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CONNECT THE WORLD

International Support Grows for Self-Proclaimed Leader Juan Guaido; Oil Prices and Higher after U.S. Sanctions on Venezuela; No-Deal Withdrawal Now Seems More Likely; ISIS Last Stand in Syria; Germany, France and U.K. Set Up Payment Channel with Tehran; U.S. Set to Pull Out of Milestone Nuclear Treaty with Russia; EU Message to U.K., No New Negotiations; Brutal, Dangerous Coal Groups Parts of U.S. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 31, 2019 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00] HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live from London this hour.

We begin the program with the struggle for power ongoing in Venezuela and the growing international implications. Just a short time ago, the

European Parliament voted to formally recognize the self-declared leader Juan Guaido as interim President. The U.S. pledged its support for Guaido

on Wednesday, and the U.K. is supporting the idea of new targeted sanctions against the embattled President Nicolas Maduro and his regime.

Meanwhile though, Russia is praising what it calls Mr. Maduro's openness to dialogue, after he said he was willing to sit down with the opposition.

China and Turkey also standing behind Mr. Maduro as president. Now, all this, as several foreign journalists reportedly have been detained in the

country, protests there continue, as the country remains gripped in both political and economic crises.

Let's get more details now on the situation on the ground in Venezuela and we'll also get some market reaction to the political crisis that's

unfolding. Joining us now Jorge Luis Perez Valery who's live for us in Caracas and John Defterios standing by for us in Abu Dhabi. Jorge, to you

first. I understand you're outside a Guaido event there in the Venezuelan capital, tell us the mood on the ground.

JORGE LUIS PEREZ VALERY, CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hannah. There is a lot of expectation of what the final outcome of this crisis is going to be. Will

Nicolas Maduro keep the presidency of this country, as he is getting backups from China and Russia? Or instead is, Mr. Juan Guaido, going to

finally take into effect here, a transactional government, that can take Venezuela back to democracy. That's the main question for many Venezuelans

right now.

We are at this moment at the main university of this country, Universidad Central, where it is expected that Mr. Guaido is going to show up and do a

conference about what -- how is he going to take into effect his transitional plans. A lot of crowds are coming here, expecting him to show

up. There is a lot of people that are truly trusting in him and see him as a leader that can finally lead Venezuela to another situation, to lead it

out of this chaos.

JONES: And Jorge, one other question to you, I understand that Juan Guaido has been particularly busy speaking to foreign leaders, gaining more and

more support, for his claim to the presidency. What can you tell us?

VALERY: Well, most of the countries of the Americas, North and South America and Central America, are backing up Mr. Guaido as interim-president

of Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro is still keeping support from China, Russia, and several other countries, that most of the international community is

favoring Mr. Guaido as president of this country. That he can finally lead a transition, and the final steps, he called for elections, to elect a new

President for this country. Guaido's insistence is to take support from the Venezuelan military. He has stated in a recent article, opinion

article published in "The New York Times" that he has been keeping context with the military officials in anonymous ways. So his insistence is that

once he gets the final support from the Venezuelan military, he is going to finally take another step towards this final purpose of setting up a

transactional government and finally presidential elections.

JONES: Jorge, thanks very much. I want to go to John Defterios standing by for us in Abu Dhabi to get the economic side of this crisis. We are

just hearing about the political ramifications of everything happening in Venezuela. John, the U.S., the Trump administration has openly shown its

support for Juan Guaido, the opposition leader, not just in words but also in actions now as well. Just explain to us how exactly the U.S. is

currently trying to squeeze Nicolas Maduro and his regime.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNNMONEY EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: I think it is a great question, Hannah. I think it is very clear that the U.S. is trying to put

daylight in between Nicolas Maduro, the President, and the military brass, which supported him going back a week ago, and even paraded around with him

Wednesday, to show that he has the continued support. Having Juan Guaido, having clandestine talks with the military takes us to a whole new level.

Now the U.S. is using every economic tool available to, as you suggest, squeeze Maduro and the military. First and foremost, redirecting revenues

from PDVSA, the state oil giant, on the imports going into the United States about, a half million barrels a day, directing that money to the

National Assembly.

[10:05:00] Number two, there is a thorny issue of Citgo which is a very large refiner in the United States, and operates 5,000 petrol stations, and

30 U.S. states, as we speak. It is owned by the Venezuelan government, in particular, PDVSA, and the Trump administration is considering again

diverting the assets to the interim government going forward.

And finally, they're looking at offshore accounts and gold holdings by Maduro and perhaps by the military in countries like Germany and France and

even the U.K. We haven't seen action yet, but the threat from the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Central Bank, this is a dollar-based economy, after

all, in Latin America, because of the hyperinflation. They have a lot of control over what takes place.

And let's look at the big picture of PDVSA itself. It's been an absolute collapse when it comes to oil output over the last ten years. Production

at the end of December is pretty alarming, 1.1 million barrels a day. If you stack it up against the 3.2 million barrels a day it produced back in

2008, 20 years under Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, a freeze on foreign direct investment, and that's the result you get. It's their number one

export earner.

And finally we have to think about the wider picture here. The U.S. is moving in to territory that's been controlled by Russia and China in terms

of the influence over those two leaders, Chavez and Maduro. They pumped in $70 billion over the last ten years. I cannot imagine they're going to

duck out quietly, but the U.S. is making it a clear power play in using every economic tool available right now -- Hannah.

JONES: John Defterios in Abu Dhabi. Also Jorge Luis Perez Valery, in Caracas for us. My thanks to both of you on this important story.

Now the British Prime Minister Theresa May has been ordered back to Brussels to renegotiate her Brexit deal. But the EU says there is no room

to talk and the prospect of no-deal is now more likely than ever. CNN's Nina dos Santos shows us what that may mean.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): It is the biggest question on British minds and one that the Parliament tried to make sure

the country would not have to answer.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The house did vote to reject no-deal, but that cannot --.

DOS SANTOS: What would happened if the U.K. left the EU without a deal? The official predictions have been sobering. From immediate shortages of

food and medicines as ports block up. To a 9 percent fall in GDP. A 30 percent drop in house prices and sharp interest rate hikes. In other

words, disaster, says this campaigner, who fought for Parliament to have the final say.

GINA MILLER, CAMPAIGNER AND FOUNDER OF LEAD NOT LEAVE: No-deal will be an absolute catastrophe. No-deal means no transition. So it means in the

morning of 30 March everything would have to be in place. So we would have to start from scratch. And also, this idea that we will be able to

replicate exactly the same, is impossible. Because if you think about it, we are 65 million people compared to half a billion in the EU. So we just

don't have the same clout.

JONES: But with unemployment at a 43-year low, and exports still growing, Brexiteers say the country is well equipped.

EDGAR MILLER, CONVENER, ECONOMISTS FOR FREE TRADE: It shouldn't be thought of as no-deal. It should be thought of as a different deal. We in fact,

have generally referred to it as a world trade deal, where you stop the obsession about trying to have a special arrangement with the EU.

DOS SANTOS: The EU's own research predicts the lion share of growth over the next decade will come from outside the bloc, and Leavers want Britain

to be able to capitalize on that trend.

EDGAR MILLER: The biggest benefit is that you can do free trade deals with all of the countries in the world and we calculate that to been a 4 percent

increase in GDP. Secondly, you have your own regulation, that is tailored to the U.K., you can get rid of the dead hand of the EU regulation, and we

calculate that is about another two percentage points in increase in GDP.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): Whether a no-deal Brexit ends up being a blessing or a curse, depends to a large extent whether the U.K. can trade under

World Trade Organization rules after leaving EU. Now aside from the fact that that could make a whole range of goods, including some of these

clothes on the London High Street, subject to significant tariffs. It's also unclear as to whether the WTO today would need to be brought up to

date with more modern aspects of the British economy.

GINA MILLER: Leaving with no-deal means leaving every single EU institution, and we have to have those replicated on the morning of the

30th of march. A medicals agency, a chemicals agency. The list goes on and on. We have not one ready.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): As ever with Brexit, the theory paints one picture, the practicality is another, and until March 29, no one will

really know if no-deal is or isn't the way to go. Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[10:10:00] JONES: So is Britain now facing off with the other 27-member countries of the European Union and simply hoping that they blink first?

Our Phil Black has more from Downing Street now. So, Phil, Theresa May has been told by her Parliament that no-deal is simply not an option. Not that

that's binding on the government. But it still seems that even reopening her old deal with Europe is going to prove problematic to say the least.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed, Hannah, that's right. So the Prime Minister's view is that the recent vote in Parliament was Parliament

essentially declaring what it needs to pass a withdrawal agreement. Now, that is, fix the section of the existing agreement which seeks to ensure

that there will never be a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The EU's take on that is that was British Parliament,

once again, simply saying what it doesn't want. What it is against, not actually suggesting a solution to that very tricky point. So the EU says

it is really up to the U.K. to come up with new ideas that could try and break this deadlock. And it's crucial that they are new ideas, not

suggestions that have been made before, that have been raised and dismissed during the long negotiation process that resulted in the existing

withdrawal agreement. The EU seems to be saying it doesn't actually believe that's possible, which is why it is standing by the existing

agreement, and simply saying it is not open for renegotiation. So we have a situation where the Prime Minister says she has a mandate to go back to

Brussels, but Brussels simply doesn't recognize that mandate -- Hannah.

And Phil, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, she has just two weeks -- less than two weeks really now -- to come back to Parliament, with what might be

a new deal. Some of her critics are saying that she is simply running down the clock, but who has more leverage at the moment? Is it the EU or is it

Theresa May when it comes to that March 29 deadline?

BLACK: It's very difficult to say, isn't it? Because a bad outcome here will affect both, neither side wants it. But the reality here we are March

29 is close, you're right, she has promised to come back to the House of Commons by mid-February and report what progress or lack of progress she

has, tick tock. And yet we're in a situation where all possible outcomes to this mess are still in theory possible. It's possible she could get a

deal or that doesn't look likely. Which means exiting without a deal is still possible, unless the government or Parliament moves to rule that out

by suspending or delaying the exit date. And if that does happen, well, one theory says that the longer this process drags on, then the greater the

chance it could be up to the British people to decide on how to break this deadlock. Either through a general election, or yet another referendum.

So we are still in a place of maximum uncertainty -- Hannah.

JONES: All right, we'll have plenty more on this topic coming up, later this hour. Phil, for now, thanks very much indeed.

Later this hour, I will be speaking to a British MEP, a member of the European Parliament, to get his take on all of the Brexit news.

And also, still to come on the program. What's left of ISIS? Now faces its final showdown in Syria, as enemies close in on multiple fronts. We

have exclusive footage. That's coming up this hour.

[10:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live in London. Welcome back.

The terror group that aspires to be an empire is now making its final stand in Syria. Along the Euphrates River in the east, the remnants of ISIS,

once a formidable force, is besieged by Kurdish and Arab forces on the ground and U.S.-led coalition war planes from the air. Freelance

cameraman, Gabriel Chaim, filmed this exclusive and dramatic footage you'll see only on CNN and we want to warn you first, some of it is graphic. Our

Ben Wedeman has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're planning their next move in the final showdown with the last remnants of

ISIS. Commander Habib Simko (ph), the Syrian Democratic Forces, is leading his men on a night operation. Their progress lit by flares into the last

stronghold of what was the so-called Islamic state. Now reduced to a remote and ever-shrinking sliver of land along the Euphrates River in

eastern Syria.

At first light, coalition aircraft begin to bomb. As troops venture into the town of Sousa, or what's left of it.

With the help of artillery and airplanes, we were able to take control of this place, the soldier tells cameraman, Gabriel Chaim, who shot this

exclusive video for CNN. The soldier vows within ten-day, God willing, finish.

It may take longer than that, ISIS isn't giving ground easily. They counter-attacked. Heavy machine gunfire didn't stop them. The troops had

to retreat. By day's end, reinforcements arrived and they were back on the offensive, not however, without cost.

The next day starts with a mortar bombardment. The adjacent town of Mayadin, the objective. On the edge of town, a soldier carries a baby.

The family follows. But the soldiers are wary. These last villages are full of ISIS's most hard-core supporters. Everyone is treated with

suspicion. They ordered the young men to take off their shirts to show they're not concealing weapons or explosives. This family's next

destination, one of many camps out in the desert, filling up with tens of thousands who have fled the fighting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Civilians want to escape to safety, says this soldier. But ISIS threatens them with their weapons to

go back so the coalition airplanes will hit them.

WEDEMAN: Those who defied ISIS paid the ultimate price. Under these blankets, the soldiers say are eight children and two women, killed while

trying to escape. The images too gruesome to show.

The ISIS fighters did escape. Leaving behind weapons and ammunition. Yet the battle rages on. ISIS's last stand, its last battle, its last bastion,

will go down in a torrent of fire, and blood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Let's get over now to CNN's Ben Wedeman who brought us that report. Ben, we can see there in that very powerful footage there from Gabriel

Chaim, that as you said as well, ISIS is not giving ground easily. But if this is the last stand, then when it's over, will Donald Trump the U.S.

President be right in saying that ISIS is now defeated?

[10:20:00] WEDEMAN: Well, we have to qualify this. ISIS, as the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, as an entity that really came into being in late

2013, or most importantly, 2014, in June, with the conquest of Mosul, will no longer exist as what essentially amounted to a state, with a

bureaucracy, with taxes, and that sort of thing.

However, ISIS, as an idea, as the Islamic caliphate, that was the brainchild of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, it is far from defeated, far from dead.

Keep in mind they control or affiliates of ISIS control territory in the Egypt, Egypt Sinai Peninsula, in Libya, other parts of Africa, as far away

as the Philippines, and Afghanistan. So yes, this chapter of the history of the Islamic state may be about to end, but ISIS is not over yet --

Hannah.

JONES: And Ben, what about, we know from Donald Trump, that he wants to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. I'm wondering what impact that has already

had on the battlefield, on both sides of the battlefield, whether people are buoyed by that news or whether morale is low as a result of it.

WEDEMAN: Hannah, on the one hand, what we have seen is a real intensification of U.S.-led coalition bombardments of ISIS targets in this

area of eastern Syria. We know for instance that there are U.S. Special Forces in the area, doing, among other things, looking for anybody who

might be a leader of ISIS, and of course, they are looking for Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi. So there is a real intensive U.S. and other coalition forces involvement on the ground in this battle.

But when you step back, and you look at the big picture, the future of this part of Syria, there are a lot of questions, there's a lot of doubt, there

is a lot of worry. We know that Kurdish leaders in this part of Syria are in discussions with Damascus. Because their main concern is not

necessarily continuing to fight ISIS, their concern is that Turkey will enter that part of Syria, and essentially crush those forces there. So on

the battlefield, it does appear that the Kurdish and Arab fighters who are in this battle against ISIS are receiving significant support and backing

from the United States, and its allies. But the big picture on the political picture, there is a lot of worry about what the future holds --

Hannah.

JONES: Ben, we appreciate your reports on this. Reporting there live from Beirut, in Lebanon. Thanks very much, indeed, Ben Wedeman.

Now, to other news, in three European country, will soon formally announce a plan that tries to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. Britain Germany and

France have officially set up a payment channel with Tehran, to circumvent U.S. sanctions on the country. Now, Germany's foreign minister says the

plan has been in the works since the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal last year. The European Union, we should say announced that

it fully supports the move. Let's bring in CNN Atika Shubert live in Berlin for us. Atika, this move is sure to infuriate the Trump

administration but I guess it signals how valuable this Iran deal is to the EU bloc.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, I mean what the EU is saying here is in absolute defiance of the Trump

administration's decision to scrap the Iran nuclear deal. As far as the EU is concerned, this is a deal that is not only still valid but needs to

exist to curb's Iran's nuclear weapons program. That's the view of the EU. Take a listen to what the Vice President of the EU Commission, Federica

Mogherini, had to say earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FEDERICA MOGHERINI, EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: The Europe union is fully behind the full implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran for the simple

reasons that we see it is working. There are 13 reports now, by the IEA, that Iran is fully compliant with its nuclear commitment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUBERT: So to try and keep this deal alive, it's created this new, what's called a Special Purpose Vehicle, but basically, the sort of trade exchange

that allows for European companies to continue trading with Iran and kind of bypass the possibility of U.S. sanctions. It's a work-around for U.S.

sanctions. The question is, is this going to work? It's not clear at this point who would be using it. It's open for companies. It is clearly an EU

initiative. It will be headed by apparently, by a German banker, based in France, and have a supervisory board overseen by the U.K., other EU

countries are also welcome to join.

[10:25:00] But it's not clear exactly how it is going to function yet. We are hoping to get more details, and an official announcement, out of the EU

foreign minister's meeting in Bucharest that's going on today -- Hannah.

JONES: OK, so we don't know yet who might actually -- which companies might actually want to use this, this payment channel, this exchange, as

you call it. Other than banking, are there other sectors that might be first in the queue?

SHUBERT: I think the first would probably be those things like medicines, humanitarian needs, those that are having a sort of bottleneck now to get

into Iran. But the kinds of big-ticket items that Iran might be hoping for, big companies like Boeing and Siemens, that seems very unlikely.

Those big companies have already said that they're stopping business with Iran, precisely because they fear U.S. sanctions.

JONES: All right, Atika Shubert live for us in Berlin. Thanks very much.

I'm live in London and you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come on the program, two huge foreign policy disputes, two huge deadlines fast

approaching. We'll see how U.S. President Donald Trump is facing critical challenges with China and Russia ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live in London. Welcome back.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake at high level talks in Washington today. China's top trade negotiator will meet with President

Donald Trump in just a few hours from now.

[10:30:00] He's trying to lay the ground work for a trade deal as a March 2 deadline fast approaches. Mr. Trump is threatening to impose $200 billion

in new tariffs on Chinese goods if these talks fail. He says no final deal can be reached until he meets with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping.

Well another big foreign policy challenge facing President Trump right now is a dispute with Russia over a key arms control pact. The U.S. could

begin withdrawing from the INF Treaty this weekend, as Moscow warns that such a move could trigger a fresh arms race. Let's bring in Fred Pleitgen

with all of the details on this live in Moscow for us. Fred, tell us about the arms treaty and its possible demise.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The INF treaty, the treaty on intermediate range nuclear forces, Hannah, it's been in power

basically since 1987. It was signed back then by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The U.S. for a while has been saying that it believes that

Russia has been cheating on the treaty. Because it modifies one of the missiles that it has, that puts it in the U.S., within the range that is

band by this treaty, the Russians deny that.

The two sides are trying to give it a last go at negotiations, but so far, what we're hearing from today, is that apparently, they've made pretty much

made no progress. Here's what we learned.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN (voice-over): After more than 30 years, the U.S. is set to pull out of a milestone nuclear disarmament agreement. The Treaty on

Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces, or INF. Washington is saying Russia is cheating.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We either bury our head in the sand, or we take common sense action in response to Russia's flagrant disregard

for the express terms of the INF treaty.

PLEITGEN: And this is the missile system that the U.S. says violates the INF, the nuclear capable 9M729. America says it falls within the

prohibited range of between 500 and 5,000 kilometers and must be destroyed if Russia wants to save the INF treaty.

Moscow denies the allegations, and claims the U.S. is the one breaching the deal. Russia's army even putting on a briefing, displaying the 9M729

system and claiming its range is within the limits of the INF.

LT. GEN. MIKHAIL MATVEEVSKY, RUSSIAN ARMY (through translator): Russia has implemented and continues to meticulously implement the requirements of the

treaty and does not allow for any violations to happen.

PLEITGEN: But journalists were only able to see the launch vehicle and container, not the actual missiles.

(on camera): The Russians say the reason why the rocket is longer than the predecessor, is not because they've increased the range, but simply because

they increased the size of the warhead which would be probably right here in the container.

(voice-over): The INF treaty was signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev aiming to eliminate land-based medium

ranged nukes. Today both Russia and the U.S. view the treaty as largely obsolete, because it constrains the two, while non-signatories like China

are free to field medium range nuclear weapons. Moscow claims it wants to try and turn the INF into a multilateral treaty to try to save it.

SERGEY RYABKOV, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: We are open to different ideas how to move things further forward. We do not exclude anything

beforehand.

PLEITGEN: Moscow says if the INF fails it could lead to a new arms race, and make the danger of nuclear conflict much higher, almost three decades

after the end of the cold war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: All right, let's get you up to speed now on some other stories that are on our radar.

Israeli military prosecutors have charged five soldiers with severely beating two handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees in the West

Bank. An indictment says some soldiers cheered and shouted out cries of happiness, as the prisoners were punched, kicked, and slapped. The

detainees were arrested in a military sweep after the killing of two Israeli soldiers a few weeks earlier.

Cuba's ambassador to Canada says Ottawa's decision to cut the diplomatic staff in Havana in half, because of health concerns, is quote,

incomprehensible. The staff reduction comes after Canada confirmed a 14th case of mysterious illness of employees and their family members in Cuba.

A year of negative headlines, privacy scandals and government scrutiny has not impacted Facebook's bottom line. In fact, profits soared in the last

quarter of 2018. To a record $6.9 billion. That's up 61 percent from just a year before.

[10:35:00] Saudi state media reports the government is wrapped up an anti- corruption probe recovering $106 billion in assets. The investigation saw dozens of Saudi Arabia's most high-profile citizens detained in a five-star

hotel in Riyadh, that was back in 2017.

Now, Walid Alhathloul is the brother of jailed Saudi women's rights activist Loujain. He's making a direct appeal to legendary artists, Mariah

Carey, who's performing in Saudi Arabia in the coming hours. He's asking her to sing "Don't Forget About Us" in honor of his sister, so the world

does not forget about her. Other activists have joined this call, asking celebrities to boycott performing in Saudi Arabia, all together. Walid has

since written about his sister's detainment and reported torture in Saudi Arabia. You can read all about that story on CNN.com.

All right, time to return now to one of our top stories this hour. And indeed, one of our top stories of the year. The last few years, you might

say as Brexit ticks ever closer, it seems the U.K. has perhaps misjudged the European Union. Europe's leaders are doubling down on their position,

saying new negotiations are not on the table. Now, a no-deal exit is looking like a very real possibility. And the U.K. needs to get ready.

Let's get over then to the European Parliament in Brussels, MEP Claude Moraes is standing by for us there. Thank you very much for joining us on

the program today, sir. I'm wondering about the prospects of any renegotiation that Theresa May might have with European counterparts and

possibly even ditching this Irish backstop all together which is what some of her MP's in Parliament certainly want.

CLAUDE MORAES, MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: I think ditching the Irish backstop is pretty much out of the question. I think opening the

withdrawal deal is pretty much out of the question. I think perhaps tinkering with this political declaration, which kind of goes on top, or

some kind of possibly even a kind of protocol, or some codicil to the withdrawal agreement. I think is possible, so a kind of figure leaf, if

you like. But the real fundamentals here, the fundamentals of keeping the backstop, having the insurance policy, not throwing Ireland under a bus.

You know, I'm pretty sure the EU 27 are going to stick with their unity, and they're not going to allow the withdrawal agreement proper to be

opened.

JONES: And this is the tricky point, the fact for Theresa May, or one of the many tricky points for her, if that she tries to reopen this withdrawal

agreement that took two years, of course, to actually agree in the first place, it might just be more than just the backstop is up for

renegotiation. What could the EU come back to the U.K. with and say we want more of this, rather than what was agreed beforehand?

MORAES: That's right. You put your finger on yet another reason why the withdrawal agreement won't be open, because if it is opened, it is open for

everyone. It is open for Spain on Gibraltar. It's open for other countries to renegotiate. So that's evidence that the withdrawal agreement

will not be opened properly.

So what Theresa May is doing it's kind of not rocket science. She's simply running down the clock. She's running things down to March the 29th, and

this is all about the Conservative Party mainly, it's about British politics, very, very tiresome for the rest of the European Union, very

irritating. And very worrying and anxious inducing for the citizens of the three million EU citizens in Britain, the Brits in Europe, many families

involved, businesses and so on, who are really anxious about this. But for them, running down the clock means that she is risking a no-deal. Britain

crashing out without a deal. Or on the other hand, trying to entice some Labour MP's to vote for this deal. Because it will pretty much be the same

deal. Or trying to get some Tories who she has successfully scared into voting for the original deal, with some tweaks, into really voting for what

was already there. So you know, it is a pretty, it's a pretty horrible kind of way to run down the clock.

JONES: Yes, you mentioned a couple of times this idea of running down the clock and indeed that's what many Theresa May's critics have accused her of

doing. But who is set to gain the most or lose the most from that? Because at the end of the day, Theresa May is being told by the British

Parliament that no-deal should be off the table, and presumably that's what the EU wants as well. So running down the clock might be beneficial to

both, and that eventually will get some kind of a deal.

[10:40:00] MORAES: But taking no-deal off the table is a misnomer. I mean, you can't take no-deal off the table. You can't legislate for no-

deal to be taken off the table. And the House of Commons taking no-deal off the table is a fantasy. No-deal is a state that you reach when you

have simply not reached a deal. You fall out of an arrangement, a deal, so that means that although the house of Commons said we don't want no-deal,

they can't decide that. It's a two-way process. So what is going to happen is we reached the no-deal scenario if Theresa May messes up her

running down the clock attempt.

Now, she may not mess up, she may get the numbers, she may get this across the line with a slightly grubby way of doing it, this anxiety inducing

really risky way of doing it. But if she doesn't, then of course, she risks taking on a major economy, into a no-deal scenario, which would be

hugely damaging for human beings all over the place, not just in Britain, and that's a bad situation. So yes, who wins? She might win. But it is a

very damaging process.

JONES: If you don't mind me asking, Claude, more a-more personal question I guess, come March 29, are your bags packed no matter what, given the fact

that you're a British MEP?

MORAES: Yes, absolutely. We're the least of anyone's problems. If it is a no-deal scenario, businesses and individuals, and all sorts of

indicators, will be so kind of taking up your time, the time of journalists, reporters, business people, that quite honestly, I don't think

anyone will really mind what's happening to politicians after March the 29th if we fall out with no-deal. So honestly, we are pretty much OK.

I think the real worry will be falling out, without no-deal, no transition period, I think that's a risk, it's not project fear anymore. I think it's

the reality. And I think we're in an extraordinary situation where nobody is really estimating what that means. And I think, I think that's my real

worry, particularly citizens, the three million EU citizens in the U.K., many of whom will be watching CNN. Those are the people I'm really

concerned about and as I say, we're not really calibrating that at the moment. But we may get a deal, and if we do, there of course, there'll be

another set of issues, and I think that's probably what will be reported on March 29th.

JONES: And of course, if we don't get a deal, then the likes of you, sir, you might find yourself in a slightly more precarious situation trying to

get out of the EU back home to the U.K. But we thank you very much in the meantime for sparing the time for us today, Claude Moraes, live for us in

Brussels. Thank you, sir.

Now, live from London, you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still ahead on the program, deadly cold, has engulfed parts of the United States, bringing

historically cold temperatures to millions of Americans. We're live from Chicago, coming up.

But first, within the misty mountains of northern Japan, a legion of so- called snow monsters are lurking over a town. But much longer will they be there?

[10:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. Live from London. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones. Welcome back.

All this week, CNN has been looking at the winter wonderland that is Japan's northern region of Tohoku. Today we visit a curious attraction

that may be in danger of disappearing because of climate change.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Japan's Tohoku region, one of the snowiest places on planet earth. In the Yamagata prefecture,

nothing is spared in the winter. Even the trees. The Japanese call them "juhyo" or snow monsters. Tourists flock to the village of Zao Onsen each

winter to catch a glimpse of this unique phenomenon before spring when they melt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's impressive beyond description.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It is difficult to describe this amazing scenery. I'm moved beyond words.

WEIR: Others come Zao Onsen for the skiing. Japan has some of the most famous ski resorts in the world. Some, like Nagano or Niseko, are very

well known. Hideto Ito hopes to add this place with the 37 lifts and 12 courses to that list.

HIDETO ITO, SKIER (through translator): Snow here is called juhyo, Japan powder snow is known around the world. The quality of the snow here is

dry, with low humidity, it's less wet.

WEIR: Ito is from here, and practically grew up on skis. Zao Onsen's monster runs made for the perfect training ground.

ITO (through translator): Snow monsters are the symbol of this town.

WEIR: Beyond seasonal changes, there is another threat to the snow monsters. Global warming. Many say it is affecting the climate here, and

that the frost is slowly receding to higher ground.

ITO (through translator): There are fewer snow monsters here than there were years and years ago. That's a concern.

WEIR: While experts' race to find a solution, Ito also wants visitors to hurry, too. Tohoku snow only lasts so long, and no one knows what next

winter will bring.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Live from London, you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, we are live in Chicago, as bitter and biting temperatures sweep across many

parts of the United States. How the extreme weather is impacting millions, that's next.

[10:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. Live from London. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones. Welcome back.

A deep and dangerous cold snap is currently gripping parts of the United States. More than 200 million Americans have been impacted by the below

freezing temperatures this week. Some cities are even colder than parts of the Antarctic. Meanwhile the bitter cold is being blamed for at least 11

deaths. Schools are closed across huge swaths of the country. Thousands of flights have been canceled and the U.S. Postal Service has stopped

deliveries entirely in several states. Our Ryan Young is braving the blistering temperatures in Chicago. Goodness me, Ryan, I hope you're able

to get inside and somewhere warm in between all your live reports. We've seen some incredible scenes. It looks pretty incredible where you are now.

How cold is it?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It feels colder today than it did yesterday. We've been dealing with wind chills more than 50 below. This

has been constant. And in fact, what we have now is -- we have a lot of onlookers who wanted to come out here, because when you look back in this

direction, you can just see this. This is a picture as seen -- this is what we know of the water here is warmer than the air. So, it creates this

fog. The Midwest is getting hit by a heavy punch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG (voice-over): A brutal arctic freeze. Sweeping over nearly a quarter of the country. Bringing the coldest air in a generation to parts

of the Midwest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's freezing cold. My face, my toes, everything.

YOUNG: With a low temperature of negative 23, and a wind chill of negative 52, the windy city's temperatures lower than parts of Antarctica and

Alaska. Causing giant ice breaks to blanket the river and a wall of ice steam to form a long Lake Michigan and across the skyline. The dangerously

cold weather even showing its strength inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The steam froze around where the leaks are in my front door.

YOUNG: In Minnesota a windchill of 65 below zero. These ultra-marathoners crossing the finish line with their paces fully covered in ice. First

responders across the country forced to brave the treacherous conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The temperature not only affects the manpower but also the hose lines freeze up instantly.

YOUNG: Firefighters in Indiana, covered in ice as they battle this house fire in negative 22-degree weather.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG: Look at this.

So, just to show you this, it has been so cold out here, for the last few hours, one of the things they're trying to do is keep people in warming

centers, especially those who are homeless.

One heart-warming story that we've learned about, from the "Chicago Tribune", is one man, or one good Samaritan, decided to pay for 70 hotel

rooms, for homeless people. It gets hard to talk out here, you can imagine being out here for quite a long period of time. There have been people

who've decided not to go inside, and I can't understand that. But at the same time, they're trying to make sure that tonight, people don't think

this is over, but try to get them out of here, so we don't have more deaths in the area.

JONES: Yes, absolutely. Ryan, I mean, it looks beautiful, where you are, but like you said, I mean we can't really understand why anyone would

choose to be outside unless they were working. But then you mentioned about the homeless as well. I mean, this is a huge logistical challenge

for all affected areas, and for the authorities in charge, right?

YOUNG: I was going to bring up one other thing. That is absolutely right. And on top of all of that, you have people who want to take pictures of

this scene, and they come out here, and we've even seen people try to do dance video, but it is too cold. So they're trying to make sure that

people understand that you can have frostbite if you're dealing with situations like this.

JONES: All right, Ryan Young, go inside, get warm, thank you for your reporting on this.

YOUNG: Absolutely. Thank you.

JONES: Now, before we go, on the program this hour. In our "Parting Shots", a community that came together in the Netherlands, with a marathon

church service, to keep one family from being deported. This is a story we've covered quite extensively. The church itself secured a safe future

for a family from Armenia who had their asylum request denied initially by the Dutch government.

Now, a law in the country prevents police from entering a church while a service is taking place. So more than a thousand people held round the

clock services for three months, whilst this family was sheltered inside. Now in the end, we are delighted to say that a political deal has been

reached.

[10:55:00] And now, the family, including three children, has a new place to call home. Wonderful story there.

Well, whether it's keeping up with the cold, or covering the fight against ISIS, our team around the world is covering all of the stories for you and

making them available. You can find them on our Facebook page. And the address is Facebook.com/CNNconnect. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones, thank you so

much for watching. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. See you soon.

END