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Brunei's Adultery & Anti-Gay Laws Go Into Effect Soon; Biden Responds to Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior; 60th Anniversary of Dalai Lama's Exile. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 1, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): No death penalty for the remaining woman accused of killing Kim Jong-un's half brother. We will go live to Hong Kong with the details for you.

Plus, it's no joke. A comedian is leading the pack in Ukraine's presidential elections.

And the White House doubles down on the U.S. president's threat to close the southern U.S. border with Mexico as he moves to cut Central American aid. We will talk about that this hour.

Hello, everyone, thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen in Atlanta and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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ALLEN: One of the women accused of murdering Kim Jong-un's half- brother has escaped the death penalty but not jail time. Doan Thi Huong was accused of murdering Kim Jong-nam in 2017 by smearing poison on his face. She has now accepted a plea deal which will keep her in jail until next year.

Her alleged accomplice was released in early March after all charges were dropped against her.

Ivan Watson is following the story, he's joining us now from Hong Kong with the details.

This case it certainly unraveling as far as what these women are seeing as the outcome.

Was this expected, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly the abrupt dropping of charges and the release of the other accused individual last month really threw a wrench into this case and raised some very serious questions about how it was going to go further.

Now it appears we have the answer for the trial of one of the most brazen assassinations in living history, this murder of the half- brother of North Korea's leader with VX nerve agent, all in front of security cameras in Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The remaining subject appeared in court today and was offered a plea deal. The prosecutors removed the murder charge and then downgraded it to voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.

The judge explained that Doan Thi Huong faced, if she pled guilty -- and she did -- a charge of up to 10 years in jail, a fine and whipping. The judge said that women are not to be whipped in Malaysia, so she escapes that. He said that she is a very lucky woman and he only gave her a total of three years, about four months in prison.

She should be released in a little over a year since she has already served time since her arrest in 2017 shortly after the murder was committed. The Vietnamese ambassador was on the scene; he said he was pleased about the result here.

This does seem to wrap up, again, this brazen murder that took place involving a chemical of mass destruction.

ALLEN: Ivan, both these women claim that they were tricked, that they didn't know that they were doing. Is that right?

Where does that leave the murder and who ultimately was behind it?

WATSON: Both women pled not guilty initially. They claimed they felt they were participating in a reality TV show prank program and their defense offered a video that they had films in the past.

And their defense argued that the true suspect here were the North Korean agents that had manipulated these women into smearing the nerve agent on the face of the target, on the face of the victim.

The judge argued, however, as did the prosecutor, that there had to be a deterrent for such a blatant crime and that is why somebody had to take the rap here. And that's what seemed happened with Doan Thi Huong.

She has pled guilty, she has admitted to wrongdoing here in this murder but not for the charge of murder but for the softer charge of voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons; in this case, the weapon was the VX nerve agent.

ALLEN: Ivan Watson with the latest, we thank you so much.

We turn to Turkey. Preliminary results showed that President Erdogan's ruling party is leading --

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ALLEN: -- in a majority the local municipal elections, according to state media. Ballots are still being counted, the main opposition party leader says that his party won in Istanbul. We will bring you more on the election results as details become available.

In Europe, remarkable developments in another major election, this one, in Ukraine. Exit polls in the country's presidential racial show comedian Volodymyr Zelensky won the first round, followed by incumbent Petro Poroshenko. If the polls are correct, the candidates now face a runoff in April. For more about, it here is CNN's Fred Pleitgen.

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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky is certainly no laughing matter in the first round of the Ukrainian presidential election.

Now according to exit polls, it looks like he's on top after that first round. It seems as though his political inexperience. He's never had any sort of public office might have also have been one of the positives, at least for many voters, because no experience also means no political baggage as well.

One of the things that Zelensky was running on is, of course, a platform of anti-corruption, which is a giant issue in Ukraine. Now Zelensky came out and he thanked all the people who voted for him. He's now in prime position to possibly win a run-off that's going to take place on April 21st. Now behind him, things could be a little bit murky as far as the field of candidates is concerned.

At least according to most exit polls, the current incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, is in second place, which would qualify him for a run-off but Poroshenko making no disguise of his disappointment in the results. He said that he had heard the message of voters. And he said that especially young voters are people that he wants to appeal to.

He said he understands that reforms in the country have not gone fast enough. Now a bit of a wild card is Yulia Tymoshenko. She used to be the prime minister. According to most exit polls, she seems to be in the third place. However, so far, she's not buying it. She said according to her own exit polls, she believes that she's actually in second place and would therefore qualify for a run-off.

So certainly, things still very interesting as the votes are being counted, as all these candidates are looking forward to a run-off that's going to take place on April 21st -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

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ALLEN: It is becoming a familiar refrain out of the U.K. The British Parliament is scrambling to save, you know it, Brexit. On Monday, lawmakers are set to vote on alternative options for how the U.K. could leave the E.U, a customs union with the U.S. is thought to be the most likely preference.

After Parliament shut down the prime minister's withdrawal deal for a third time last week, time is now running before the April 12th deadline. Everyone, including Theresa May supporters, are ready for some closure.

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DAVID GAUKE, BRITISH JUSTICE SECRETARY: My view is that the best outcome is the prime minister's deal. But if that is not the favored outcome of Parliament then we would need to consider what parliament does want to do. At the moment all we've seen is what Parliament doesn't want to do.

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ALLEN: British media report that Theresa May is expected to hold a fourth vote on her withdrawal bill and, if it fails again, there is speculation she might call a snap election. One of her party members was asked if they were planning on that.

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JAMES CLEVERLY, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: We're not planning for a general election. The Conservative Party --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you preparing for one?

CLEVERLY: Well, I'll be completely straight with you. We have got a -- we have got a minority government in a turbulent time. So we, you know, just in terms of sensible, pragmatic planning but we are not seeking, preparing in that kind of sense that I think you mean for a general election.

What the -- what the government, what the party, what MPs are focused on, for the most part and should be focused on, is delivering Brexit.

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ALLEN: Even with votes scheduled in Parliament and a creeping deadline putting pressure on lawmakers, anything is still possible with Brexit.

What could be next?

Well, one option is that the U.K. could leave the E.U. with no deal on April 12th. For some, that is the worst-case scenario. The U.K. could also ask the E.U. if it could stay in the European Union for a much longer period. If that happens, the U.K. will have to hold elections for the European Parliament in May this year.

Theresa May's offer to resign was conditional on the passage of her Brexit deal. Her political future now in doubt. The prime minister could also ask the queen to dissolve Parliament and call a general election.

Let's talk about what's on the table with CNN European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joining us from Los Angeles.

[00:10:00] ALLEN: Dominic, we've gotten to where we really rely on you. So thank you for the time. A lot on the table this week. Let's begin with what happens on Monday. Parliament tackles Brexit options. One of the favorites involves a soft Brexit and the U.K. remaining in a customs union. Let's talk about that first.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: As you rightly said, nothing -- everything is possible, which means nothing is impossible. As we left about the other day, Monday also happens to be April Fool's Day, so it's going to be especially interesting to watch this.

The customs union is probably the most interesting aspect of the discussion on Monday. Yet again, there are eight motions that have been approved and will be discussed, four old ones and for new ones.

What's interesting about the customs union is that there appears to be some consensus around this but most of the support comes from the opposition. When it was first voted on, only 33 conservative MPs supported it, so it's really an opposition party issue.

But it does look like it is the most popular of all the options. The problem with that option as far as the prime minister is concerned, because she would be well advised to look at and think carefully about what Parliament tells her at the conclusion of the day Monday, is this is a by no means a Conservative Party policy. So the government could be asked to legislate on something it does not approve and it is certainly the last thing that the far-right Brexiteers would like, because it involves a very close relationship with the European Union and it makes it impossible for them to strike those free trade agreements that are so dear to the Brexiteer narrative of promoting a global Britain.

So this is an interesting situation that we could end up with. And the big question, of course, is whether or not those Brexiteers will tolerate this or prefer an alternative option, which is, of course, the question of a general election. All of that assuming that Theresa May's deal does not make this way through as well during the week.

ALLEN: Let's talk about that, because that would be a fourth attempt on her part. Do you expect she will go for that?

Would it have a chance?

THOMAS: On the other hand, there is little support from the other side of the aisle. The only way that the Brexiteers have agreed to support her is if she would actually step down. At the moment, you hear the Conservative Party reluctant to talk about a general election because they are still trying to control the narrative.

It's far better for them to pass at least a withdrawal agreement and achieve Brexit. It is better for the prime minister to achieve Brexit and to have fulfilled her mandate, essentially.

This allows the Conservative Party to control the narrative, because if Theresa May's steps down, they can hold an internal election and ideally, for their sake, bring one of the Brexiteers to the position of prime minister and then control the post Brexit negotiations.

So that's why you hear some reluctance on their part to talk about a general election, because the outcome of that would, of course, be highly unpredictable.

ALLEN: What about that online petition, Dominic, to cancel the whole Brexit idea?

Some might say that might be April Fool's but no, it has 6 million signatures. Does that carry any weight?

THOMAS: The first amendment that was passed to provide the general public, a people's vote on either a no deal or any deal that was approved by Parliament, is there again for a discussion tomorrow but a new amendment has also been added, so two of the eight pertained to people and that one for typically refers to a no deal.

And we do know that that is the one thing that Parliament has consistently supported, is not having a no deal. So will be interesting to see whether that particular motion is able to garner support and the fact that a second one has been introduced and kept on the table is a strong indication that the parliamentarians are listening to the people on these particular issues.

Ultimately, the big question will be whether it is a people's vote that prevails or whether the people get to weigh in through a general election, which could ultimately be far less controversial than going back and having a second referendum.

ALLEN: It does seem like anyone's guess at this point. And add April Fool's Day into the mix and, oh, my goodness. We'll talk with you again, thank you so much.

THOMAS: Great, thank you, Natalie.

ALLEN: Let's turn to the United States of America, which is cutting off aid to three countries in Central America. This despite reports the aid is still working, we will look at how U.S. policies may be improving conditions ahead and reaction to President Trump's plan.

Much more ahead, thank you so much for staying with us.

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ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

The White House is defending President Trump's threats to close the U.S.-Mexico border and to cut off aid to three Central American countries. The president went on a Twitter offensive this weekend. He fired off this. "The Democrats are allowing a ridiculous asylum system and major

loopholes to remain as a mainstay of our immigration system. Mexico is likewise doing nothing, a very bad combination for our country."

He also closed with a vague threat, saying this, "Homeland Security is being so very nice but not for long"

The White House is not just threatening to seal the border, the State Department is saying it is cutting off aid to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Mr. Trump accused them of setting up migrant caravans. The acting White House chief of staff backed him on Sunday.

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MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: There's a lot of good ways to help solve this problem. Congress could do it, but they're not going to. Mexico could help us do it. They need to do a little bit more.

Honduras could do more. Nicaragua could do more. El Salvador --

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MULVANEY: -- could do more. And if we're going to give these countries hundreds of millions of dollars, we would like them to do more.

That, Jake, I would respectfully submit to you, is not an unreasonable position. We could prevent a lot of what's happening on the southern border by preventing people from moving into Mexico in the first place.

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ALLEN: Customs officials say there is a crisis on the border and is pushing them into the breaking point, they are dealing with the surge of Central American migrants and facilities are packed way beyond capacity.

Thousands of migrants have been released over the past week in South Texas with more expected in the coming days. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in El Paso.

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ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Communities like El Paso here along the U.S. southern border, where we are waiting to see, if President Trump is going to follow through on his threat of closing down the border.

Here in El Paso, this is one of the main bridges that takes you from the United States into Mexico, into Juarez, Mexico. Tens of thousands of people use bridges just like this up and down the border here in Texas, which crosses the Rio Grande and also other ports of entry from New Mexico all the way to California. It would be a significant blow to local economies and local communities if these ports of entry are closed. Not to mention just to people -- everyday crossing you see family and friends to get to work, to get to school, but also economically.

There are millions of trucks with goods that cross back and forth across these border points of entry everyday.

It is part of the economic engine that exists daily between Mexico and the United States. So the threat of closing down these border points of entry is taken very seriously here along the U.S. southern border.

And then there's the question of what is being done to process the large amounts of migrants that are coming here to the U.S. southern border.

Just underneath this bridge over the last few days, there had been hundreds of migrants that are essentially being stored there by border patrol agents as they waited to process these newly arrived migrants.

We're told, as the images of these people standing behind these chained link fences started to circulate around the world, that area has been shut down and that those migrants have been moved to other facilities.

But customs and border protection officials say they are in pace for a significant number of apprehensions here in the month of March alone. Over 100,000, and if those numbers hold true, that would be the largest number that they've seen here along the U.S. southern border in more than a decade.

So critics of the administration say that the administration is simply trying to create a sense of chaos with the images coming out of the border to try to bolster their argument for the national emergency, and building more border wall in these types of communities.

So that is what is going on here. Many people looking here toward the week ahead as to what is going to happen next and if President Trump is going to follow through on that threat of closing down the border ports of entry -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Paso, Texas.

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ALLEN: Joining me now is Liz Schrayer, president and CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, which advocates for strong U.S. global leadership through development and leadership.

Thank you for being with us.

LIZ SCHRAYER, GLOBAL LEADERSHIP COALITION: Thank you for having me, Natalie.

ALLEN: Let's talk about this situation; first, why are so many people coming en masse, from these countries that make up the Northern Triangle, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador.

What are the systemic problems?

SCHRAYER: Such an important question, Natalie. This is a very dangerous policy to cut aid to Central America, aid to -- American aid is not a charity; this is international national security interest. Especially when we are talking about Central America.

If we cut this very small amount of aid, we are doing it at our own peril. And to answer your question, what we are investing in is addressing the root causes of people that are driving people from their homes. When you think about what is happening in the Northern Triangle areas, it is brutal violence and hunger. It is instability.

And when I think about what it would mean to cut off the aid, this will exacerbate the problem and unrest. I think about what makes a father and mother actually begin this perilous journey and it is really that the alternative is so much worse. Cutting this aid is going to exacerbate the problem, not help it.

ALLEN: Can you give us more examples of -- choose a country -- what people are dealing with and why they don't see a way out, other than just to get to the U.S. border?

SCHRAYER: Let me give you an example of what they're dealing with and what our programs are doing. This is a very small amount of money, we give about 1 percent of our federal budget to foreign assistance.

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SCHRAYER: We give to the Central America region 2 percent of the 1 percent. We have actually cut it by 20 percent in the last two years.

So let me talk about one of the programs and what people are dealing with and how we are addressing it. It this region is one of the most difficult murder rates in the world, so we took a program, a playbook out of a high risk neighborhoods in our country, Los Angeles.

We built a program; USAID administers it in El Salvador. The program addresses the homicide rates. What we found is, for every 10 murders, six children actually go to our borders.

So these programs that we have seen in Los Angeles, we brought to El Salvador, it is a youth center, where we take the kids out of the streets and give vocational programs. In El Salvador, where these programs exist, the homicide rates drop 78 percent. So these are programs that really make a difference in the region.

Is there a country that the U.S. has assisted, that you saw, did turn things around?

SCHRAYER: One of the best examples of success, is in the region, Colombia. In the mid-1990s it was a narcoterrorist country, causing enormous security problems not only for the region but for our country.

Democrats and Republicans over multiple administrations got together with Defense, our defense programs and our diplomats and we invested in it.

Today not only is Colombia a great security partner but they're also an economic powerhouse for us. We export $50 billion to Colombia. We have increased our exports over 400 percent just in the last decade.

ALLEN: We appreciate your insights, Liz Schrayer joining us.

SCHRAYER: Thank you for having me, Natalie.

ALLEN: Calls are growing for the boycott of hotels linked to the country of Brunei over its brutal new anti-gay laws spearheaded by the sultan. More on the international outrage coming next.

Also ahead, former U.S. vice president Joe Biden defending himself against allegations he made this former politician feel uneasy.

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ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories for you this hour.

[00:31:07]: One of the women accused of killing Kim Jong-un's half- brother has accepted a plea deal. She could be released next month after pleading guilty to voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous means.

Back in 2017, Doan Thi Huong and another women were charged with killing Kim Jong-Nam by smearing poison on his face. Her alleged accomplice, an Indonesian national, was freed in early March after all charges were dropped against her.

On Monday, British Parliament is set to vote on options for how to leave the E.U. It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal bill was defeated for a third time.

One of the options is for a so-called soft Brexit, which will leave Brexit in a customs union with the E.U.

Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussel died Sunday after a shooting near a clothing store he was associated with in Los Angeles. A police official says two other people wounded in the shooting are in stable condition. No word yet on suspects. The rapper was set to meet Monday with L.A. police to discuss solutions to gang violence.

Venezuela's embattled president has announced a 30-day plan to ration electricity. This after recurring blackouts have left many in the dark and disrupted water services. Nicholas Maduro says the plan will focus on getting water to the people.

Later this week, a controversial law goes into effect in the Southeast Asian country of Brunei that will punish adultery and homosexual sex with death. Anyone found guilty will be stoned to death.

The strict new laws were announced by the sultan of Brunei back in 2014 and being phased in. Brunei officials say the sultan does not expect other people to accept and agree with it, but his country has no plans to stop the law amid international pressure. Let's talk about it with CNN's Alexandra Field. She joins us from

Hong Kong with reaction. And we know that there are a lot of people around the world, many celebrities, calling for boycotts that may affect Brunei. What can you tell us, Alex?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly, this is raising international outcry. And even back in Brunei, people believed that it would not come to this. Yes, Sharia law was announced back in 2014. The first phases of the law were implemented. Those addressed low-level crimes with low-level penalties, like prison time and fees. But certainly, people believed that they would not see what are considered crimes, like adultery and homosexuality, under Sharia law actually put into law with punishments with stoning to death.

So certainly, you are seeing outcry around the world. But celebrities are leading the charge. You've got George Clooney calling for the boycott of nine hotels that are owned by the Brunei Investment Group, which is controlled by the sultan of Brunei. He wrote an editorial laying out his position, asking people to boycott the hotels. Here's what Clooney had to say.

He wrote that, "On this particular April 3, the nation of Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay. Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism, this stands alone."

Clooney also being backed by another celebrity, Elton John, who says, "Discrimination on the basis of sexuality is plain wrong and has no place in any society. That's why I commend my friend George Clooney for taking a stand and calling out the anti-gay discrimination and bigotry now being enshrined in law in the nation of Brunei, a place where gay people are brutalized or worse. I believe that love is love, and being able to level as we choose is a basic human right. Wherever we go, my husband David and I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, as do each and every one of the millions of LGBTQ people around the world."

[00:35:06] Powerful words from those celebrities. Of course, we have also heard international political figures echoing these calls to put an end to the plan to implement these tenets of the law later this week, Natalie.

The hotels that are being directly targeted by this boycott, most of them have not commented directly on the call for boycott itself. Instead, they've put out statements reaffirming values of integrity, diversity, and inclusion. The Meurice Hotel in Paris, one of the hotels being targeted for boycott, has also put out a statement not directly addressing that boycott, but saying that it supports LGBTQ rights -- Natalie.

ALLEN: We just saw a picture of the Beverly Hills Hotel. It just sounds outrageous that such a place would be associated with this country that is going to stone people.

We'll continue to follow it, of course. Alexandra Field, thanks so much.

Former U.S. vice president and prospective presidential candidate Joe Biden says not once, never, in all his years on the campaign trail, did he ever believe he acted inappropriately.

Biden was responding to allegations from a former Nevada state lawmaker named Lucy Flores. She says Biden made her feel uneasy, gross, and confused before a campaign event in 2014. Here's her description of what happened.

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LUCY FLORES, FORMER NEVADA STATE LAWMAKER: Very unexpectedly, and out of nowhere, I feel Joe Biden put his hand on my shoulders, get up very close to me from behind, lean in, smell my hair, and then plant a slow kiss on the top of my head.

And that, in and of itself, might not sound like it's a very serious thing. That, in and of itself, might sound like it was innocent and well-intentioned. But in the context of it, as a person that had absolutely no relationship with him afterwards, as a candidate who was preparing to make my case for why I should be elected the second in command in that state, to have the vice president of the United States do that to me, so unexpectedly, and just kind of out of nowhere, it was just shocking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Well, Biden's team put out a statement on Friday, saying that he had no inkling she had been uncomfortable. Then on Saturday, they called him a champion for women, and now there's a statement from Biden himself that reads this, quote, "In my many years on the campaign trail, and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support, and comfort. And not once, never, did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully, but it was never my intention."

Sixty years ago, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet. The icon's age and health are calls for concern, as many wonder what's next for others living in exile. We'll have a story for you, coming next.

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ALLEN: It's been 60 years since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet and went into exile. The Nobel Peace Prize winner became one of the great voices of Buddhism, but to the Chinese government he was a, quote, "wolf in monk's robes."

Here's CNN's Kristie Lu Stout with the story.

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KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been 60 years since the Dalai Lama last set foot in the land of his birth, Tibet. He was identified as the new Tibetan leader by a delegation of monks when he was only a child, and he was given full status as Dalai Lama at the tender age of 15, a process that was sped up as Chinese troops marched over the highlands into Tibet to take control in 1950.

Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung offered autonomy but demanded obedience from people in the region. The Dalai Lama took part in a series of peace talks with communist officials, but then, there was an unsuccessful armed uprising against the Chinese in Lhasa on March the 10th, 1959. And the same year this photo was taken, showing the Dalai Lama on his throne in Lhasa, he fled across the Himalayas into India.

Since then, the Dalai Lama has lived in exile in northern India. In 1989, he won a Nobel Peace Prize for his dedication to the nonviolent liberation of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama has always said he has only ever wanted enough autonomy to protect traditional Buddhist culture in Tibet. Chinese authorities insist he is a separatist, trying to establish an independent Tibet, calling him a wolf in monk's robes.

Beijing says the Tibetan region has been China's territory for centuries and denies any oppression since 1950, saying living standards have greatly improved for the Tibetan people.

In 2008, there were days of demonstrations which turned into riots in Lhasa. That led to a crackdown in which Chinese state media says 20 people were killed. Tibetan exiles say it was more like 150.

In 2011, the Dalai Lama announced plans to devolve his political power to an elected leader of the Tibetan exile movement. A few years later, in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, he explained.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Might you be the last Dalai Lama?

DALAI LAMA, TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER: It's possible, the last Dalai Lama. This is how I feel. I personally feel better. The people should take full responsibility.

STOUT: Beijing says any new Dalai Lama chosen in Tibet would have to be approved by the communist government, leading the current Dalai Lama to speculate his successor could come from outside of China.

In 2016, CNN's Matt Rivers was one in a group of journalists who were able to make a rare visit to Tibet on a state-controlled trip. Buddhism is one of five officially recognized religions in China but under tight government supervision and surveillance, and that is very much the case for the six to 8 million Tibetan Buddhists, many who have left the region.

There have been campaigns to get people to denounce the Dalai Lama, and in response, forms of protest include scores of self-immolations.

(on camera): But the Dalai Lama, now well into his eighties, remains the most influential figure for Tibetans, even though he has long said he is devoted to serving all of China's Buddhists. The Dalai Lama is unlikely to be able to visit the land of his birth again, in this lifetime.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Pope Francis is back in the Vatican after his two-day visit to Morocco. Upon his return, he denounced government leaders who build walls to keep out migrants.

The pope said, "Those who build walls will become prisoners of the walls they put up. This is history."

He was responding to a reporter's question about nations that erect barriers to migrants, including the United States of America and Spain.

That is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. WORLD SPORT is coming your way next. I'll be back at the top of the hour for another hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Hope to see you.

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