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European Countries Set Up Trade Channel with Iran; On the Front Lines of the Battle against ISIS in Syria; Sex Trafficking and the "Super Bowl". Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 1, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, the Trump administration continues to insist on great progress being made with North Korea in those nuclear talks. This is all despite what the intelligence chiefs would be saying. And now it seems to suggest the U.S. is ready to offer something Pyongyang has wanted for years.

Donald Trump boasts it would be the biggest deal ever made but the U.S. and China trade talks still have a long way to go in a very short time. And if you can't beat them, just be run away around them. Some of Europe's top economies think they know how to avoid U.S. sanctions when they would do business with Iraq.

Well, a senior U.S. diplomat says the United States would be ready to formally end the Korean War. The special envoy to North Korea Stephen Beigun made his first of the comments Thursday at Stanford University.


STEPHEN BEIGUN, UNITED STATES SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA: President Trump is ready to end this war. It is over. It is done. We are not going to invade North Korea. We are not seeking the topple North Korean regime. I am absolutely convinced and more importantly the President of the United States is convinced that it's time to move past 70 years of war and hostility on the Korean Peninsula. There is no reason for this conflict to persist any longer.


VAUSE: But that move would be in response to North Korea scrapping as its nuclear and plutonium facilities which Beigun says has been promised by the North Koreans. He was quick to add though, President Trump would not withdraw troops from South Korea as a concession to Kim Jong-un. Beigun is traveling to Seoul on Sunday for talks with South Korean officials before meeting North Korean negotiators. And we're learning new details about the timing and location of the second U.S. North Korea summit.

Let's go live down in CNN's Paula Hancocks who is in Seoul. So, Paula, we'll talk some of the details in a moment, but first, how significant are these remarks that we're hearing from the U.S. Special Envoy? Are they seemed very much in line with what the U.S. President has been talking about in terms of progress or at odds with the assessment coming from near the U.S. Intelligence Community?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this is this is a lot more detailed than we are used to hearing from the Trump administration. So in that respect, it is significant the fact that Beigun has said as clearly as he could that President Trump would be ready to declare an end to the Korean War.

Now, that's significant because it's something that North Korea wants. It's something that North and South Korea said that they were going to work towards. They wanted to try and get it done by the end of last year but that didn't happen. So this really gives us an idea of the sort of concessions that President Trump is likely to be willing to give to North Korea at that next summit.

Now, also we did hear from Beigun that North Korea was willing to dismantle its plutonium and its uranium enrichment facilities saying that there had to be corresponding measures from the U.S. He said that the next time he meets with the North Koreans, he will be finding out he hopes exactly what those corresponding measures are.

Now, we know he is here this weekend and he will likely after that be meeting the North Korean so we may have a little more detail then. John?

VAUSE: OK. Now, we'll learn more details about this second U.S. North Korea summit including the likely location.

HANCOCKS: That's right. This is from a senior administration official and also a second source familiar with the -- with this saying that Danang in Vietnam does look as though it is the most likely at this point saying that they are putting plans in place. Plans are yet to be finalized. But that is what we are working on at this point.

We already heard from the U.S. President Donald Trump that it was going to be the end of February. He said to reporters that it's no secret where this is going to be. It seems everyone knows again suggesting that it is in fact in Vietnam. So this is -- this is what we're working on at this point and Donald Trump saying that he would have an announcement probably or potentially during the State of the Union speech next week as to the exact date. End of February is what we know at this point.

VAUSE: OK. Drip by drip by drip we learn a little bit more each day. Paula, thank you. It was awkward and not entirely convincing but the U.S. President tried anyway to wallpaper over the very public differences he has with his intelligence chiefs on almost every major security issue from Isis to North Korea. He says they were misquoted except their testimony before Congress are said live on television and transcripts are public record.

On Thursday, they all met at the White House. The President claiming everyone is on the same page and in on good terms.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President did you talk to your intelligence chiefs today about the displeasure you had with their ---

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did and they said that they were totally misquoted and they were totally -- it was thinking out of context. And what I do is I'd suggest that you call them. They said it was fake news.


[01:05:09] VAUSE: CNN Political Analyst and White House Correspondent to New York Times Michael Shear is with us this hour from Washington. So Michael, you know, it seems what we just heard then for Donald Trump was his way was trying to mend fences with the intelligence community, pretend there's no friction, blame the old out of context line.

He also tweeted this. "Just concluded a great meeting with my Intel team in the Oval Office who told me that what they said on Tuesday at the Senate hearing was mischaracterized by the media and we are very much in agreement on Iran, ISIS, North Korea, etcetera. Their testimony was distorted press. I would suggest you read the complete testimony from Tuesday a false narrative is so bad for our country. I value our intelligence community blah, blah, blah. All on the same page."

We don't have to read the complete testimony because it was seen live on television.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And look, I think everybody that's watching this drama could be excused if they had whiplash by now because you know, today is a sort of kumbayah moment with the intelligence chiefs followed a you know, a day 24 hours of absolutely trashing them.

You know, right and left and claiming that they were naive and saying that they were all wrong and so you know, you wonder what happened in between. I mean that the logical thing is that people said to him this is crazy. You can't have a President of the United States trashing all of his senior intelligence and law enforcement people.

And so you know what you get then is this kind of strange you know, kind of makeup session. But it doesn't even work because as you said the -- it's not that we're taking them out of context, we all saw everything they said in context. And let's face it, none of the intelligence agencies have retracted a word that they said before the congressional committee, not one. So there isn't -- I mean, you know, the president can say what he wants to say the fact that they were taken out of context but they weren't and we all know that.

VAUSE: One national security threat where there is a vast difference between the President and the intelligence agencies is North Korea. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We currently asses that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities, it is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities.

TRUMP: And the big thing is it will be a total denuclearization which is already starting taking place. They're going to do it. They're going to start immediately.


VAUSE: Keep in mind, we're inching closer to a second U.S. North Korea summit, but before the first one, Donald Trump bragged he didn't need to prepare. So you know, after that summit, the North Koreans walked away with you know, legitimacy and an excuse for Russia and China to begin easing up on sanctions. You know, they got the (INAUDIBLE) as well and they gave up nothing in return.

If the President really believes at this point in time tremendous progress is being made toward evening denuclearization, this time what, could they walk away with U.S. troops being withdrawn from the peninsula and that has some very serious consequences.

SHEAR: Right. I mean, I think my sense is that were probably thankfully a little bit far away from actually withdrawing all U.S. troops from South Korea. I think though that what we are seeing is what we've seen for two years from this president is that he is -- he believes that he can define reality the way he wants to by simply saying something. And that they have worked when he was a television star and he was starting his own scripted television show, and it may have worked as a -- as a real estate developer where you know let's face it, you sort of set the terms of the deals that you want to do, and you don't do the deals that you don't want to do.

And the problem is when you're dealing in foreign affairs and you have an adversary like North Korea, it doesn't work to simply declare that the North Koreans are in fact beginning to denuclearize because the truth is the truths again.

And so I mean, you know, I think the expressions of caution that you heard from the -- from the national security officials, the foreign policy officials during that hearing was them trying to send a message to the rest of the world that look, the United States government understands and is looking at the North Korea situation with a clear eye. The problem is the president doesn't want to send that message as well.

VAUSE: OK, so not only is there this disagreement on existing real security threats but there is disagreement on imaginary ones as well, like the crisis on the southern border. The questions that no one can actually see apart from the president and he's adamant that because there is this crisis, this immigration crisis, he needs $5 billion you know, for his wall which he says had better be part of a spending bill being negotiated right now by congressional lawmakers. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [01:10:00] TRUMP: February 15th, the committee will come back and if they don't have a wall, I don't even want to waste my time reading what they have because it's a waste of time.


VAUSE: So if he doesn't get the $5 billion for a solution in search of a problem, we'll look again another government shutdown as a very real possibility.

SHEAR: Yes, I think so. I mean, look, I think that he's doing exactly what everybody on all sides Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill and all of the observers in Washington were hoping exactly the thing that he would not do which is to sort of meddle in the middle of this negotiation.

Sensitive as it is, the Republicans and Democrats have their own disagreements about how best to secure the border but everybody thinks they could figure a way to compromise if the president didn't meddle like this and didn't you know, make ultimatums like this. I think you know, look, anything's possible in this -- in this White House in this period that we're living.

I still strongly believe that the President will have a difficult time shutting the government down again even at the end of this period because I don't think the Republicans will go along with him. I think the Republicans in the Congress will revolt before they will shut the government down again. And I think you could even see a situation where he tries to veto something and they override a veto because they're that frustrated.

And so that -- then the question is what does he do and I think the thinking in Washington is that at that point he gives up and declares a national emergency legally dubious as it might be and tries to do it that way.

VAUSE: We're almost at time, Michael, but to the overall picture here, is the last bigger question about what happens for the next two years. How does this President work with these intelligence chiefs and how does he make informed decisions when it comes to issues of national security? You know, for example he was asked if he still has confidence in the various heads of the agencies. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still have confidence in Gina Haspel and Dan Coats to give you advise?

TRUMP: No, I disagree with certain things that they said. I think I'm right. That time will prove that from -- time will prove me right probably.


VAUSE: You know, the most generous take on that answer I think is yes maybe as unlikely as it seems. Yes, maybe. You know, Donald Trump might actually be right over time but the intelligence services operate in real time on the information they have right then and there and that's how they make their assessments.

SHEAR: You know, look, it is not do the presidents disagree with their advisors, their military, and intelligence advisors. That has happened in the past. It will happen again. The question is, is there a back and forth? Is there a level of trust so that you know, on both sides the clients, so to speak the President and the and the deliverers of intelligence in the various communities can you know, trust that there's a relationship that can go forward. And I think that's what everybody in Washington worries isn't the case.

VAUSE: We'll see how it goes. Michael, thank you so much. Good to see you.

SHEAR: Sure. President Trump has an upbeat assessment that a historic trade deal can be reached with China before (INAUDIBLE) jump from ten to 25 percent in March. Trump met with trade negotiators after two days of talks. According to Chinese media, Beijing has agreed to increase U.S. imports but the President says nothing will be final until he meets with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and that could happen at the end of the month.


TRUMP: We're going to go into everything. You probably saw this morning I put out a statement. We're going into everything. This isn't a very small deal we're talking. This is going to be a very big deal or it's going to be a deal that will just postpone for a little while. But we've been dealing with China, we've had a great relationship -- I have a great relationship with President Xi. The relationship of my people to Chinese representatives has been very good. They're negotiating now.


VAUSE: OK, CNN Steven Jiang joins us once again live from Beijing. So, Steven, you know, others see doom and gloom, the U.S. President he sees rainbows and lollipops and reason for optimism even though his own chief negotiator says there's not even a draft framework for agreement and there is still much do, a lot to do in a very short period of time.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING SENIOR PRODUCER: That's only right, John. But there's never be any doubt and President Trump just confirmed again that any final deal would have to be signed out by him and President Xi. So that's why this big confirmation out of this latest round that is he is going to meet Mr. XI later this month is very important.

This is something according to many analysts the Chinese had wanted all along because they feel by putting these two men in the same room would allow President Xi to present a stronger case for China in person. And given that President Trump has always publicly very much value his friendship with President Xi, the Chinese feel Xi may use that personal connection to produce a more favorable, a better deal for China.

Now that's why there is this cautious optimism now. And also we've been talking about this for days that there seems to be enough political will from both sides, from both leaders to see this deal happen obviously for their own reasons. You know, for Mr. Xi it's a markedly slowing economy and for President Trump obviously a host of issues so he could really use some good news, John.

[01:15:06] VAUSE: The President is also indicated on Thursday that even if there is this landmark deal, some U.S. tariffs may actually remain in place which seems that is an outcome which would not be greeted very warmly there in Beijing.

JIANG: Well, it's -- right now, publicly, the Chinese government has put a very positive spin on the progress made out of this latest round. And if you read the statements released by both sides after the talks, they really having addressing a series of long-standing issues head-on and ticking off all the right boxes.

You know, we are talking about intellectual property protection, a forced to technology transfer, a cyber-theft and market access -- market access in China for U.S. companies, that et cetera.

So, there seems to be this momentum going. And the Chinese as we've been saying have been trying to push through this new law on foreign investment that would address some of many of these issues.

And on the front of reducing the huge trade deficit, the U.S. has with China, there is also another sign of goodwill if you owe the Chinese have just agreed to buy, at least, 5 million tons of American soybeans, something Trump says would be very good for American farmers.

So, I think right now, that's why there is this cautious optimism because both sides seem to be saying, hey, we are going to keep talking on these very tough long-standing issues and if both leaders on board, we would make something happen before the March 1st deadline. John.

VAUSE: OK, Steven, we appreciate the update. Maybe it's a little bit over soon. And seems to be getting on for a very long time. Thanks for being with us. Well, in Washington, Donald Trump declared victory over ISIS in Syria where the fighting is actually taking place. The view is a little different.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commander (INAUDIBLE), 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.


VAUSE: An exclusive look inside one of the final battles against ISIS. That's ahead. Also, with a no deal Brexit looking more likely bringing doom and gloom and looming Armageddon, how are everyday British dealing with such an uncertain future.


VAUSE: Well, Venezuela's self-declared head of state says his family has been harassed by troops loyal to his rival, the sitting president, Nicolas Maduro. Juan Guaido, who says the paramilitary forces tried to enter their home of his wife's family on Thursday.

During an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, he said it was a clear attempt at intimidation. In that same interview, Guaido refuse to rule out accepting U.S. military intervention.


[01:20:15] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Where do you stand and have you asked the President of the United States for any military support in your struggle?

JUAN GUAIDO, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF VENEZUELA (through translator): In terms of taking decisions, even though this is a dictatorship, the mayor -- the Venezuelan people wants to advance with whatever pressure is needed so that we can finally end the dictatorship at this moment.

AMANPOUR: So, I just want you to tell me whether you would support a U.S. military intervention if Maduro does not leave peacefully.

GUAIDO: We are in Venezuela. Here, we, in Venezuela, we're doing everything to be able to put as much pressure as possible so that we do not get to that kind of a scenario in which nobody would wish to have.


VAUSE: The senior ranks of Venezuela's military are currently backing Maduro. But Guaido has been courting the generals, urging them to switch sides.

Brexit still going nowhere. U.K. Parliament, once the British Prime Minister Theresa May to renegotiate, come back with a better deal. The E.U. still has its heels dug in not going to budge an inch. And caught in the middle of all of this, the British public. CNN's Nic Robertson went out to find out what the world on the street is.




BERCOW: Order, order.

ROBERTSON: About 66 million of us. They, the U.K.'s M.P.'s are --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not trying hard enough.

ROBERTSON: While we, the citizens are --



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Extremely frustrated.

ROBERTSON: We picked them, so how has it come to this? In a word Brexit, they gave us the toughest question of the generation. So we did our bid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This means that the U.K. has voted to leave the European Union.

ROBERTSON: Then they did this.

DAVID CAMERON, FORMER PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Well, I'll tender my resignation as Prime Minister.

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Her Majesty, the Queen has asked me to form a new government.

ROBERTSON: Then came here, talked a lot for two years, and this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This government has failed our country.

ROBERTSON: In fact, a lot of this.

MAY: He listens to the answers to the questions. He, he wouldn't have to repeat the question.

ROBERTSON: So bad, the Queen had this message for them and us at Christmas. "Seek out the common ground." She repeated it again last week. The idea may be taking root.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not just in these House but across the country, there must be an effort to build consensus around the deal.

ROBERTSON: With no Brexit deal in sight, the burden of leadership on them is beginning to show.

ANNA SOUBRY, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: That too many people are actually putting their party before their country, and that can't be right. This is a huge crisis, it's the biggest decision we've made since the Second World War.

ROBERTSON: Not since the Suez Crisis in 1956, or the miners' strike in the early eighties. Have they or us, been so riven? Veteran politicians are urging reason within their own ranks. OLIVER LETWIN, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, UNITED KINGDOM: It will be the first time when we have consciously taken a risk on behalf of our nation and terrible things have happened to real people in our nation because of that risk and we will not be able to argue that it was someone else's fault.

ROBERTSON: If realism is taking root, no doubt the Queen and many others will be happy. Even so, there will likely be more of this to come from them.

BERCOW: Order. Order.

ROBERTSON: And more of this from us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very angry, very anxious.


ROBERTSON: For sure, time is running out very soon. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

VAUSE: Well, the man responsible for keeping British parliamentary debates in some kind of semblance of, "order", well, that's the Speaker of the House of Commons. And that task is getting a whole lot more challenging when it comes to Brexit. Speaker John Bercow spoke exclusively to CNN about how he actually gets it all done.


BERCOW: The best made of most visible function of the speaker is to chair in the chamber, to chair Prime Minister's questions, to chair other debates, to chair the delivery of ministerial announcements. And in that capacity, I'm a referee.

If the Speaker is sort are so a person who is going to be cowed or intimidated by a ministerial rant or a letter sent by way of complaint, well that person isn't fit to be Speaker. So, I hope I always treat people with respect but I'm not going to be intimidated by some moaning minister in any government.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: What do you think are the greatest challenges that you face?

BERCOW: There is a limited amount of time, you can't choose every topic. I have procedure advisers who guide me. What needs to be aired, what can be further teased out of the government if it's selected?

Does an amendment let us say have a large number of signatories? And if so, that might make it worthy of selection? So, those are challenges. I wouldn't say that they're fiendishly difficult or complicated, but they absorb ones energy. What can you do in your role as speaker if the public are feeling disillusioned or perhaps disenfranchised by divisive politics? I suppose I would just encourage members in so far as they need encouragement to do what they think is right in terms both of voice and of vote. It's not for the Speaker, let's say in the context to Brexit, to prescribe one route or another. And I think the record shows that I've always been particularly keen for example to give a voice to the minority or dissident voices in the House of Commons rather than in any sense to side with the majority.

I think the speaker's role is sometimes just to stand up for the institution of the House of Commons and the principle of parliamentary, democracy.

NOBILO: There is a bright spotlight than usual on Parliament at the moment. Does it concern you that the impassioned debate and inability to find consensus might be affecting how Parliament's seen around the world?

BERCOW: It is a concern that in grappling with the biggest current issue facing us, Brexit. No resolution of the matter has yet been attained. It is a concern, it isn't something that the speaker can determine. The Speaker can try to help the House to decide on such issues and give it the freedom to breathe if I can put it that way.

NOBILO: When the Commons is at its most boisterous, even raucous, how difficult is it to keep control?

BERCOW: If something is going on too long, you sometimes just have to interrupt, say, order, order. The British rather than the war and peace version is what is required. We cannot hear from the honorable gentleman from the great language and sometimes a member will say, "Oh, but my points are very important point, Mr. Speaker." And I say, "Yes, every point made in this chamber is important, but there is a limited amount of time available."

NOBILO: Do you feel that weight of history when you conduct your daily duties?

BERCOW: The truth is that it was a very perilous enterprise to stand for Speaker before the democratic age came upon us. That does enable me to view the woes and challenges which afflict and confront the House of Commons of which if all truth be told, Bianca, periodically afflict and confront me. That is to say, whatever else happens to me, I'm not likely to lose my head.


VAUSE: And that was the U.K. Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, speaking to CNN's. Well, a workaround which is also an act of defiance. The big three European economy and their new way of doing business with Iran to avoid U.S. sanctions a clear message to Washington.


[01:30:34] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour. Sources say U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will meet in Danang, Vietnam in late February. The June summit in Singapore last year ended with a commitment from Kim to work toward complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. But negotiators appear to have stalled -- negotiations rather appeared to stall since then.

Donald Trump says his intelligence chiefs were simply misquoted and taken out of context when they publicly contradicted him on the fall of ISIS, North Korea's nuclear intentions and other security issues. The only problem is their testimony was live and their written assessments are public record.

The President remains optimistic a trade deal with China can be reached by the end of the month. Chinese media report progress during the two days of talks in Washington with China apparently agreeing to accept more U.S. imports. U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods are set to jump from 10 to 25 percent by March.

The three biggest economies in European has opened a new payment system which does not use U.S. dollars when trading with Iran. It's called INSTEX, short of Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. And it means German, French and British companies can continue to do business with Iran without the threat of being hit by U.S. sanctions.

It's been in the works for a number of months, ever since the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran. The final version, though, is less ambitious than originally planned.

Joining me now from Palo Alto in California, Stanford University professor Cecile Alduy, a specialist in contemporary European politics.

Cecile -- thanks for being with us.

You know, initially this payment system was intended to essentially match Iranian oil and gas exports going out to, you know, wherever they bought from, you know, purchases coming in from the E.U. -- goods that the Iranians wanted. That hasn't worked out, at least not yet.

For example, you know, it's unlikely to deal with big trades involving Iran's oil. Does that negate the whole point of all this? Because you know, was it done because of logistic reasons or did they deliberately scale back?

CECILE ALDUY, PROFESSOR, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: I think that they wanted the safest route which was to first ensure that humanitarian health, medicine, food would be able to transit to Iran and that would be a first step to then establish the system that eases the euro and not the dollar to establish trade with Iran and therefore rebuke Trump's policy when he unilaterally withdrew from the deal with Iran.

So I think it's actually maybe the safest route rather than confront the United States straightforwardly and (INAUDIBLE).

VAUSE: So what -- the waters, testing it all, see how it works, see how Washington reacts and how this all plays out?

ALDUY: Yes. It's like baby steps in front of someone at the helm of the U.S. economy who can be unpredictable in his reaction. I think it's also gathering support within the European Union before launching a full-scale version of INSTEX.

And symbolically speaking, it is very important that the U.K., Germany and France were able to, you know, gather their strength and impose potentially to the U.S. this common front and circumvent sanctions by the American government to continue trade with Iran.

VAUSE: Well, the U.S. President again on Thursday insisted Iran a bad actor and that nuclear deal is just bad. Here's what he said.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Iran is a threat. I think it's a very big threat. And I think I did a great thing when I terminated the ridiculous Iran nuclear deal.


VAUSE: And then we now have, you know, this new sort of payment system which is, you know, a message of defiance being sent to Donald Trump. Listen to what the British foreign secretary had to say.


JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: This is a clear, practical demonstration that we remain firmly committed to the historic 2015 nuclear deal struck with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for as long as Iran keeps implementing it fully.


VAUSE: So there's a couple of things here. So clearly, you know, this message to Trump about where the Europeans stand when it comes to this nuclear deal. But there's also this message being sent to the Iranians as well, which almost seems more important.

[01:34:56] ALDUY: Yes. I think that it is a message directed at different -- different kinds of constituencies and rivals and, or enemies. You know, there's a message towards the United States, message to Iran as we hold you accountable for respecting the deal even though the United States have withdrawn from it.

So it's a strong message also toward the Iranian government to continue to navigate this thin line between, you know, being, you know, of course an enemy as well as a partner for, you know, trade at least.

And it's also a message towards Europe itself saying that if we are -- you know, able to unite, we could have a common front and a foreign policy that has teeth. VAUSE: Yes. It's interesting how this has now left the United States

isolated when it comes to the whole Iranian nuclear issue.

And even if this is sort of smaller scaled-down version of the payment system, the U.S. is far from (INAUDIBLE)? Here's part of a statement which the State Department issued on Thursday.

"As the President has made clear, entities that continue to engage in sanctionable activity involving Iran risk severe consequences that could include losing access to the U.S. financial system and the ability to do business with the United States or U.S. companies."

You know, that's a pretty big threat at the end of the day. At this point is this something that the U.S. is likely to follow through on when it comes to, you know, what countries which I guess in the past, before Donald Trump, you know, we've seen as friends and traditional allies?

ALDUY: Yes. I don't think it is going to be followed through at least towards France, Germany and the U.K. for huge partners with the U.S. There's an interdependence that they cannot destroyed by that.

That being said, I think it is really a show of -- of muscles here on both sides. The European countries that were quoted are trying to show that they will stand firm, whatever the unilateral decisions of the U.S. might be in their effort to stabilize the region and provide those, you know, humanitarian help. But also continue to build ties that are economic rather than political with Iran.

So this -- this kind of bullying attitude of the American government has actually encountered some kind of push back from the European countries and they were able to rally together and show strength.

VAUSE: Yes. And this is the first manifestation, I guess, of sort of a tangible, you know, result of that push back.

Cecile Alduy there at Stanford, we appreciate you being with us. Thanks so much.

ALDUY: Thank you.

VAUSE: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to make it official. The U.S. is withdrawing from a Cold War nuclear treaty with Russia. Washington says a new Russian missile violates the 30-year-old treaty on intermediate range nuclear missiles. Moscow denies that and accuses the U.S. of actually breaching the deal.

Both sides agree the treaty is virtually obsolete and leaves other countries including China free to develop medium range nuclear weapons. Any new treaty will leave a new U.S.-Russia arms race.

Well now, to a CNN exclusive in the last stand of ISIS in Syria, once a formidable force now besieged and retreating. But as CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman reports from the front lines, the terror group is not completely gone. A warning here -- some viewers will find images of his report graphic. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They're planning their next move and the final showdown with the last remnants of ISIS. Commander Javen Simko (ph) of 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 is left of it.

"With the help of artillery and air base, we were able to take control of this place," this soldier tells me. Cameraman Gabriel (INAUDIBLE) who shot this exclusive video for CNN. The soldier vows within 10 days God willing it is finished.

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.

[01:40:05] The next day starts with a mortar bombardment. The adjacent town of Marazda (ph), 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 to and tens of thousands who have fled the fighting.

"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."

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 he pleads not 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.

Ben Wedeman, CNN -- Beirut.


VAUSE: Five years, one text message at a time. A Kurdish asylum seeker writes an incredible account of life in a notorious, strange (ph) detention camp winning not just critical acclaim but the country's richest literary prize. That story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: We don't often report on the winners of literary prizes here but then rarely has there been a winner like Behrouz Boochani. The 35-year-old Iranian Kurd has been held on Manus Island for almost six years -- Australia's notorious offshore detention center.

Boochani was seeking asylum under Australian law though anyone caught trying to reach the country by small boat is sent it to a detention center in the Pacific. Once there he used his old iPhone to write about his experience sending one text at a time in Farsi to a translator living in Sydney Omid Tofighian (ph). [014501] All those years later and "No Friend but the Mountains" was just awarded the Victorian Prize of literature, the richest literary prize in Australia.

Well, for more on this, Omid Tofighian actually joins us now from Sydney. He's a lecturer at the University of Sydney and the guy who translated the book.

Congratulations to you as well. I guess there must be a lot of satisfaction knowing all those years, all those texts from WhatsApp were worth it. And I'm not talking about the literary prize here but rather all the attention is now focusing on Australia's very harsh immigration system.

OMID TOFIGHIAN, TRANSLATOR: Absolutely. For me it is probably the most important thing that I'll ever do in my life. And to be quite frank, if I had to do it all again, I certainly would. And I'm looking forward to continuing to do this in the future.

VAUSE: And just back up here because the decision by Boochani to actually write the book via text messages on WhatsApp was a very strategic one he made from the beginning because he was worried -- if a hard copy was found with him on Manus Island, there would be a very good chance it would be taken at some point and he would never see it again.

TOFIGHIAN: The conditions on Manus Island for refugees who are detained are extremely brutal. So in the beginning they weren't allowed to -- to even have pen and paper. So until about 2016, towards the end of 2016, telephones were also illegal.

So he had them smuggled in. They were confiscated a number of times but he managed to keep getting another phone in and he began writing just on the very first weeks that he was in the camp.

VAUSE: Yes. He's been in a couple of interviews and in one of them Boochani talks about this literary award saying, "It is a paradoxical feeling. I don't want to celebrate this achievement while I still see many innocent people suffering around me.

Give us freedom. We have committed no crime. We're only seeking asylum."

How much embarrassment has this caused the Australian government? TOFIGHIAN: That's really hard to gauge. I think CERTAINLY

internationally and in cultural and literary and intellectual circles, it's a massive embarrassment on anyone who does this to other human beings and feels that they're doing the right thing. Feels like they're basically, you know, the law or rules and regulations that are constructed in a particular point in time, for particular purpose.

It meant (ph) to be about humanity, the laws and rules and regulations about humanity is just ridiculous to imagine. So whether the government actually changes its policies and actually bends or bows down or bends to the weight of this kind of scrutiny is another thing.

VAUSE: Yes. You know, in their decision to award this prize to Boochani, the judges wrote this. "Boochani produced a stunning work of art and critical theory which evades simple description. At its heart though, it is a detailed critical study and description of what Boochani terms Manus Prison Theory. He provides a new understanding both of Australia's actions and of Australia itself."

Ok well, you say this story is getting a lot of attention internationally. Will this book itself bring maybe a new level of understanding for the plight of asylum seekers among Australians, especially the ones who are sent to places like, you know, Manus Island?

TOFIGHIAN: Certainly, that's the case. I think a lot of people, first of all don't really understand the depths and also the brutality of what is happening in these camps.

So on one level, it's gone to basically convey the systematic torture that these men (ph) that have to live under for all of these years. And also this -- this kind of vicious, and what Behrouz and I often refer to as a new form of neocolonial form of violence.

On top of that I think this is something about refugees all over the world, displaced and exiled people all over the world or even the perception that these people are weak, needy, passive and -- just -- just looking for -- nothing more than just a -- safety and protection and freedom. That's one interpretation.

But these are also people with really distinct skills, viewpoints, understandings and a whole range of different elements. So his is basically changing the way a lot of people perceive refugees in general.

VAUSE: Thanks for being with us. And thanks for what you've done. Maybe you will make a difference.

TOFIGHIAN: That's what we're going to try to ensure.


And Bouchani recorded an acceptance speech from Manus Island, appropriate it seems, he talked about the power of words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BEHROUZ BOOCHANI, AUTHOR: Literature has the power to give us freedom. Yes, it is true. I have been in the cage for years but throughout this time my mind had always been producing words.

[01:49:51] And these words have taken me across borders, taken me overseas and to unknown places. I truly believe words are more powerful than the fences of this place, this prison.


VAUSE: He added this award proved words have power to challenge inhumane systems and structures.

We'll take a short break.

When we come back, the Super Bowl is finally in town and the football and fun are all just getting started but has a dark side as well. Ahead the efforts to prevent sex trafficking on game weekend and beyond.


VAUSE: Well, the party is just getting started in Atlanta ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl but the on-field battle for U.S. football supremacy between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams -- that's just part of the story.

With Atlanta now in the spotlight, officials are drawing attention to human trafficking.

CNN's Robyn Curnow has this report.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Super Bowl is surrounded with hype, large crowds and big dollars. But some local officials are concerned those dollars could be spent in a more sinister way.

Atlanta's Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is all too aware this city is already a U.S. hub for sex trafficking.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, ATLANTA, GEORGIA: We are concerned 12 months out of the year. We know that there's more attention placed on human trafficking during the Super Bowl but what we know is that this is a growing problem and it's not someone else's problem. It literally is happening in our backyard.

So again, it is about informing our hotel workers, even putting literature in some of our strip clubs through the city.

CURNOW (on camera): So with all this awareness particularly in the lead up to say the Super Bowl, is this sort of a disconnect perhaps that by increasing awareness, it looks like there's a problem.

BOTTOMS: No, it's not a concern. I think that you have look for opportunities to educate the public. And what we know is that when people are talking about the Super Bowl, there's an opportunity for us to increase awareness.

CURNOW: And it's not It is not just about the lead up to game day, the awareness campaign stretches from the airport to the taxicabs to hotel rooms and beyond.

(voice over): In this convenience store just miles from the stadium, an opportunity to spread the word or even spot a victim. I met Nita Belles, executive director of the nonprofit organization called In Our Backyard.

NITA BELLES, IN OUR BACKYARD. Yes. And this store has done an excellent job. They've got the freedom sticker and the information about human trafficking right here on the front door.

CURNOW: She has traveled to ten Super Bowls with her organization.

BELLES: The Super Bowl does not increase trafficking. Sex fires (ph) increase trafficking.

CURNOW: She fights human trafficking by partnering with stores like this one.

BELLES: Traffickers bring their victims to convenience stores every day.

CURNOW: The volunteers know that so they put the human trafficking hotline number inside bathroom stalls for those rare moments when the trafficking victim is alone.

BELLES: We have documented cases of people that have actually found freedom as a result of the freedom stickers.

CURNOW: Hailey Bower represents this chain of petrol stations and convenience stores where they train employees how to spot potential victims and traffickers.

HAILEY BOWER, CLIPPER PETROLEUM: They're probably coming in to buy drinks and snacks, anything that they need for their hotels. So yes, we think they will be coming in and hopefully we can put a stop to it.

[01:55:02] CURNOW (on camera): You've got your eyes open.

BOWER: Their eyes open, ears open -- we're ready.

CURNOW (voice over): They are the eyes and ears that you will never see out in the open. Nita led us to this secret location in downtown Atlanta where volunteers are scouring the dark web to looking for new leads to feed to law enforcement. With the goal in mind of finding missing youths who are at risk of being trafficked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are some of the children in our missing children's book and some of them, as you can see have been recovered.

CURNOW: There we met Cheryl Csiky (ph) a volunteer with a personal connection to trafficking.

CHERYL CSIKY, SEX ASSAULT SURVIVOR: I was exploited as a youth around the age of ten. I was pretty much pinned in the midst of the neighborhood, young child, trafficking abuse ring.

CURNOW: Overcome with emotion, she revealed it took her years before she realized what was happening but hopes her work can prevent others from the same trauma.

CSIKY: I think the most rewarding experience, I've been around 40 years now, is actually this Super Bowl, meeting up with convenience store workers and hearing them say they have seen some of these kids in the booklets.

CURNOW: A glimmer of hope in the fight to save lives as officials and activists use events like the Super Bowl to highlight a year-round problem.

Robyn Curnow, CNN -- Atlanta.


VAUSE: Here's Another anti-trafficking initiative. It's called "My Freedom Day". CNN is partnering with young people all around the world for a student-led day of action come March 14th aimed to fight modern day slavery.

During "My Freedom Day" this year, well, there's one simple question. "What makes you feel free?" And here are some of the answers we've already received.


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: What makes me feel free? The ability to speak my mind. Say exactly what I think. That freedom of expression is incredibly important and something that I will always defend.

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC, LOS ANGELES GALAXY FORWARD: When I have nobody controlling me, I do whatever I want. I feel alive. I feel healthy. I feel I have opportunity to do whatever I want.


VAUSE: We would like to hear from you. Tell us what makes you feel free. Post a photo or video, remember to use the #myfreedomday.

You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Thanks for being with us. The news continues though, right here on CNN after a short break.