Nancy Pelosi. MOOS: But the lover of nicknames failed to make those stick. She has broken his corny nickname generator. A comparison was made between the president's comments.

TRUMP: Nancy Pelosi or Nancy as I call her.

MOOS: And this line from Austin Powers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allow myself to introduce myself.

MOOS: But if the president wanted to introduce a nickname for Nancy, he seemed to run into a wall. Jeanne Moos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry about it Little Marco.

MOOS: CNN.

TRUMP: Or Nancy as I call her.

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Stay tuned to that one.

HOWELL: We'll see if he comes up with something. All right, the former Secretary of State Colin Powell wants to remind Americans what the country is really all about and he's saying it's about kindness and helping others who are in need. Powell got a dose of that when his car blew a tire near Washington and then a stranger stopped to help him.

ALLEN: Yes, that's Anthony Maggert, he lost his leg to bacteria while serving in Afghanistan, and Maggert says at first he didn't know who was on the road, he just saw someone in trouble. Turns out Colin Powell was a hero of his. Powell said, the man's kindness touched his soul. He says it's a good reminder for Americans to stop screaming at each other and take care of one another.

HOWELL: At the end of the day that's really what it is all about, isn't it?

ALLEN: Well said, Mr. Powell and thanks to Mr. Maggert for making our day.

HOWELL: Absolutely. And thank you for being with us this hour. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Remember to connect with us anytime on Twitter. The news continues with Max Foster next in London. Thanks for watching.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)