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Government Shutdown Could Happen Again; U.S.-backed Fighters Seize Last Rebel-held Area; Iranians Celebrated Islamic Revolution; Venezuela Purchase More Missiles; World Headlines; Senator Elizabeth Warren Calls Out Donald Trump by Name; Virginia's Top Three Officials Mired in Scandal; UAE, China and India Are Making Deals Worth Billions; Women, Hip-Hop Win Big at the Grammys. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 11, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A final fight for ISIS-held territory in Syria. In a CNN exclusive, we go to the front lines of the battle against the militants.

And border wall government shutdown round two with a deal deadline just five days away, the White House is struggling to get Democrats to accept its plans for a controversial border wall.

Plus, music's most glamorous night just wrapped up along with some shockers. We will tell you who won big at this year's Grammy Awards.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and of course from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN Newsroom.

U.S.-backed fighters report fierce resistance as they attack the last ISIS enclave is Syria. They launched an operation to seize Baghouz Al- Fawqani on Saturday. It is a small Euphrates valley town near the Iraqi border. It may also hold some of the most battled-hardened ISIS members determined to fight to the death.

Well, CNN's Ben Wedemen is on the ground covering this battle in a CNN exclusive. He joins me now live from eastern Syria. And Ben, you did have to pull back from the front lines there. Talk to us about what's been happening in the past few hours.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary. Well, we woke up to the sound of heavy machine gun fire just down the road this morning where were in our previous position which was about a kilometer and a half from the front line. We went up to the rooftop of our building where we've been doing live from and bullets started zinging over our heads.

And what appeared - we don't know if it was a bomb dropped by a drone or a mortar round landed right next to our building. And so, we had to go downstairs and take cover and eventually pull out of the position altogether. We pulled back to a spot about five kilometers from there. And we've been able to take off our flak jackets and helmets which explains why my hair is so messy, but nonetheless we're on safer ground now.

But what was happening was a serious counter-attack by ISIS Fighters. There were several V-BEDS or vehicle born explosive devices went off just up the street from us and there were heavy rounds coming right down the main street leading to Baghouz Al-Fawqani.

We saw some of the SDF fighters were pulling back, although as we were leaving it appears that they were trying to push back this counter- attack. In fact, we saw two armored vehicles that appeared to be -- appeared to belong to American Special Forces who were also going towards the front.

So, we've seen also lots of air strikes in the area as well, but what ISIS was doing was taking advantage of the very heavy mist in the morning to try to retake ground they've lost in the last few days. And as we've seen, being at the front for several days, speaking to the fighters, they expect this may be a longer battle than some of their commanders were saying. They were saying, perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, the town would be retaken, but clearly, this is going to be a much harder fight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN: The final battle began just after sunset with coalition air strikes pounding the last dot on the map held by the state that called itself Islamic, the town of Baghouz Al-Fawqani in eastern Syria. But there was no calm before the storm as gunners with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces rained heavy machine gunfire down onto ISIS targets.

Whilst civilians would who stuck it out in the town made their way to safer ground. A mortar round exploded near 14-year-old Mahmoud Nazal (Ph) days ago. His wounds still fresh.

His brother Fahmir(Ph) says they couldn't afford to pay the ISIS fighters a thousand dollars apiece to leave and does had to sneak out under cover of darkness.

[03:04:53] An hour before the final push began, Arab tribal fighters danced a useful moral-raising exercise, perhaps, before the coming battle.

The bombing of the town continued throughout the night, intensifying at first light.

The battle to take the last enclave of ISIS in Syria is into its second day. Syrian Democratic Forces have made good progress within the town, but they are encountering some resistance from the ISIS fighters. This despite the constant heavy coalition air strikes on the town.

But as the day wore on, the going got tougher and the air strikes increased. "It's a hit," he says. ISIS has dug a network of tunnels and trenches. Its fighters some of the experienced and battle hardened. "This battle will not end the war on ISIS when ISIS estate is replaced

by the ISIS the terrorist insurgency," Jumar (Ph), an Arab fighter tells me. "It will be tougher still. This war is easy, he says, we are fighting them on a front. It will be different when it becomes guerilla warfare."

Victory at sorts is at hand. Peace in this tortured land still elusive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN: And of course, one of the problems as this offensive move ahead, Rosemary, is that, there is still many civilians trapped inside Baghouz Al-Fawqani. Some of them apparently are held as human shields by ISIS. What we've seen when we were closer to the front, we were able to see before the battle began a lot of movement inside their refugee, basically camps of displaced people on the edges of the town. And we are hearing that as many as 1,000 civilians may have managed to leave the town within the last 48 hours.

In fact, from our position we had to leave from, we did see through binoculars groups of people trying to reach the higher ground where the SDF has positioned and is prepared to take in these people, but really the plight of these civilians as this battle goes ahead and as the bombardment, the bombing by the coalition continues, there is a very high risk of civilian casualties in this battle. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to our Ben Wedeman. Do stay safe there reporting from eastern Syria. I appreciate that.

Well, the acting U.S. defense secretary has touched down in Afghanistan on an unannounced trip. Patrick Shanahan's visit comes ahead of the Munich security conference later this week. It also comes after U.S. ceasefire talks with the Taliban and reports of a partial U.S. troop withdrawal. Shanahan insists he has not been told to step down the number of U.S. forces.

There are signs in Washington that there could be another government shutdown. That's because the president and lawmakers need to make a deal on border security funding by Friday. But negotiations reportedly stalled over the weekend and there are a lot of accusations flying around the White House about why Democrats are not playing ball.

Boris Sanchez explains.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sources familiar with both sides of the negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on keeping the government open and funded past Friday's deadline indicate that both sides are on impasse not only on funding for the president's long promised border wall, but also specifically on a cap proposed by Democrats on funding for a specific number of beds inside ICE detention centers.

Democrats have argued that they want to make sure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement are detaining criminals and not just regular migrants. On the other side Republicans are arguing that Democrats are trying to limit the ability of ICE agents to do their jobs.

Now the president weighed in on this several times on Twitter over the weekend arguing that Democrats involved in these negotiations are being held back by Democratic leadership and that they are acting irrationally. The president also sort of misrepresented where Democrats actually stand on that bed cap issue.

Further, his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney suggested that the possibilities here are still very broad. We could potentially see a government shutdown. We could see a deal. We could potentially see some sort of executive action. Here is more from the acting chief of staff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: We cannot definitively rule out a government shutdown at the end of this week.

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: You absolutely cannot and here is why.

TODD: OK.

MULVANEY: Let's say for the sake of this discussion that the Democrats prevail and the hard-core left-wing Democrats prevail. There was a Democrat congresswoman who put out a tweet yesterday about zero dollars for DHS.

[03:09:59] So, let's say the hard-core left wing of the Democrat Party prevails this negotiation and they put a bill on the president's desk with say zero money for the wall or 800 million some absurdly low number. How does he sign that? He cannot in good faith sign that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Now with talks completely breakdown, a Democrat aide told CNN that Democrats in the House are prepared to offer up a bill that would keep the government open and fund the Department of Homeland Security through at least September.

There is zero indication at this point that the Republican-led Senate would actually vote on the bill. No question it is unlikely to get a signature from the president if it ever actually reaches his desk.

Boris Sanchez, CNN at the White House.

CHURCH: Steven Erlanger is the New York Times chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe. He joins me now live from Brussels, Belgium. Welcome.

STEVEN ERLANGER, LONDON BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, another government shutdown is looking more likely it appears that come Friday with both Democrats and Republicans seemingly unable to make a deal on the border wall or immigration. So, what do you think it will take to bring the two parties together? Is that even possible?

ERLANGER: It's possible. I think we're a lot closer than we were before. We know that President Trump doesn't want to suffer again the blame for a shutdown. We know he needs symbolically something that he can say is progress toward a wall, and we know the Democrats who obviously have real interests in Hispanic-Americans don't want to push too hard on locking up migrants.

So, but in all those areas I think there is room for compromise and as Mr. Mulvaney said there's lots of money in the budget that can be found. I do think that one way or another, neither party will let the government shutdown this time and we are very close to a deal, it seems to me.

CHURCH: Interesting. President Trump wants that bill to fund his border wall, but the Democrats won't give him what he wants right now. How likely is it that he will be pushed to declare a national emergency to get the funds he needs for his wall or will we see another government shutdown? It sounds like you're thinking that there is going to be a deal here just before Friday.

ERLANGER: Well, I do, and there may require a temporary funding bill to get all of it done, but one I don't think, you know, the Democrats are going to give in on the wall, but the wall wasn't any more the biggest issue in these negotiations.

The Democrats had agreed to a fairly large amount of money for border security which could be used in part for the wall or whatever the Trump administration wanted. The Trump administration is already moving military, more military down to the border and there was some weird idea that they would declare the presence of these soldiers as the reason to have a national emergency called, which would be very bizarre twist of unreality.

But at the moment, we really are playing politics here. But as I say, I may be wrong, I'm often wrong, but I think we're a lot closer to a deal than some of the rhetoric would indicate.

CHURCH: Right. Interesting that you feel that way. President Trump is insisting the Democrats want a shut down, but the politics at play there, but why would anyone want to shut down. Who benefits from that?

ERLANGER: Well, that's the whole point. I mean, the people who clearly don't benefit are federal workers who don't make tons of money and who are trying to do their job. Also, you know, it's very likely would delay tax refunds and things like that, which voters will blame on somebody, and the Democrats and Republicans are very eager that whoever gets blamed, it's not them.

So, I think it's safer for them to figure out some way not to shut down the government, even if it involves temporary funding to keep talking.

CHURCH: Kicking the can down the road, perhaps. Of course, the last shutdown was the longest in U.S. history, lasting 35 days. Can this country handle another shut down if it comes to that and is that any way to run a country?

ERLANGER: Well, the last question I'll leave for others. It's a very odd way to run the country, but this is our system and this is the way we have confrontational politics, but very often you do find that our legislators do get together in the end and preserve a kind of unity. I mean, nobody is the enemy of federal workers and nobody wants to see them in trouble again.

[03:14:58] So here I think it's less about the reality of the problem and more about who might be blamed, the symbolism of the wall, the symbolism of immigration, the role at ICE. These are all political issues as we head into what is already turning out to be a very active presidential campaign season.

CHURCH: Indeed. Steven Erlanger, thank you so much for your analysis. Always appreciated.

ERLANGER: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: With Iran's Islamic Revolution, was it really a success? We will find out how it's being remembered there 40 years later. Plus, Venezuela's president promises to defend his country from foreign aggression. Ahead, his efforts to strengthen his military as the country's power struggle continues.

We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: A Bahraini footballer and refugee is said to walk free from a Thai prison. Hakeem al-Araibi was arrested in Bangkok last November. Bahrain originally wanted his extradition but Thai authorities say Bahrain has dropped that request.

[03:19:57] Al-Araibi fled Bahrain in 2014. He has refugee status in Australia and plays for a Melbourne club. He's been a critique of the Bahrain's government. And his supporters say the extradition request was politically motivated.

Well, Iran is marking the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. It toppled the shar and set in motion decades of mutual animosity with the United States. Thousands gathered at a state organized rally in Tehran just a short time ago to hear an address by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The Islamic Revolution set out to bring profound religious ideological and economic change. But do Iranians think it delivered on its promises? Our Fred Pleitgen is in Tehran. He got some answers for us. So, Fred, what are Iranians telling you about, what's been achieved?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly one of the most controversial questions I think for most Iranians. You know, if you ask a lot of people it's an event the Islamic Revolution happened here 40 years ago at transformed the lives of so many people, so many Iranians were obviously led this country and went abroad. Then obviously, all sorts of people who stayed here. And so, a lot of

people especially those living abroad would believe that the Islamic Revolution has not delivered on a lot of promises that it has made. But of course, a lot of the folks who stay here inside (Inaudible) especially at this rally that we're at here right now, they do believe that a lot of things were delivered on.

They believe that the Islamic republic today 40 years after the revolution, it is probably stronger politically and militarily than it has been at any point since the revolution, especially right now if you look at Iran's ballistic missile program. You look at the fact that Iran obviously has troops, for instance, in places like Syria and those who thinks close to a point to.

At the same time, of course, economically this country is in a lot of problems. There was a glimmer of hope for a lot of people in 2015 with the nuclear agreement.

But ever, since the Trump administration has really tightened sanctions against the Iranian government, and of course, also, against this country in general, the economy has been really in a downturn. The currency has been stumbling as well and many people are in a lot of hardship.

So, certainly, a lot of folks will tell you it's mixed results of the Islamic Revolution, but it is certainly something when you speak to a lot of Iranians is a very emotional day for them, and certainly one that is really transforming the trajectory not just of this country but certainly of the greater Middle East region.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to Fred Pleitgen reporting there from Tehran. A little hard to hear of course, but a great report. Many thanks.

Well, New developments in the Venezuelan power struggle. Embattled President Nicolas Maduro says he is beefing up his nation's defenses to prevent foreign aggression. During military exercises Sunday, he announced the purchase of thousands of surface-to-air missile launches from Russia. Mr. Maduro also warned U.S. President Donald Trump against taking action in the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLAS MADURO, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are a peaceful country. But we do not want anyone to get into our business that Donald Trump does not threaten us. Out Donald Trump from Venezuela, out your threats. Here we have armed forces and here is the people to defend the honor. The dignity and respect of the nation that has more than 200 years fighting for its future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Meanwhile, Mr. Maduro continues to prevent humanitarian aid from entering the country despite growing calls to accept the relieve shipments.

Stefano Pozzebon has more now from Caracas.

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: There's no end in sight at the humanitarian aid stalemates on the Colombia-Venezuelan border. On Sunday, doctors from Venezuela protested at the border demanding the opening of a humanitarian aid channel, demanding this humanitarian aid that are stockpiled in the city of Cucuta coming from Colombia and from the United States to be allowed into the country.

A call made its own by the leader of the opposition Juan Guaido who on Sunday here in Caracas demanded the opening of the border to let the humanitarian aid in. But at the same time, Nicolas Maduro, the embattled Venezuelan president who still has the support of the armed force is having none of it and reiterated his intention to keep the aid out of the country or keep this aid out of the country culminates a vessel of interference and endurance inside Venezuela.

And he made even clear how he wants to treat this interference from abroad by announcing the purchase of thousands of thousands of surface-to-air missile launcher from Russia, saying that these are weapons that will be used to defend the Venezuelan father land.

So why do we see the humanitarian aid still at the very bottom of these political stalemate here in Caracas. Neither of the two leader is walking down from the pressure, is able to find a common ground with the other side and try to broker a peaceful end to this dramatic stalemate.

[03:25:07] For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon.

CHURCH: The Venezuelan crisis has also had a huge impact on women before the downturn. Many of them worked as lawyers and nurses, but after the crisis hit, they were forced to take desperate measures just to survive.

CNN's Isa Soares brings us their story.

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the street corners in the main squares of Colombia's border city of Cucuta, Venezuelan women hide their pain behind their faint smiles. It's here I meet Marissa who trembles as she tells me her story.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SOARES: As a nurse back home, she worked 15 days for a bag of flour. Frustrated, desperate and unable to find work in a city with the highest unemployment in Colombia. She now sells her body to feed her children back home, earning a mere $6 per man. With each tear comes a drop of anger. The shame is over powering and keeping the secret is tearing her apart.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SOARES: On a different square just down the road I meet an experienced attorney, also selling sex to feed her two children and parents back in Venezuela.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SOARES: But the impossible, she tells me, has become a burden.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN, Cucuta, Colombia.

CHURCH: We'll take a short break here. But still to come, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren comes out swinging and her target, you guessed it, President Donald Trump. Coming up, her first campaign trip as an official presidential hopeful.

And we will update you on the scandals in Virginia that could cost the state's top elected officials their jobs.

Back in just a moment.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom." I'm Rosemary Church. I want to check the headlines for you this hour. A battle to seize the last ISIS enclave in Syria is raging near the Iraqi border. U.S.-backed fighters began an operation to take Baghouz Al-Fawqani on Saturday. CNN's Ben Wedeman is on the ground reporting exclusively from the scene of the battle. He says ISIS launched a counterattack earlier using fog as cover.

There is a growing fear in Washington that there could be another federal government shutdown. That is because progress has reportedly stalled in border security talks between lawmakers and the president. Mr. Trump tweeted that Democrats are behaving irrationally.

Another name to the list of U.S. Democratic presidential hopefuls, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and that's where she announced her run in the middle of a snowstorm. She told supporters her working class root can help win back support for those who voted for Donald Trump.

Klobuchar's announcement comes just a day after another senator, Elizabeth Warren, formally announced her bid for the presidency on a Sunday campaign trip to Iowa. She had some harsh words about President Trump. MJ Lee takes us there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MJ LEE, CNN U.S. POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Senator Elizabeth Warren making her first visit to the state of Iowa as a declared presidential candidate and in her first event of the day in Cedar Rapids, Senator Warren coming out swinging, taking on President Trump by name, something she has rarely done since she announced her exploratory campaign back on new year's eve. Take a listen to what she said.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Every day, there is a racist tweet, a hateful tweet, something really dark and ugly. Are we going to let him use those to divide us? You know, here is what bothers me. By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be president.

(APPLAUSE)

WARREN: In fact, he may not even be a free person.

LEE: Now, even though Senator Warren went after President Trump by name here in Iowa, she also made the point of saying this is not going to be a daily occurrence for her. She strongly believes that Democratic candidates should not be engaging President Trump on every single tweet or every single attack, but they have stay on message and talk about the policy positions that are important for the Democratic Party.

Now, I should note even though Senator Warren has been on the stump for well over a month now since announcing her exploratory campaign on New Year's eve, the campaigning is really just beginning for her because she announced her campaign officially just this weekend.

For example, next week, we are going to see her travel to states like South Carolina, Georgia, Nevada and California, just a sign that this is all just beginning for her, all as a 2020 field seems to grow by the day. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Thanks so much for that.

[03:35:00] Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar are among the six women who are either running or exploring a run for president. In all, that is now 11 Democrats so far.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam says he can help his state heal. A week ago, he was facing calls to resign after a racist photo from his yearbook surfaced. But since then, two other top government officials have been hit by scandals. As Kaylee Hartung reports, all three men are refusing to resign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Over the course of the past week depending on the day, it was a question of which one of Virginia's top three lawmakers could survive their respective scandal. All three of these men, all Democrats, are now saying they will not resign, starting with Virginia's governor, Ralph Northam, who has admitted to wearing black face when he was in college.

He spoke over the weekend saying he is best suited to help the people of the commonwealth heal from this difficult week that they have experienced. Virginia is a place with a history of racial division over the course of the last 400 years, this past week being a reminder of a not so distant past of those same troubles.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is facing accusations from two different women of sexual assault. He is calling for an investigation, saying that an investigation would clear his name. He wants the FBI to get involved. But both of these women are saying they will testify if impeachment proceedings do take place here in Virginia's legislature on Monday morning.

In fact, House of Delegates member, Patrick Hope, he is saying he will introduce articles of impeachment which will be taken to a vote on the House floor only if the speaker of the House allows it. It doesn't seem that that will be the case. Democrats are widely asking for his resignation. He continues to say the allegations against him are unsubstantiated and demonstrably false. The week of chaos will continue into this next week, we expect, here in Virginia.

Kaylee Hartung, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And coming up next, we will take you to the World Government Summit in Dubai, a gathering of some of the world's wealthiest movers and shakers where multibillion deals are being made. We will be back with that in just a moment.

[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say there are now about 800 cases of Ebola in the outbreak that began last year. More than 500 people have died including almost 100 children. The number of new cases spiked last month from around 20 a week to more than 40. That is according to the charity Save the Children. This is now the second deadliest and second largest Ebola outbreak in history, topped only by the 2014 crisis in West Africa which killed more than 11,000 people.

It is no secret that China is expanding its financial reach around the globe. In the United Arab Emirates, it is finding open arms. John Defterios takes us to the World Government Summit where multibillion deals are made.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Big deals, big agendas, an annual event to talk innovation and technology to spark growth. And the United Arab Emirates started with the two largest emerging projects.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not easy to do this project.

DEFTERIOS: According to the chairman of one of biggest conglomerates in the Gulf, cracking China was a major milestone.

MOHAMMED KHALAF AL HABTOOR, CHAIRMAN, AL HABTOOR GROUP: They accepted us as part of (INAUDIBLE) business. They appreciate our quality. They appreciate our standing (ph) because transparency in business is the most important.

DEFTERIOS: Trade between China and the UAE is forecasted to hit $70 billion by 2020. And with India, it is expected to exceed $100 billion in the same timeframe, pursuing projects in trade, energy and infrastructure. It all started in 2008 when prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, visited China, followed seven years later by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to strengthen ties.

Still bearing fruit, the Chinese shipping giant, Cosco, is opening a new terminal, spending over $300 million at Abu Dhabi's industrial zone, all part of the ambitious belt and road initiative.

India was the focus of last year's World Government Summit. Substantial deals have been made including state oil giants, ADNOC and Saudi Aramco, investing $44 billion dollars into a refinery in India, part of a wider strategy between the UAE and Saudi Arabia for oil and gas.

SULTAN AHMED AL JABER, DIRECTOR-GENERAL AND CEO, ADNOC: The fact that we are both joining hands, complimenting each other, building on their strength and then building on our strength, enough for us to be even more of a powerhouse catering for meeting the global energy requirements.

DEFTERIOS: The UAE is a country home to less than 10 million people and is clearly focused on harnessing the growth and investment of the world's two largest emerging markets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: John Defterios joins us now from Dubai to talk more about this. Hi, John.

DEFTERIOS: Thanks very much, Rosemary. We will delve a little bit deeper here on trade. Let's bring in the longest serving cabinet member, a minister of economy, now serving 12 years overall. It's incredible. Sultan Al Mansouri, it is good to have you on CNN.

SULTAN AL MANSOURI, UAE ECONOMY MINISTER: Thank you very much.

DEFTERIOS: I wanted to pick up on the thought here.

AL MANSOURI: Yeah.

DEFTERIOS: It's almost like a heat-seeking missile when the UAE decides to go after a country like China and then India and the strategic interest now in the horn of Africa and Ethiopia, a large economy. What is the strategy? How do you shape it in the cabinet?

AL MANSOURI: We're basically one team. There is direct instruction from the prime minister on, for example, focusing to set the nations with higher growth, with a better kind of political relations with, with stability in these nations. China and India are two of the most important trading partner for us.

Historically, they have been a strong trader with us. The oil trade is worth around a hundred -- more than $100 billion. We signed a cooperation agreement, a strategic cooperation agreement with India in 2017. Through that, of course, we have identified certain areas of cooperation both in terms of investments, which is almost now about $10 billion, but it is actually covering so many different areas, you know, logistics, which is very important for India to be able to move its economy.

DEFTERIOS: It's interesting you say that because I almost broke it down to three thoughts: trade, transport, and tourism.

AL MANSOURI: Absolutely.

DEFTERIOS: The three Ts.

AL MANSOURI: Yeah.

DEFTERIOS: And you go in with a bouquet offering and say this is what we can offer you, but they're receptive because they use UAE Dubai especially as a re-export hub.

[03:45:01] AL MANSOURI: Absolutely. I mean, this is where trade, for example, with India, is worth around -- (INAUDIBLE) is around $53 billion.

DEFTERIOS: On the phone (ph).

AL MANSOURI: Now, if you look at other aspect of it, the TV world (ph), for example, they have about six ports --

DEFTERIOS: A big port company. You have it.

AL MANSOURI: -- which is very important there also. Our investment in the pharmaceutical but also on areas such as the oil and gas, the importance of the growth of India and China that we see averaging over the last five years of almost about eight percent, which is really huge.

Now, to connect which is this is the important, into the system of the growth that they have and the demand of the different commodities through the UAE, for example, is something that expand also in terms of our trade and also investment in these nations.

So there is a much more commitment of the UAE into these nations, but also we feel that we are close to this nation because they understand us also much better.

DEFTERIOS: It's interesting, the language of business. You must be very worried about what you see happening right now, unfolding between the U.K. and the European Union. You're a big investor in the U.K. as a country.

AL MANSOURI: Yes.

DEFTERIOS: This is a disaster waiting to happen. You have to suggest, you have to be wondering what you are going to do with your investment and obviously the supply chain you have between U.K. and Europe.

AL MANSOURI: We believe number one that the U.K.-E.U. issue is an issue between the two parties. They need to make a decision, a very wise decision about the Brexit. The second is the U.K. and what is U.K. going to do on day one after Brexit. I mean, it is a free market before. It changes once this whole thing ends, which means that the U.K. has to do some decision about their future with our region, the Gulf Corporation Council, for example, with other nations. I know that they have signed an agreement with the Swiss --

DEFTERIOS: They're really late to the game.

AL MANSOURI: This kind of division takes years before they have been approved. So what we have done from our side is that we coordinated with a number of our private sector to make sure that they also are protected when it comes to (INAUDIBLE) whether it is in in the E.U. or in the U.K. And we make sure through these sorts of negotiation agreements we protect the interests of our company.

DEFTERIOS: Bigger investors.

AL MANSOURI: Yes.

DEFTERIOS: I really appreciate it. You just came off (INAUDIBLE).

AL MANSOURI: Thank you very much.

DEFTERIOS: Thank you very much for coming and running into our live shot position here. Sultan Al Mansouri is the minister of economy, Rosemary, here in the UAE, looking into the trade relationships and also the concerns they have about the Brexit, obviously, taking place right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Indeed. Thank you so much, John Defterios, appreciate it, reporting there from Dubai.

We are hitting the high notes of the Grammys, where it was a big night for women and hip-hop. Just ahead, a look at the top winners.

[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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CHURCH (voice-over): A historic night for hip-hop at the Grammy Awards Sunday. Rapper Childish Gambino won both song and record of the year with his hit, "This is America." Women were also big winners Sunday. Artists like Lady Gaga and Brandi Carlile each took home multiple awards.

For more on the music awards, let's bring in Xixi Yang. She is an entertainment journalist and joins me from Los Angeles. Good to see you.

XIXI YANG, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: Good to see you, too, Rosemary. What an incredible night in music. Now, I got to say the Grammys is always one of my favorite award shows to cover because I feel like there is just something so beautiful about the power of music, bringing together people from all walks of life, musicians from different genres.

And I was so excited to see the female empowerment movement that was in the room tonight. It is really refreshing to see that because if you remember, last year's Grammys was actually played with #GrammysSoMale controversy.

CHURCH: As you point out, women are the big winners this year. And of course, they took to the stage in such great form, and Dua Lipa called out Grammy president, Neil Portnow, in her speech when she won the best new artist award, saying women really stepped up. How did that play out? What was the response there?

YANG: I think the response was definitely shocking because, you know, Dua Lipa was not only the first artist to call out a recording academy. Ariana Grande openly boycotted the Grammys this year on her social media, saying she wouldn't be attending because initially they wanted her to perform a few of her songs but she did not want to compromise her artistic integrity.

So we definitely seen this movement of especially female artists being very candid and very vocal about standing up for what they believe in. I do want to say, I think Alicia Keys did an incredible job hosting the entire show. She is the first female host of the Grammys in all 14 years.

She went straight to the point. She set (ph) the tone in her opening monologue by bringing up her entire girl game (ph). She had Lady Gaga on stage with her, Jennifer Lopez, and perhaps the most surprising of them all, Michelle Obama. I know social media was buzzing about Michelle. They were so excited to see her.

CHURCH: Yeah, indeed. As you point out, Alicia Keys, she is spectacular talent. It was great to see a woman take charge of the show. I do want to talk about Childish Gambino's win, "This is America," won of course record of the year and song of the year, becoming the first rap song to win those awards. But the artist wasn't there to pick up his prize, having declined an invitation to perform. Why was that?

YANG: You know, Childish Gambino, I've actually interviewed him before at the Grammys in previous years, and he is an artist through and through. I think in the beginning, "This is America," it was such a powerful song. It was an even more powerful music video.

I think he just didn't receive the right type of support from the recording academy in the beginning so he was very vocal about wanting to come on to show himself on the big night, but it ended up winning, and this is the first time that a rap song won this category. So, that was definitely really monumental.

[03:55:02] Cardi B also made Grammy history tonight by being the first solo female artist to win rap album of the year. That was another huge moment not only for the rap community but also for female artists in general.

CHURCH: Indeed. Of course, I want to talk too about Drake because he called out the Grammy's race problem. But his speech was actually cut off. What did he say? What might be the ramifications of cutting him off like that particularly when he is talking about a subject like that?

YANG: You know, there was actually a bit of a technical difficulty because I think for the viewers watching at home, you know, I think everyone was kind of shocked. I was on my Twitter, on social media, looking at all the reactions that the production cut him off on purpose, but his mike actually dropped so I do believe that was actually a technical difficulty.

CHURCH: That will be interesting to see how that is received. And just before you go, just an overall sense, what do you think, how did this Grammy show compare to others in the past?

YANG: I think it was really exciting. I think Alicia Keys did an incredible job hosting. J. Lo's performance, her tribute to Motown was absolutely incredible. And I think overall it was definitely a win for the culture of music.

I know everyone was really excited to see not only hip-hop and rap finally dominating some of the categories and making Grammy history, but just female artists in general really coming out and supporting each other. It is a great time to be a woman.

CHURCH: Yeah, and that was clear with this show. Thank you so much, Xixi Yang, for talking to us about the Grammys and some great visuals there as we're chatting with you. Appreciate it.

And thank you for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. "Early Start" is next for our viewers here in the United States. For everyone else, stay tuned for more news with Max Foster in London. Have yourselves a great day.

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