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Trump Calls for Unity While Launching Partisan Attacks; Lavrov Says Russia Will Exit INF Treaty in Six Months; Trump Says if Congress Fails to Act on Wall, I'll Get It Built; U.S.-Backed Syrian Democratic Forces Take on Remnants of ISIS; U.K. Prime Minister Meets Northern Ireland Lawmakers to Discuss Backstop; Pope Says Some Clergy Have Sexually Abused Nuns; Trump Administration Holding Talks with Afghan Groups, Taliban. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 6, 2019 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson for you live from Abu Dhabi where the

time is 7:00 in the evening.

It is 10:00 a.m. in Washington. It is the day after the night before, as it were. He appealed for unity and called for compromise. But Donald

Trump showed no retreat on some of his most controversial policies that have left America bitterly divided. The State of the Union address in

Washington is what we're talking about. And every word being dissected.

This video shows how polarizing parts of his speech were. With Republicans standing to applaud, while Democrats sat silently. While Mr. Trump stood

firm on his demand for a border wall. And criticized what he called foolish wars and ridiculous partisan investigations.

He touched on foreign policy, too. And we have reporters around the world bringing you reaction to Mr. Trump's address during the show. Including

Matthew Chance in Moscow and Will Ripley in Hong Kong. Ben Wedeman is in Syria for you and tonight, Phil Black is in London.

But we begin tonight in Washington with details of Mr. Trump's address. Immigration a big theme. And while the President didn't declare a state of

emergency, he may have been laying the ground work for one. By depicting the U.S. southern border like the old wild west. CNN's Joe Johns with



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump calling for unity and bipartisanship but showing no sign of

compromise on hardline issues that have left Washington divided.

TRUMP: As we speak, large organized caravans are on the march to the United States. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the

safety, security, and financial well-being of all America.

JOHNS: With a threat of another government shutdown looming next week, the President referring to the situation at the border as an urgent national

crisis and again calling on Congress to approve his wall.

TRUMP: The proper wall never got built. I will get it built.

JOHNS: Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, rebutting the request in the Democratic response.

STACEY ABRAMS, FORMER GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: The shutdown was a stunt, engineered by the President of the United States.

America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants, not walls.

JOHNS: With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi behind him for the first time, President Trump issuing a stark warning to the new Democratic House


TRUMP: An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous

partisan investigations.

If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.

JOHNS: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff later signaling he's not backing down.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: We're going to do our job. But we're not going to turn and look the other way when we see corruption or

malfeasance and we're going to get to the bottom of what Russia has done.

JOHNS: Democrat, many dressed in white in a nod to the suffrage, stated seated for most of the speech, a striking contrast with the Republican

counterparts on the other side of the chamber. The tension inside the room broken by this moment of levity.

TRUMP: No one has benefitted more from a thriving economy than women who have filled 58 percent of the newly-created jobs last year. You weren't

supposed to do that.

JOHNS: Freshmen female Democrats seizing the moment and celebrating their achievement before garnering the President's praise.

TRUMP: Don't sit yet. You're going to like this.

We also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before.

JOHNS: The President throwing red meat to his conservative base by calling on Congress to prohibit late term abortion. But appealing to Democrats on

issues like criminal justice reform, lowering prescription drug price, and fighting HIV/aids and childhood cancer. Abrams signaling that Democrats

are open to working with the President.

[10:05:00] ABRAMS: Each as, even as I am very disappointed by the President's approach to our problems, I still don't want him to fail. But

we need him to tell the truth.


ANDERSON: Strong words there, a call for Mr. Trump to tell the truth, and respect his duties. Let's discuss all of this with CNN national security

analyst, Juliette Kayyem. And the line most likely to be quoted -- especially by Trump's critics, and this is one that we heard in Joe's

report -- was from Mr. Trump and it goes something like this. If there is to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It

just doesn't work that way. The logic goes like this, if you want economic prosperity, you can't investigate the President. And I'm quoting from an

article written by one of our colleagues at CNN, who suggests that one doesn't work with the other, correct?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's exactly right. I mean, President Trump -- I think it was a tell -- is so focused on his

ability to govern, because of these investigations and the potential that he or others in his family or the network is criminally liable. That he,

sort of, in some ways kind of threatens the United States and Congress that nothing will get done. We'll go to another shutdown, because of these

investigations. What he doesn't know, or what he doesn't recognize, of course, those are two very different things, and we are a, you know,

constitutional democracy. The individual in the oval office is irrelevant to the functioning of government. Someone else can replace him. But I

think it was just a tell, that he cannot get the investigation out of his head, and that it does surround this White House in ways that make Trump

very, you know, very paranoid and also very, very aggressive.

ANDERSON: All right, so, Juliette, if there was one key take-away, one thing that was different, it was this appeal for unity across the divide.

And that surely has to bode well. Are we likely to see -- that we know that there is a very aggressive Democratic House at this point. And we've

talked about the necessity for oversight in the U.S. There is also a concern about too much overdrive as it were. Can we see this sort of

bipartisanship that the President was appealing for from both sides going forward?

KAYYEM: I think that there are issues of which there will be consensus, say criminal justice, reform, potentially infrastructure where you can get

that alliances. But what is happening now -- which is quite interesting, and a applies to national policy and foreign security -- is that the

President can no longer rely on a united Republican Senate front. As regards to Syria, as regards to Afghanistan, as regards even Russia. And

so, when he talks about unity, I think the unity that you're going see at least to the end of his first term is attempted alliances between the

Republicans in the Senate and the Democrats in the House to get somethings done. And to curb the President in some ways, you know, aggressive or

inexplicable foreign policy decisions in that regard. So I think the unity is going to cut against Trump in the months to come.

ANDERSON: A huge announcement -- by the way -- from Russia today, that's sure to cause concern across Europe. The Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

says Moscow will follow Mr. Trump's lead and withdraw from a key arms control deal in the next six months. Now the INF, as it is known, the INF

treaty has been a cornerstone of European security since the Cold War. Mr. Trump said he is suspending U.S. involvement in the treaty, because of

Russian violations. And says no President has been tougher on Russia than he has. How do you see what is happening here?

KAYYEM: So this to me was the big take-away in the speech. If you really looked at substance, about what President Trump was talking about. Because

not only did he announce sort of the withdrawal or the suspension of the INF, but he talked about a potential new arms race. I mean at the end of

that paragraph, he talked about, well, we'll be more creative, more nimble than our enemies. Russia clearly picked up on, this because it has wanted

out of the treaty for some time, and is now going to begin its own arms race, around its desires and its allies' desires.

To me, this is, you know, this is, I don't want catastrophic, but it is actually something that I'm kind of shocked that there hasn't been more

focus on by the American public, or even the Senate at this stage. This is a big deal.

[10:10:00] Because of course, as you noted, the Europeans are not happy with it. President Trump did not mention Europe or protecting Europe in

the entire speech. Didn't mention our allies. Didn't mention the alliances. Instead, gave Putin what he wanted. And as an aside, it was

the only mention of Russia in the entire speech. Nothing about what they're trying to do in terms of our election or cyberattacks.

ANDERSON: One of the other things that as a team we've been discussing after this speech was this. We heard Mr. Trump give an ominous description

of what he called the lawless southern border. And talked about smugglers, who use migrant children as human pawn. But he never mentioned what his

own government has done to many families, who illegally crossed the border. A recent report revealing that thousands more kids have been separated from

their parents than previously acknowledged. What did you make of this mention of the wall yet again?

KAYYEM: So this part was interesting of course, I followed this from a homeland security perspective. Not surprising that President Trump took

the opportunity to create this fear of some wild west, southern border. Anyone who has been down there knows that is not true. We have an unlawful

immigration problem. It is not a crisis. This is not something that's going to bring America to its knees. But so that part of it did not

surprise me.

But the disconnect between the President saying I'm for protecting women who cross the border because of sexual abuse or protecting children did

just ring incredibly hollow, because of course the major issue at the southern border is the Trump administration's family disunification

planning, or family separation, and their failure to unite everyone. And that is something that is still not been cured.

So the take-away about the wall discussion was really, really vague. I think in the end the President could not decide in time how much he was

going to push on the wall. He has certainly backtracked from the I want $5 billion for a wall. And I think he is trying to figure out how does he get

out of this mess. He cannot call an emergency or a national security emergency right now, because he is getting pushback from Republicans about

doing that. So I call this sort of the slither immigration policy. He just wants to get out at this stage. His base is mad at him. The

Republican Senators are mad at him. He needs out. He had no strategy. And Nancy Pelosi essentially won that round.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Always a pleasure. Thank you.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

ANDERSON: The President also took time to boast as what he sees as his biggest foreign policy successes, including North Korea during the address,

Mr. Trump announced the date of the second summit with Kim Jong-un and gave himself credit for diffusing long-time nuclear tensions with Pyongyang.

CNN's Will Ripley has visited North Korea more than a dozen times. He breaks down the President's claims for you tonight from Hong Kong.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump continues to be optimistic about North Korean and denuclearization. So optimistic, in fact, that he

is moving forward with a second summit with Kim Jong-un in Vietnam three weeks from now. At his State of the Union, President Trump touted the

results of what he called his bold view diplomacy.

TRUMP: Our hostages have come home. Nuclear testing has stopped. And there has not been a missile launch in more than 15 months. If I had not

been elected President of the United States, we would right now in my opinion be in a major war with North Korea. Much work remains to be done,

but my relationship with Kim Jong-un is a good one.

RIPLEY: Despite that good relationship, as the President said, there certainly is a lot of work to be done. We heard from a U.S. security

council diplomatic source who shared with us a confidential report that was released last week. That says that North Korea's nuclear program not only

remains intact with missiles ready to launch at any time but you have satellite images showing that North Korea has been expanding key missile

bases that could potentially pose a threat to American troops in this region. Now, North Korea, they are also accused in this U.N. report of

moving around their nuclear and ballistic arsenal. Trying to guard against potential U.S. military strikes.

How would they be doing that? Using civilian airports like this one in Pyongyang, I've flown into many time. Using those airports to assemble and

test ballistic missiles.

Now to be clear, bolstering the nuclear program, moving around missiles, it's not a violation of any written agreement with the U.S. Although some

do say it goes against the spirit of the Singapore Summit. Of course, North Korea would say that enforcing sanctions also goes against the spirit

of that Summit.

[10:15:00] Now speaking of sanctions, this U.N. report also accuses North Korea of brazenly violating U.N. Security Council sanctions to the point

they have become ineffective. The allegations, illegal ship to ship transfers of petroleum products and coal. One transfer allegedly worth

more than $5.5 million. Also, accused of violating a U.N. arms embargo. Trying to sell military equipment in the Middle East and Africa. And North

Korea, again, they say sanctions really shouldn't be in place at all. And they point to steps that they say they have already taken. Problem the

most dramatic was one I witnessed last year back in May when they blew the tunnel entrances and buildings at their Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

North Korea has also returned American detainees. They have handed over Korean War remains. And they have continued a more than year-long pause in

missile testing. And despite all that just last month in the United States, the Pentagon's Missile Defense Review called North Korea an

extraordinary threat to the U.S. A lot to talk about when President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meet in Vietnam later this month. Will

Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.


ANDERSON: Mr. Trump also defending his plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Saying they deserve a warm welcome home but it comes as a top U.S.

general tells CNN the fight against ISIS is not over yet. And in the last hour, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said ISIS remains a dangerous

threat in territory it does not control. Well, he is meeting with foreign ministers from the Global Anti-ISIS Coalition as we speak. CNN's Ben

Wedeman joining us now live from eastern Syria. And, Ben, you've seen firsthand the consequences of policy made in the United States.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and what we're seeing is that now, what seems to be the final chapter of the geographical

entity that was called the Islamic State is about to come to an end. However, ISIS, as a terrorist organization, is not.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Fighters are loading up for the final battle against what is left of the so-called Islamic State. Now holed up in a tiny corner

of land in eastern Syria.

With coalition air support, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic forces have driven ISIS out of all but a sliver of territory along the Euphrates River.

It's easy to see plenty of movement inside the besieged enclave just a half mile away. As gunfire echoes across no-man's land.

The active fighting stopped a while ago, these soldiers say. Is that incoming or outgoing, I asked? Outgoing, he responds. He was, however,


WEDEMAN (on camera): So the soldiers here have told us it's been quiet for the last at least week or so. But just at the moment, this soldier was

telling me that, there was an incoming round landing right over there. So quiet, I guess in this instance, is a relative term.

(voice-over): Ahmen Afreen [ph] is commanding the anti-ISIS forces at the front and warns against assuming the war is almost over.

UNIDENTIFIED COMMANDER: (through translator): ISIS isn't finished yet, he tells me. It is still in this area. It's still fighting. It still has

sleeper cells in the areas we've liberated.

WEDEMAN: When ISIS was at its height, one of its supporters' favorite slogans was the Islamic State remaining and expanding. That now seems like

a very long time ago.

(on camera): As the Islamic state collapses, they're leaving behind their spare change, so to speak. This, a five-dirham coin, now not worth

anything. Worthless. Like the debris of their utopian delusion.


WEDEMAN: And there was a certain amount of relief among Kurdish officials in this part of eastern Syria, when they heard that President Trump did

not, during the State of the Union address, declare that the United States and its allies had completed -- achieved complete victory over ISIS. The

worry is, that as soon as that happens, the United States and its coalition partners, are simply going to accelerate their withdrawal from this part of

Syria. Leaving the forces on the ground, Kurdish and Arab tribal fighters, really on their own. And the worry is that they may not be able to

completely crush ISIS, which as we've made clear time and time again is still very active and has sleeper cells all over this part of Syria, as

well as in Iraq.

[10:20:00] Where they regularly conduct and carry out terrorist attacks -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is in Syria for you. Ben, thank you.

Still to come, hell hath no fury like a Brexit deal scorned, it seems. A leading EU official opens up about Brexit in very frank terms.



DONALD TUSK, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: By the way, I've been wondering what the special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit

without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it safely. Thank you.


ANDERSON: A special place in hell. Remarkable, hey? Lest you were in any doubt in what the EU is thinking, it really doesn't get much clearer than

that, does it? That's the mood Theresa May will walk into, when she heads to Brussels on Thursday. In the meantime, there are still concerns in

Belfast to address. Nic Robertson joining us from there. And, Nic, the British Prime Minister spending the day meeting lawmakers, the backdrop of

course being the backstop, correct?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: 100 percent, Becky. As the backstop and nothing else to talk about here really. We've heard

from the principal nationalist party here, Sinn Fein, saying that they echo what Leo Varadkar described as a special place in hell for those who didn't

have a plan for Brexit. And they say that Theresa May came here with nothing new, with no plan, no vision, and for that reason, they are

criticizing her roundly. No surprise in that.

And we heard again from what they have been saying over the past few months, that if there is a hard Brexit, then they are calling for an

immediate vote across the whole of Ireland for, with a question of should there be a united Ireland. You have on the other side the Ulster Unionist

Party. There are a couple of them here. We know Theresa May has been meeting with the biggest one, DUP. But she also met with the other

unionist party here and they said if there is a hard Brexit then London should take immediate control of this government building and the

government in Northern Ireland. Direct rule, they call it, at the end of March.

[10:25:00] So what you get there, I'm giving you, is a flavor of the extreme poles and the extreme polarization of the debate here.

But of course the key meeting for Theresa May was with the DUP, was with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP. Theresa May needs to convince her

that she is going to go back to Brussels but perhaps not as was called for by Parliament last week, to replace the backstop. But Theresa May says she

wants to change it. This is what Arlene Foster had to say about that detail.


ARLENE FOSTER, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY LEADER: Well, I think we're into semantics now. I think what the House of Commons has given her mandate to

do, is to replace the backstop and not there for her mandate to take to Brussels.


ROBERTSON: So very clearly, Arlene Foster, looking for a replacement of the backstop. This is something that the EU says won't happen. We've

heard that from the Irish government. We've heard that again from the EU leaders today. So the debate and the polarization around the debate, it

only seems to be getting stronger. Of course this is to be expected. This is a negotiation. This is going down to the wire. But it does raise a lot

of concerns here, not the least of what is going to happen to the border. That is a very, very real and live issue here in Northern Ireland -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Well let's take a look at Mrs. May's agenda then. Because on Thursday, she does meet the President of the European Commission, and

that's Jean-Claude Juncker, heading back to Brussels, to try to reach a new agreement. It does include the backstop issue. Now as far as I understand

it, the PM is due to report back to Westminster on February 13th with votes expected the following day. Look, Nic, realistically, what is she going to

achieve in Brussels?

ROBERTSON: Look, I suspect, Becky, that this is a first of a couple of trips before that deadline. She's going to go to Brussels tomorrow. We

just heard from the Irish Prime Minister tweeting a couple of moments ago that Theresa May is going to go to Dublin. Dublin, yes. The seat of the

Irish government on Friday to talk with them.

When she was speaking with business leaders here yesterday, she talked about the importance of strengthening the relationship between London and

Dublin, the British and Irish governments. She talked about having annual meetings to do that in the years to come. But it is very clear, she sees a

way to resolve her impasse in Parliament, by trying to persuade the Irish government to shift on their position. And they've been very, very clear

on this. It's a united position, along with the European Union, the European Union reaffirmed that again today. Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude

Juncker reaffirming that again today.

Theresa May going to Dublin will perhaps be seen as an effort to sort of bypass this unity at the EU. But I was in Dublin a couple of days ago,

speaking with ministers there, and it doesn't really seem to be a path open to that. If Theresa May wants to improve relationships between the

governments, that's one thing. But changing the government's mind on the backstop doesn't seem to be something that is she is going to be able to

do. So what is she going to be able to do before she gets back to Parliament? I would expect, as I say, another trip back to Brussels. We

don't know that. She hasn't said it. But she's going to face a tough time in Parliament. We heard from Arlene Foster. I don't think there's a lot

of slack here for Theresa May to come back with anything than what she was given that mandate for last week. And that's not in the EU's gift to give

as they would say right now -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is in Belfast for you. Viewers, I'm in Abu Dhabi. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Coming up, a new bombshell confession from the Catholic Church. The Pope admits that nuns, nuns are sexually abused by clergy. That story is coming



ANDERSON: If you are just joining us, you are more than welcome. You're watching CNN, this is CONNECT THE WORLD, with me, Becky Anderson, out of

our previewing hub in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Where it is just after half past 7:00 in the evening.

To a twist, well certainly the latest twist in the abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church now. In a new bombshell confession, Pope Francis has

admitted that bishops and priests have sexually abused nuns with some even being used as sex slaves, and that it could still be happening. Well, the

Pontiff said the Vatican had been working on the issue for some time. The latest news follows a child sex abuse scandal that, of course, has rocked

the Catholic Church to its foundation for the past several years.

Well, the Pope made the comments on the Papal plane after an historic visit to the Arabian Peninsula. CNN Vatican correspondent, Delia Gallagher,

traveled with the Pope and joins me now from Rome. We were only in the past 24 hours talking about the abuse scandal that has rocked the Church.

We couldn't have known that the Pope would say what he did on the plane. And, Delia, surely this has to mark a new low in this abuse crisis, which

has really rocked the Catholic Church to its core.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you could say a new low, Becky, or you could say it's a good development that this is coming out

now, and that the Pope has acknowledged it. It has been public for some time that there have been cases here and there. But never a public

acknowledgment from the Vatican about the seriousness with which they claim they will take this case of nuns being abused by priests and bishops.

Let's take a listen to some of what the Pope said last night on the airplane.


POPE FRANCIS (through translator): I think it's still taking place because it's not as though the moment you become aware of something it goes away.

The thing continues. And we've been working on this for some time.


GALLAGHER: Becky, the Pope also said that in one congregation in France, that the situation had reached a point of sexual slavery, he said. And the

Vatican clarified that this morning, saying the Pope was talking about manipulation, the psychological and sexual manipulation of women who are in

a very vulnerable situation without their freedom.

[10:35:00] Obviously, note able to denounce their abusers because it is a priest or a bishop in charge of them.

Interestingly, Becky, all of this is coming just weeks shy of this global meeting that is going to happen here in the end of February, to discuss sex

abuse. The Vatican has been trying to dial down the expectation on that meeting. Obviously, with the Pope's acknowledgment now, of these cases of

sexual abuse against nuns, that is getting increasingly harder to do.

ANDERSON: Delia, just how widespread is this? What are we talking about here globally? And when the Pope says we've known about this for some

time. What exactly is the Church doing about it?

GALLAGHER: Well, there have been cases, as I mentioned, in various countries around the world, of nuns denouncing. I can't give you the

numbers. Because we don't have the statistics. But it's been below the radar. It hasn't had the media spotlight that the abuse of minors has had.

And of course, there's probably now going to be other cases coming out. Because the umbrella group for nuns around the world back in November

denounced this issue. And what's interesting, Becky, is that the reason this all came out, the question was posed to the Pope last night, was

because his own magazine at the Vatican last week wrote an article saying the Church cannot close its eyes to the problem of the sexual abuse of

nuns. So the Pope was responding. If you want to pressure from within his own Catholic Church to start dealing with this issue.

We do not know the numbers. We do not know the numbers. Because these are nuns. These are nuns who are in very vulnerable positions, who are afraid

to denounce their priest abuser clearly. So that was the point last November from this umbrella group of nuns saying we are now going to help

them to feel that they can come forward. So I suspect this is just the beginning of another wave likely of more cases that will come to light --


ANDERSON: Delia Gallagher, it was a pleasure having you here with us in the UAE during the Pope's trip. Busy times back home for you. Thank you.

From a perspective from inside the Church, I'm now joined by Sister Julie George of the Congregation of Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy

Spirit. In addition to being a nun, she is also a women's rights lawyer. And director of Stevani, which is a women's empowerment organization.

Joining me from Pune, in India. Sister Julie, this issue hit world headlines with a case, of course, as Delia reminded us in India with a

group of nuns who spoke out about alleged sexual abuse by a bishop in Kerala. They say they were subsequently ordered to transfer to convents

across the country. Just how hard is it to speak out from within the Church?

SISTER JULIE GEORGE, MISSIONARY SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (via Skype): The sexual abuse cases, they are happening in India. But the

Church has been taking time to recognize. And the judge is not really reaching out to the victims. And it is a very pathetic situation among

religious. When they are abused by their hierarchy and when the Church is not standing by the victims, though Pope Francis speaks many times in

solidarity with the victims of sexual abuse, but still the Church speaks only about the sexual abuse of minors but not about the vulnerable nuns.

So that is the situation now in India.

ANDERSON: Let me just ask you one very brief question. Do you trust the Church to bring those responsible to justice? Do you have -- I know this

may sound like a very strange question -- faith in the Church at this point?

GEORGE: Hello, I couldn't hear you.

ANDERSON: OK, I think unfortunately that we've seem to have lost the connection. But this is a story that we will continue to be working on for

viewers and we will continue to get as many people on to cover this story for you from as many different perspectives as possible.

Live from Abu Dhabi for the time being, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Coming up, the fight in Afghanistan has turned into America's longest war. President Trump uses his State of the Union to push his Afghanistan

strategy. And that is to make a quick exit.

[10:40:00] That, after this.


ANDERSON: Hello, you're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD, with me Becky Anderson. It is just about 20 to 8:00 in the UAE. Back to our top

story, for you.

U.S. President Donald Trump laid out his foreign policy agenda on the state union -- in the State of the Union speech. Including addressing the

ongoing political crisis in Venezuela. Now, Mr. Trump reiterated the U.S. commitment to self-designated Venezuelan interim President, Juan Guaido.

Saying quote, we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime.

Now, another major foreign policy issue raised in that speech, President Trump repeated his desire to accelerate the end of a U.S. troop presence in

Syria and in Afghanistan. Now, that of course is America's longest war. The President insisting that the U.S. must try to reach a peace settlement

in the Afghanistan conflict. Let's get our reporters to you, Phil Black is in London with international reaction to President Trump's Afghanistan

agenda. Oren Liebermann in Moscow, where a Russian-backed conference on Afghanistan is taking place. I'll come to you shortly, Oren.

Phil, let's start with you. What's the perspective here?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Becky, as you say, President Trump essentially restated his Afghan policy, talked to the Taliban striker deal,

and get out. And you're right, he said he would accelerate that process. But at the same time he acknowledged it may not even be possible to achieve

a political settlement. So that qualified language is in part a reflection of the challenge that comes with negotiating with a brutal organization

which the U.S. has been committed to wiping out for almost two decades. But it is also a reflection of the Afghan government's concerns.

The Afghan government, well, it does support the idea of a political settlement, it just doesn't like the way the Trump administration has been

going about it. The main reason there is because the Afghan government has been largely frozen out of the talks so far. The U.S. and the Taliban are

talking. The Taliban reversed to enter direct negotiations with the Afghan government. So it's all taking place on the Taliban's terms. And so the

Taliban -- sorry, the Afghan government is afraid of being sold out, essentially. That the U.S. is so desperate to strike a deal, that it is

rushing towards an arrangement that could still see the Taliban left in a very powerful position from which it could still be a threat to the Afghan

government, and the state institutions that have been built with such difficulty over the last 17 years or so -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Oren, what's going on there?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Moscow sees what is an attempt to pull the U.S. and U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, it sees there a

vacuum. Russia certainly has domestic interests in Afghanistan.

[10:45:00] Namely for example seeing the stopping spread of extremism as well as the stop of illicit drugs coming out of Afghanistan and finding

their way to the streets of Russia.

But there's a bigger picture here and that is far more important to Russia and the Kremlin. With the U.S. vacuum, there is an opportunity for Russia

to step in here, for Russia to host its own talks, and for Russia to get the credits if these talks succeed. Now Russia is not saying they have any

better of a shot to concluding this successfully than the U.S., but Russia has brought more of the power broker, more of the players into these talks.

Russia has been quick to note, look, it is the Afghan diaspora hosting the talks and the talks are at a state-owned hotel and that is certainly

conspicuous here. Russia brought together the Taliban, a number of their representatives there, as well as former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

And then a number of these other regional power brokers who hold a tremendous amount of influence.

Now that doesn't change one fact -- and this is the same both for the U.S. talks and for the Russian talk -- the Afghan government is still at this

point frozen out. In fact, the current President had said that the Moscow talks hold no weight. When asked about that one of those power brokers

here in Moscow, basically said, look, if there's an agreement here or we come to an agreement here, the Afghan government is simply going to have to

accept it.

ANDERSON: Oren, what's the end game here as far as Moscow is concerned?

LIEBERMANN: It would give Moscow a tremendous amount of credibility internationally, diplomatically if they succeeded here. They already have

the credibility here of hosting these talks, of being all of these people to the same table. Bringing the tell band here, bringing former President

Hamid Karzai here. Especially if he's looking forward for a return to politics and perhaps even a return to power. Russia could be betting on

that and could that big and win big, if he does make that return to politics and succeeds here. He's meeting with the Taliban here, something

he was unable to do while he was in power. In the end it's bringing Moscow credibility and a sort of diplomatic achievement to have this all here,

whether it works out or not in the long run. When it comes to some sort of negotiations or some sort of conclusion to the process with Afghanistan.

ANDERSON: And Phil, finally is, it clear, you know, if the international community isn't in lock-step with what President Trump and his advisers

want to do, with regard to the U.S. in Afghanistan, is it clear whether the international community and specifically those who have been involved, and

whose foreign policy is informed by what happens in Afghanistan, whether anybody else has got a better idea at this point?

BLACK: Well, it's not in the interest of any of the many countries that have committed forces and resources to Afghanistan over the last 17 years

or so to see this war end in such a way where nothing is achieved. And certainly the risk of seeing the Afghan government, the state, its

institutions, collapse, is something that nobody wants to see. But it is also something that the United States itself doesn't want to see.

The U.S. primary goal here is the offer, if you like, to the Taliban which says, we'll withdraw, we'll pull back, we'll reduce our number, if you

guarantee that there will be no freedom in Afghanistan for terrorist groups, like al-Qaeda. Because of course, that's how the 9/11 attacks took

place, when the Taliban last ruled in Afghanistan.

What the Afghan government is concerned about -- and these concerns would be shared by other countries around the world -- and that is the viability

of the Afghan state. About the continued efforts towards democracy, hard- won human rights, and other freedoms, and social progress, particularly the rights of women. And no one that has been involved in Afghanistan will

want to see a situation where the Taliban can once again pose a threat to the Afghan state and move to take control. Because that could once again

result in another bloody Afghan civil war.

So all of that is at stake, and it goes to show that there is a long way for these things to go before you could even begin to talk about there

being a viable peace process on the table. And as I say, that could go a long way towards explaining President Trump's very qualified language in

his State of the Union address last night -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, Phil, Oren, thank you, gentlemen.

Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you.

Coming up -- and we've about ten minutes or so of this show to go -- fireworks and festivities in February. Stay with us to find out what it

means to over a billion of us, to enter the year of the pig.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. About eight minutes to the hour. Welcome back.

[10:55:00] A red carpet event for actor Liam Neeson's latest film called "Pursuit" has been canceled. Now that comes after a backlash in response

to comments Neeson made about wanting to kill a black man in revenge for a friend of his being raped decades ago. Liam Neeson appeared on ABC's "Good

Morning America" on Tuesday to try to clarify his remarks.


LIAM NEESON, ACTOR: I'm not racist. This was nearly 40 years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you have had the same reaction if your friend had said it was a white man. Would you have wanted to go out and kill?

NEESON: Oh, definitely. If she said Irish, or a Scott, or a Brit, or a Lithuanian, I know I would have the same effect. I was trying to show

honor to, stand up for my dear friend.


ANDERSON: Well it's all familiar, with a red-carpet event where actor speak to the media, would be inappropriate.

Well your "Parting Shots" this evening. We bring you celebrations from all over the Far East. Here you see China bringing in the lunar new year which

is celebrated all over the world of course. This year marks 2019 as the year of the pig. Celebrations will last 15 days. And we can expect

fireworks like these in Hong Kong to keep going. The season of traditions comes with a few quirks. But one the fireworks are to scare off evil

spirits and you aren't meant to buy shoes for the entire month. Also wearing any color besides red might affect your chances at luck and


Aside from the grand displays, there is also deeply spiritual times for many like these Tibetans. Ultimately, though, it is about just having a

good time.

[10:55:00] For more on the lunar new year or the historic human fraternity, formed by a papal visit to the UAE, our team has those and many more

stories covered for you. We have your backs. Just go to our Facebook page, that's I'm Becky Anderson. That was

CONNECT THE WORLD. From the team working with me here in the UAE, and those working with us around the world, it is a very good evening. Thank

you for watching.


[11:00:00] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Ahead at this hour, Donald Trump lays out his foreign policy agenda for the year, and it's all about talks with

North Korea and touting a fight against ISIS.

And also, tens of thousands of people have been infected with measles in Madagascar. Why this easily preventable disease is on the rise around the