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CNN NEWSROOM

British Citizens Respond to Brexit; Japan's Foreign Minister, Taro Kono, is Interviewed on Rift with South Korea; Authorities: Early Blazes an 'Omen' of What's to Come. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 10, 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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NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Defiant in the face of defeat, Boris Johnson vows to deliver Brexit without any more delays.

Victims of Hurricane Dorian hoping to flee to the U.S. But Donald Trump says the country must be very careful about letting them in.

Plus, feared dead, found alive: the incredible moment four crew members were pulled from their capsized cargo ship.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I'm Nick Watt and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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WATT: We begin with Boris Johnson's long, dark night of the soul and another dispiriting defeat for the U.K.'s rookie prime minister, his second attempt to call a snap general election rejected by British lawmakers late Monday night. He's not happy.

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BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: They have now twice denied the British people their say in the election. The House cannot choose, it will not let anyone else choose, Mr. Speaker. It resolved only to be relently (ph) resident, decides only to be undecided, determined to dill adamant for adrift.

And, so now, the House will move to adjourn and resume the state opening in the Queen's Speech on October the 14th and I hope the opposition will use that time to reflect.

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WATT: Parliament is now suspended on Mr. Johnson's orders for the next five weeks. The Speaker, who's acted as zookeeper of the house in these fractious times, also announced that he will resign.

So, what now? Well Johnson is under orders from Parliament to seek an extension to delay Brexit beyond October 31st to avoid a no-deal exit. That's something that Mr. Johnson says he will not do.

Let's get more on this extraordinary night in London from CNN's Bianca Nobilo.

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BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Boris Johnson's call for an election was defeated, 293 votes to 46, falling well short of the two-thirds majority needed under the fixed term Parliaments act to trigger an early election.

Another key development of the day is the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, a controversial figure in the Brexit process has announced that he will be stepping down, effective on the 31st of October.

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JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER, HOUSE OF COMMONS: I have served as a member of Parliament for 22 years and for the last 10, as Speaker. This has been -- let me put it explicitly -- the greatest privilege and honor of my professional life, for which I will be eternally grateful.

I wish my successor in the chair, the very best fortune in standing up for the rights of honorable and right honorable members, individually and for Parliament institutionally, as the Speaker of the House of Commons. Thank you.

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NOBILO: What now?

Well, Parliament has been prorogued, meaning it is suspended and the House will not be sitting for another five weeks, returning on the 14th of October.

Between now and then, we will see the party conferences of all the major and minor parties who are playing bigger roles now, as the parliamentary arithmetic gets ever more confusing.

Boris Johnson will be sure to be pounding the pavements, continuing in his role of prime minister, trying to win the hearts and minds of the electorate in advance of the election which he is still keen to get but far from obtaining -- Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.

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WATT: Joining me now is Garret Martin. He's a professor at the School of International Service at American University.

Garret, I like to think I know a lot about Brexit. I normally have a hunch as to where things are going. Partly what makes this so exciting, I have zero hunch whatsoever. What do you think is going to happen here?

GARRET MARTIN, PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL SERVICE AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Well, if anybody tells you they know where this is going, they're really not being honest.

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MARTIN: I mean, this has been a very confusing set of events in the last few weeks and there are plenty of options down the line, many of them which are not palatable for Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson has lost many battles in the last week. He's lost six major votes in six days. And let's see. If we're reviewing his the options, one of them could be to try and do what to reason they failed to do in two years and he would have eight weeks to try and negotiate a new deal. That's certainly unlikely.

WATT: But he doesn't want a new deal really.

MARTIN: It doesn't look like it for the moment. I mean, the echoes that we've had from the negotiations in Brussels certainly don't show any serious commitments. We haven't seen any serious proposals to deal or to propose an alternative to the backstop. So that certainly doesn't seem that a deal is what he wants.

WATT: But -- so where we are right now is -- I mean I just watched Caroline Lucas stand up in Parliament and say that the government is feral, that the country is broken. We've now had Boris Johnson has suspended the Parliament. No one will sit at all for five weeks during one of the most crucial periods in post-war British parliamentary history. No one will sit.

Johnson has been told by Parliament he must ask for an extension, he has said that he will not. So again, I just don't know where we're going.

MARTIN: I'm with you. I mean, I think what struck me if you look at the closing statements by both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn after the results were announced, it really looked like the opening salvo of an election that is going to happen at some point in another. The key question is when.

For Boris Johnson, I think he was keen to have the election happened before Brexit day. That's not going to happen. For Jeremy Corbyn, I think he really wants to be able to show the public that he defended and prevented a no-deal. So for him, the longer you wait and if you have an election in November or December, he assumes it gives him the chance to strengthen his case.

The other unknown factor is what the other E.U. 27 going to do. They're certainly clearly fed up by the saga that seems to be never- ending. The French have sent certain signals that they might not offer an extension in the current circumstances.

So it's possible that Boris Johnson could make himself a nuisance and try to encourage, try to push the E.U. 27 to do his bidding for him. WATT: I mean, that would be the best-case scenario for him is the French saying no we won't give you the extension. But when it comes down to the wire, I don't believe that the French would actually do that.

MARTIN: I agree with you. I think there are -- there are internal divisions within E.U. 27. We saw that last in the spring when the push came to shove. They didn't seem to be a willingness to go to for the no-deal option.

That being said, I think there's also the economic context that's going to play a role. I mean, we've seen the German economy being on the brink of recession. And so the idea of another shock of a no-deal Brexit might really lead them not to take that step.

So I agree with you, ultimately. I don't think they will do so but Boris Johnson might try the much as possible to make himself a nuisance.

WATT: We talk a lot about Boris Johnson, but the opposition, the kind of anti-Brexit block, they don't seem to have a totem to coalesce around. I mean, if the Labour Party had a leader right now who was perhaps more palatable to a broad swath of the country, would things be different? Would things be different if Jeremy Corbyn was not the Labour leader right now?

MARTIN: I think the personality matters here and certainly Jeremy Corbyn is not a particularly popular figure and not a particularly popular figure with the other major opposition parties. So the idea of creating a broader-based opposition hasn't really worked out.

But to be fair to Jeremy Corbyn, he's also facing a situation, a party that has its own divisions over the issue of Brexit. You have a number of Labour constituencies that voted for leave.

There also Labour MPs who represent those constituencies find themselves in a difficult position. And you have a real gamut of positions within Labour Party.

WATT: Garret Martin, I am no clearer than I was five minutes ago and I do not mean that as a slight on you. These are unprecedented times. Thank you very much.

MARTIN: Thank you, Nick.

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WATT: Meanwhile, Donald Trump just offered up a pre-taste of his campaign messaging for 2020. At a rally in North Carolina, supporting a Republican congressional candidate, the U.S. president described on Tuesday's special election as a fight against the, quote, "America- hating left, AKA the Democrats."

The rally coming after a difficult weekend for Mr. Trump. He claims he took his own advice and canceled talks with the Taliban that he had invited them to his rural retreat outside Washington. Boris Sanchez has the details.

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BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just two days after canceling a planned summit at Camp David with leaders from the Taliban that he himself suggested, President Donald Trump telling reporters today that peace talks are:

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dead, as far as I'm concerned.

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TRUMP: And we have hit the Taliban harder in the last four days that they have been hit in over 10 years.

SANCHEZ: Trump, frustrated with the pace of negotiations, had called for a face-to-face negotiation with the Taliban at Camp David during a meeting over Labor Day weekend, despite objections from top advisers.

Sources say Trump liked the optics of being seen personally as securing a historic deal in a presidential setting, where decades ago negotiations between the U.S., Egypt and Israel led to the Camp David accords.

Officials say vice president Mike Pence and national security adviser John Bolton argued against meeting at Camp David, but Trump overruled them. Today, Trump pushed back on that story, though he admitted he thought hosting the Taliban at Camp David just days before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was a good idea.

TRUMP: Actually, in terms of advisers, I took my own advice. I like the idea of meeting. I have met with a lot of bad people and a lot of good people. It was my idea. And it was my idea to terminate it. I didn't even -- I didn't discuss it with anybody else.

SANCHEZ: The meeting set for this weekend was scrapped because the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack that killed one service member and 11 others.

Trump now says he believes the Taliban regrets that attack. Some lawmakers voicing opposition to the meeting, including the third highest ranking Republican in the House, Liz Cheney, tweeting: "No member of the Taliban should ever set foot in Camp David ever."

And GOP congressman Michael Waltz, an Army veteran, who served in Afghanistan:

REP. MICHAEL WALTZ (R-FL): As we head into the anniversary of 9/11, I do not ever want to see these terrorists step foot on the United States soil, period.

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(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WATT: For more on this, political analyst Michael Genovese joins us now from Los Angeles. Michael, as so often with this president, it's often hard to tell what's true and what's not.

But on this Taliban issue, is this in your opinion a president coming up on an election campaign desperate for some sort of foreign policy success and therefore doing of all things inviting the Taliban to Camp David?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's hard to make foreign policy in the middle of a campaign. We're at the beginning of a campaign and the president definitely needs may be even as desperate as you said for victory especially in foreign affairs. He's not had a lot of good news of late.

And so the president -- and it was a bizarre situation today because he publicly tweets that a secret meeting that he was organizing is not going to take place.

So why do you even bother to do that? You do that because you want to be that the action player. You want to be the center of attention. You want to be the guy who makes decisions, who has seen as the decision-maker.

But the problem is in a situation like this, when you're -- when you're the center of attention, you've got to have something to offer. And what he's offering now is the cancellation of a meeting.

This is an incredibly complex situation. This is -- this is not a simple thing. And you can see the partisan divisions are breaking down. Republicans criticizing the president on this and so it's a very complex situation.

You have to deal with the Taliban if you're going to deal with the Afghanistan problem. But dealing with them is also a big risk. And so the president I think fumbled this yet again because he doesn't really have a strategy. It's all very personal.

Now, it was widely reported that both Vice President Pence and national security adviser Bolton disagreed with the president and they quickly tried to dismiss that. That's actually wrong. It is important to have disagreements to argue, to discuss things, to have different sides and let the president decide.

And so when you force people in your administration to go in lockstep behind you, that's a very bad sign.

WATT: And he's been getting attacked from both sides over this plan to actually bring the Taliban onto U.S. soil. That was seen as just a grave mistake and a grave kind of sleight to those who died on 9/11. I mean, there's been a unified voice against that.

GENOVESE: Well, the president was politically tone-deaf on that and morally tone-deaf. These are the people who were harboring Osama bin Laden, who are protecting him from the United States, who were using their bases in Afghanistan to set up training to fight against the United States.

And so to bring them onto the 9/11 weekend, to bring them to Camp David which is to bring them, to elevate them into a high status is a huge mistake. It's important to deal with them. It's important to talk with them. It's important to try to put pressure on them and meet with them, but you don't hand them things that they haven't earned.

They haven't had a ceasefire. They're not working with the Afghan government. You need to get them to at least come partially to the table before you start offering them all these goodies.

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WATT: Michael, I want to shift gears completely now to the Bahamas. Now, obviously, those islands are devastated by Hurricane Dorian. There's been some confusion over whether people fleeing that disaster would be allowed into the U.S. just with their passport and no visa. Let's take a quick listen to what President Trump had to say on this today.

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TRUMP: We have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation because the -- look, the Bahamas has some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren't supposed to be there.

I don't want to allow people that weren't supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.

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WATT: Bad people, drug dealers, gang members. We've heard this before. What is the president talking about, or is this just him tickling the belly of his base?

GENOVESE: Well, it's an old presidential trope that he keeps on pulling out seemingly without indiscriminately. This is a humanitarian crisis of very high proportion. These are people who are suffering.

We need to respond in this way -- in this crisis to the humanitarian crisis that -- in our hand. And the president really tried to politicize it, he tried to make it into an issue that it really wasn't.

Yes, there are gang members and there are bad people and there are people who shouldn't -- who got into the Bahamas illegally. He's politicizing it in a way that, yes, it plays to his base, but it also makes him look very cruel and uncaring.

This is a time when you need to set aside some of the politics, some of the politics and really try to deal with the crisis at hand.

WATT: Michael Genovese, thanks very much for joining us.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

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WATT: Coming up on NEWSROOM.

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WINIS LOUISDOR, DORIAN SURVIVOR: I hope they find him, I hope so. He just had a son. We don't even know the baby's safe yet. I hope they find him. I hope so.

WATT (voice-over): As the death toll rises, the search goes on for those still missing in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian.

And a dramatic rescue, four crew members trapped aboard a capsized cargo ship are found alive.

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WATT: At least 50 people are now confirmed dead in the Bahamas, as search and recovery efforts continue after Hurricane Dorian. The death toll is expected to rise still further. Many who were missing may never be found and many more who were found may never be identified.

But loved ones and volunteers are not giving up hope. CNN's Paula Newton reports from Nassau.

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PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For many survivors of Hurricane Dorian, the nightmare of this storm isn't over. They are terrified of what they may face next. Winis Louisdor is frantic. She hasn't seen her cousin since Dorian

flattened Marsh Harbour more than a week ago. She says Leonard Fredlatte (ph) is a quiet, generous 33-year-old contractor.

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LOUISDOR: I hope they find him. I hope so. He just had a son. We don't even know the baby's safe yet. I hope they find him. I hope so. Because (INAUDIBLE) why he was swimming or what hit him (INAUDIBLE) broken arm, I don't know that's the reason why of course, like, he can't swim no more because he dead, I don't know.

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NEWTON (voice-over): Evacuated just a few days ago, Louisdor tells us it's been tough to even know where or how to start looking for her cousin.

For that reason, Vanessa Pritchard started dorianpeoplesearch.com with a handful of volunteers and her laptop. The list is a living document of the missing and located and a place to start for so many.

VANESSA PRITCHARD, DORIANPEOPLESEARCH.COM: There's still people missing. We have to look at the timeline of where we are. How many days has it been since Dorian passed over the Abacos, how many days has it been since Dorian sat over Grand Bahama for 40 straight hours?

And so that's -- you know, that's hard. That's really hard.

NEWTON (voice-over): And survivors are still coping with so much.

ANNE WILMORE, DORIAN SURVIVOR: Miranda needs to go to the doctor because she was having some back pains and she's six months' pregnant.

NEWTON (voice-over): Anne Wilmore in Marsh Harbour has so much on her mind, she hasn't even had time to report one of her relatives as missing, let alone look for her. It's one of the reasons that getting an accurate number of those missing and feared dead has been difficult to come by.

And it adds to the agonizing administrative details now so frustrating survivors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): All passengers who don't have U.S. visas please proceed to disembark.

NEWTON (voice-over): In Freeport, dozens of desperate evacuees on a ferry bound for the U.S. were told to get off the boat as they didn't have visas. U.S. Border and Customs Patrol says the ferry company should have coordinated with them and it wouldn't have happened. But it was too late for so many -- Paula Newton, CNN, Nassau, Bahamas.

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WATT: So much need there in the Bahamas. If you would like to help the survivors of Hurricane Dorian, head to our website, cnn.com/impact, where you will find a list of vetted aid organizations that are helping in the region,

Meanwhile, four crew members trapped aboard a cargo ship overturned off the U.S. coast of Georgia have now been rescued. The Golden Ray listed heavily and then rolled onto its side on Sunday with 24 people on board; 20 crew members were rescued shortly after the ship tipped over.

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WATT: But four others were stuck on the vessel, trapped by fire. CNN's Natasha Chen reports on the dramatic rescue efforts.

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NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lieutenant Junior Grade (ph) with the U.S. Coast Guard told me that the four crew members were elated when they were finally rescued, he said the expressions on their faces and said it all.

Some of the crew members who were initially rescued on Sunday morning were there to help translate and greet their colleagues as the emerged from the ship. The three of the four of them were able to walk on their own; one of them had to be carried away in a rescue bucket and all four have now been transported to hospitals.

Questions have been raised about the vehicles that were being transported on this vessel and whether those cars were properly secured. I asked the COO of Hyundai Glovis (ph) about that, that's the company that owns the ship.

He said that he believes that rules were followed in lashing down the vehicles on board, the investigation continues into what actually happened. Some of the initially rescued crew members told me they don't know what happened because they were asleep when the ship started listing. So now this is a matter of the spill management team trying to contain the oil that's coming off the vessel as well as a salvage team who will try to figure out how to remove the ship from the sound -- Natasha Chen, CNN, St. Simons Island, Georgia.

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WATT: The so-called mother of Parliaments right now is the mother of all messes. We went to a city in the U.K. that did not want Brexit to find out what people there think of the grim drama gripping Westminster.

Plus, North Korea may be launching new missiles and a bid to reopen nuclear talks.

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WATT: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt with a check with the headlines this hour.

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And another embarrassing defeat for Boris Johnson. Only seven weeks on the job and the British prime minister was forced to eat crow yet again on Monday night. His second attempt to trigger a snap election failed.

British lawmakers heavily rejected the prime minister's call for an October 15 general election. Immediately after that vote, Mr. Johnson pushed ahead with his controversial plan and suspended Parliament.

Earlier on Monday, a bill stopping a no-deal Brexit gained royal assent, and is now law, but despite that, Mr. Johnson says he will not ask for another Brexit delay.

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BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This government will press on with negotiating a deal, while preparing to lead without one. And I will go to that crucial summit in Brussels on October the 17th, and no matter how many devices this Parliament invents to tie my hands, I will strive, Mr. Speaker, to get an agreement in the national interest.

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WATT: So how is all this being viewed outside the political bubble of Westminster. Our Hadas Gold has been speaking to people in Liverpool, which voted largely to remain.

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HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Liverpool prides itself as being the home of the Beatles, popular football clubs, and its global shipping industry. But it's also a place where there are not a lot of fans of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just a horrible, very divisive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just wants to be on everyone's side. He doesn't care about what his -- what his values are, what his principles are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This whole situation has just got -- gotten out of hand.

GOLD (on camera): Many people here are skeptical of Boris Johnson, not just because this is a Labour stronghold and he's a Conservative prime minister, but also because of what happened when he was editing the "Spectator" magazine. They ran an editorial saying that Liverpool likes to play the victim when they were talking about a tragedy that happened at the Hillsborough Stadium in 1989.

(voice-over): More than 58 percent of the Republicans voted to remain in the E.U. And many worried Brexit is distracting the government from issues that impact the city today, like child poverty and hunger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's also an underlining kind of vulnerability to people's jobs and things, and people still reliant on the state and the system. And that's been through so much turmoil, as well.

So it feels like the city itself is treading a very fine line already, and he's kind of cross-winds or head winds on Brexit, I think, affecting (ph) it even more.

GOLD: A recent government report said there are more children in the Liverpool region living below the poverty line then the country's average, and locals worry about losing hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of E.U. funding when this area is already facing government budget cuts.

PAUL THANOS, cafe owner: I think the Brexit vote has compounded the problem, but I think it's only a small part of the actual issue. We've had ten years of austerity measures, which have had a massively negative effect on the economy in general.

GOLD: Despite many of the locals feeling like Brexit should be reversed, they're their yearning for the days after Brexit when the focused can turn from Westminster back toward their community.

THANOS: Brexit needs to be sorted one way or another, leave, stay, organize it better, and then people can actually deal with the -- with the matter at hand. OK, what's actually wrong with the country? And how do we fix that?

GOLD: Hadas Gold, CNN, Liverpool.

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WATT: South Korea's military says North Korea has launched two unidentified projectiles. The news comes hours after Pyongyang said it was willing to resume nuclear talks with the U.S. later this month.

The two projectiles were launched east toward the sea. It's reportedly the tenth launched since May. The previous four rounds of launches were believed to be short-range missile tests, which violate U.N. resolutions.

Japan's cabinet could be in for a shake-up. Local media report that foreign minister Taro Kono is poised to be from the country's new defense minister. This would come at a time when Tokyo finds itself at odds with South Korea over long-standing issues impacting trade and security.

Kristie Lu Stout spoke with Japan's foreign minister about the two countries' fractured relationship.

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KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two critical U.S. allies in Asia locked in a growing trade and diplomatic dispute. It has been brewing since last October, when South Korea's Supreme Court ruled that Korean victims of forced labor could sue Japanese companies for individual compensation.

The later Japan decided to remove South Korean from a list of preferred trading partners, and in August, South Korea decided to withdraw from a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) agreement.

Earlier, I spoke with Japan's foreign minister about the fractured relationship, and what it will take to mend it.

TARO KONO, JAPANESE FOREIGN MINISTER: I think it's important to keep the people-to-people exchange when the government's having problems. Unfortunately, the Korean visitor to Japan, the number going down. But we hope to keep this strong people-to-people exchange.

STOUT: Yes, it's difficult, too, when you have points of tension, for example, you have organizers of Japan's 2020 Olympic games saying that they will not ban the controversial rising sun flag. You know, this is a flag that stirs up very negative emotion among people in South Korea. Would you ask the Olympic organizing committee in Japan to reconsider that?

KONO: No. It's an official flag -- flag for the -- Japan's defense maritime self-defense force, and it's widely recognized. And many places, or many countries like the state of Arizona in the United States or, the country like North Macedonia used similar flags.

There are certain people in South Korea, who try to make some anti- Japan sentiment that at the flag itself is a widely-recognized flag, and there's nothing wrong with it.

STOUT: Do you think nationalism is going to get in the way of any sort of solution here?

KONO: Important thing is there's a healthy nationalism, but there are those who want it to exploit nationalism for other purpose. And bilateral relationship between Japan and South Korea. He's very important. Not just about the security, or not just about the business.

So I think it's our job as a politician to create a bridge between South Korea and Japan, even though, if there is unhealthy nationalism, I think we need to overcome that.

Now, we have -- we know that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he will soon reshuffle his cabinet, and there's word that you may become the next defense minister, having you in that role, would it repair relations between Japan and South Korea and the trilateral alliance with the United States?

KONO: Well, I haven't heard about anything, so I cannot answer that. Bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea has been always high on my political agenda. So I will be whatever I -- but I will be doing. I will be working hard to create a better relationship between Japan and South Korea. That's for sure.

STOUT: All right. Mr. Kono, currently the foreign minister of Japan. Mr. Kono, thank you for joining me.

KONO: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: And next on NEWSROOM, an early fire season in Australia is ravaging parts of two states, and authorities warn this is a bad omen. There's yet more to come.

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[00:35:48] WATT: More than 100 bushfires are burning in two of Australia's most populous eastern states, and as Michael Holmes reports, the worst may be yet to come.

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MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The scorched remains of one of Queensland's treasures, the Binna Burra Lodge in Lamington National Park, located in one of Australia's world heritage site rainforests.

The rooms in apartments here destroyed by a bushfire that has been burning out of control.

KEVIN WALSH, QUEENSLAND FIRE & RESCUE: Accessibility continues to be a major problem for us in this location. It's a very dangerous and dynamic situation up there at the moment.

HOLMES: Firefighters here have been using air support to battle the spreading blaze. This is just one of more than 100 wildfires burning in the eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland.

Fire officials say strong winds are fanning the flames, which have so far burned thousands of hectares.

A spokesman for the Bureau of Meteorology in Queensland says rain is not expected anytime soon, and the dry conditions make things worse.

ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, QUEENSLAND STATE PREMIER: We have had --

WATT: Queensland's state premier says nearly 20 homes have been destroyed in her state.

PALASZCZUK: I want everyone to think about that for a moment. This is a person's home, this is where they raise their children, their grandchildren. So we have a number of families at the moment that are actually going through some really traumatic times.

WATT: At this evacuation center, they are stocking up on supplies, preparing to receive more displaced residents. Bush fires are common in Australia, in Queensland and New South Wales particularly vulnerable in the spring and early summer because of their typically dry conditions.

However, fires have started early this year, and fire officials are warning that this might be an ominous sign of what is to come during the summer, which runs from December to February.

Michael Holmes, CNN, Atlanta.

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WATT: Meanwhile, an inferno in Alaska known as the Swan Lake Fire is still burning more than one month after fire season there typically ends. Is this state a bellwether, raising alarms about the climate crisis,

an indicator of things to come further south? CNN's Bill Weir is in Alaska.

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SUE MAUGER, SCIENCE DIRECTOR, COOK INLETKEEPER: The temperatures we saw this summer were what we expected for 2069.

NICK WATT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Really?

MAUGER: We're 50 years ahead of where we thought we would be for extreme temperatures, so that's very alarming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: Streams now too warm for fish to spawn, and glaciers melting at an alarming rate. See Bill's entire piece on the Alaska crisis in our next hour, and a live interview with Ban Ki-Moon, former secretary general of the United Nations, talking about a new global initiative to fight climate change.

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt. WORLD SPORT is next.

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