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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Awaiting Biden News Conference After Xi Meeting; Senior US Official: Biden, Xi Agreed In Talks To Take Steps To Curb Fentanyl And Restore Military Communication; Biden: "Most Constructive And Productive" Meeting With Xi; Biden Says He Reached Agreements On Fentanyl, AI And Restoring Military Communication In Constructive Talks With Xi Jinping; On Israel-Hamas War, Biden Said That Hamas Does Have Headquarters, Weapons At Hospital Where Israeli Military Operation Is Underway; Biden On Xi Relationship Quoted "Trust But Verify". Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 15, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Well, thank you very much, Melanie. I appreciate it. And, of course, The Rock was there, talking about whether he would run for president.
Of course, we are awaiting now President Biden any moment about to begin a press conference. It is going to be only his third solo press conference in this year. It's November 15th, so this is only the third time. Obviously, going to be here in primetime. It's been a bit delayed after what appears to have been a very significant meeting with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.
The President of United States will be taking those questions in just a few moments. Thanks so much for joining us. Let's hand it off now to Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. In just a few moments from now, President Biden is expected to talk and take questions from reporters about his summit meeting this afternoon with China's President Xi Jinping. The schedule for the press conference has shifted throughout the evening, but it is now expected to begin very shortly. The two leaders spoke for about four hours today at a mansion just outside San Francisco in conjunction with APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, being held in that city.
A senior American official saying the two leaders agreed to take steps to curb fentanyl production and restore communications between their two respective militaries. President Xi, for his part, saying afterwards, quote, "Planet earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed," adding that one country turning its back on the other is not an option.
CNN's MJ Lee is at the summit location for us. CNN's David Culver is in San Francisco. He reported from China for three years, including at the height of the pandemic. Also with us, CNN Contributor and Biden Biographer Evan Osnos, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, and CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash. So, MJ, what's the White House saying about how the summit went?
MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Anderson, as we wait for President Biden to come out any moment now for this solo press conference, I think it is abundantly clear that when he comes out, he is going to herald this summit as having been a success. It is clear that he is going to point to a few of the deliverables that the administration had laid out leading into the summit, namely, the re-establishment of the military-to-military communications between the two countries, and then this significant announcement on cracking down on fentanyl.
But I think in the bigger picture, the president is likely to say that he has achieved sort of the overarching goal of hitting a reset on US- China relations. Both leaders, when we heard them speaking at the top of the summit, making very clear that they agree that, even though these are two countries with serious conflicts and areas of disagreement, that what they do agree on is that the two countries must be able to have diplomacy, that there must be communication between the two countries, so that they can avoid any misunderstanding and really dangerous situations where crises might erupt.
So I think we are expected to hear President Biden talking about this in terms of, sort of, the success coming out of this. That's not to say that these conversations did not touch on tough issues, areas of disagreement. But, again, I think it is abundantly clear that in terms of the big picture goal of hitting a reset on US-China relations, President Biden and everyone on down, we are expected to hear say that that goal was achieved and that there's going to be more conversations, that this is just the beginning of more conversations and more diplomacy in the months to come.
COOPER: David, how is the Chinese media describing the summit? China and its media have been railing against the US for years, I mean, this does seem to be all of a huge shift.
DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a major shift, Anderson. And today I had to go through some of the Chinese state media articles multiple times just to make sure I was reading it right because in, certainly, the years I was living there, 2019 up until the last year through the height of the pandemic, it was nothing positive towards the US. And what we have seen in the past 24 is almost a glowing pro-US messaging coming from Chinese state media.
And I'm sure even those reading that within China were a bit confused. In fact, some were even commenting on social media, noticing the tone shift and how dramatic it was within their own country. But taking all of that aside, I'm really curious to see how they're going to portray it in the days to come because that will indicate where the Chinese Communist Party is perhaps trying to lead the narrative to go from here.
And you hear from US officials and perhaps a fresh start, I don't want to come across pessimistic on this, but deliverables have to come into action. And China has agreed to things in the past, and they can take steps toward something like cracking down on fentanyl or perhaps re- establishing communication between the two countries' militaries, which sound great. And they're certainly using all the right words in some of these Chinese state media readouts that are coming out right now. You got to see the action follow.
And I know China can mobilize, literally overnight. We saw that when they locked down a city with a population three times the size of New York City. I was living in the midst to that. So when they want to do something, they can and they can do it quickly.
It's very different than the US where there's a lot more bureaucracy. You have to go to public comment.
The Chinese way of doing things, if the party decides to go a certain direction, if Xi Jinping wants to do something specifically, it will happen, Anderson.
COOPER: And, David, in terms of -- I mean, you've done a lot of reporting on the fentanyl pipeline from China. In terms of what China can actually do, how significant could it be?
CULVER: So when we think about fentanyl coming into the US, the direct link is Mexico at the southern border. You and I have talked about this in recent months, and that's a huge concern.
We spent some time in Sinaloa, with the Mexican Army, as they were trying to bust some of the labs. Interestingly enough, Anderson, after we did that report, Mexico's president said they don't make fentanyl in Mexico and then reached out to President Xi Jinping, asking for help when it comes to the ingredients to make fentanyl, what are known as the precursors. That's the source of it all. And that is within China.
And it is really easily accessible. Our investigation showed how you can just log on to WeChat, communicate with some of these folks who are representing some of the precursor productions, and you can place an order and have it shipped really anywhere in the world that you wanted, most of it going to Mexico.
And even some of those folks who are working for those production factories will provide a how-to guide in making fentanyl. So this is going to take the Chinese government doing a serious crackdown. And again, Anderson, if they want to do it, they can do that.
COOPER: Yes. Dana, in terms of -- it looks like we have some activity. You saw Secretary of State Antony Blinken getting seated. So it seems like the president is very close.
In terms of President Biden taking reporters' questions tonight, I mean, the stakes are very high for him, not just on China, but the Middle East, his re-election.
DANA BASH, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: All of it. This is very rare. And when I say this, I mean just having a press conference. And so it is going to be an opportunity for the reporters, like MJ and others who cover him on a regular basis, to ask him, of course, about China and about what we're just -- we're hearing from David and MJ, but a lot of questions about the US policy and stance towards the Middle East.
And also, as you mentioned, the very place he seems to be according to every single poll, not just national polls but key battleground states of where he is vis-a-vis the presumptive frontrunner on the Republican side, and that is Donald Trump. So a lot of opportunity, hopefully, for many reporters to get questions because it is so rare that that happens with this president.
COOPER: Evan, I want to talk to you about the shift of tone by China toward the US. You recently wrote a really fascinating piece from "The New Yorker" titled "China's Age of Malaise." Is that -- I mean, what's driving China to do this?
EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, that is a key piece of the puzzle. In some ways, Xi Jinping was coming into this summit in a much weaker position than he was a year or so ago. You know, there was a time when it felt as if he was riding high. He had just installed all of his loyalists into the senior ranks of the government.
But now, of course, the Chinese economy is struggling, as many people know, but also more broadly, and this is one of the things I sensed on the ground when I was there recently. There's just a real sense of frustration.
One of the words people use in Chinese is they feel disheartened, "jusang."It's a big deal. And that's a big change from where it was when he came into office a decade ago. And I think that puts him a little off balance. He came into the room today. You heard him making very clear indications that he wanted this summit to be a success.
You know, David, a moment ago, was describing how the positive message in the Chinese media, that's not by accident. The message has already come down before they met, that they wanted this to be a success as much as the Americans did.
COOPER: And yet, Evan, I mean, the issues that -- you know, there's a lot of issues that are extraordinarily difficult for the US and China to agree on.
OSNOS: Yes, that's really the -- in some ways, the short-term fact is that they came out of here with a productive, successful civil meeting. The long-term fact is that they are still arrayed across a whole range of issues on very ops terms. I'll give you just one fascinating little detail from the opening remarks today that Xi Jinping, when he was just framing the meeting, he said that he does not share the view that these two countries are in a competition, which is after all at the core of how the United States sees it.
But the Chinese would rather not have a competition. They would rather the United States, frankly, move out of the way, take on a smaller role in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in Taiwan. And that is a core disagreement between these two. And that's not going away. That's what you need now, the infrastructure of things like military-to-military communications to try to manage on a day-to-day basis.
COOPER: MJ, you know, Dana was talking about how rare it is to have a press conference with President Biden. How long has it been? And how long is this expected to be? Do we know?
LEE: Yes, this is just the third solo press conference that the president is taking part in this year. It is certainly rare for reporters covering him regularly to get this kind of open and formal opportunity to ask him questions.
One thing that I just wanted to note, just jumping in on what Evan was noting before, just based on our reporting, I think it is clear that US officials would sort of carefully and privately say that the dynamics at play for President Xi back at home, domestically, probably had a lot to do with the interactions that we saw playing out tonight between the two leaders.
Of course, US officials are very attuned to the fact that there are serious economic problems that President Xi is facing at home. And our reporting was that in the months of planning that went into this summit, that there was a level of anxiety and a level of concern about how this would look for President Xi as he was visiting the US for just a couple of days.
You know, this is not unusual, of course. We are talking about a foreign trip for the leader of China. But US officials involved in the planning of this summit saying that that level of concern and the attention to detail down to where he would sit, what he would see when he looked out the window, that it really was sort of unprecedented.
So, again, I think US officials might argue that the dynamics that are at play for President Xi back at home had very much to do with the sort of decision to engage US officials in this way right now. And that maybe US officials sort of took advantage of the opportunity here that was available to them, taking into account the fact that they could make the case to their Chinese counterparts. If you did x, y, and z, it could be to your benefit, particularly on the economic front -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. David Culver, I mean, what is the benefit to China of -- if there is going to be a shift in tone or shift in relations?
CULVER: Yes, and if they're going to take any action, you can bet they're going to want something in exchange. There's going to have to be something that the US goes forward with. And as Evan pointed out, it's a struggling economy. It is a really tough situation right now.
Youth unemployment at an all-time high. You've got a housing market there that's in crisis. And so what President Xi is trying to do in many ways is trying to figure out how he can boost his economy and perhaps relying on American companies and perhaps even wooing them to go back.
Many of them, I can tell you, left not only during the pandemic, but in the months after because of Beijing's crackdown on corporations. I mean, the government was going after and raiding offices in Shanghai of American companies.
And so now you have, just a couple hours from now, President Xi hosting a Welcome Xi dinner, if you will, and it's being put on my two US-based organizations. They focus on US-China relations and, in part, focusing on bettering business relations. And this is a dinner in which President Xi is hoping to rub elbows with some of these folks and perhaps convince them to come back to China if they've left or expand their reach within China.
The issue that these businesses have is, can we trust you, President Xi? Can we trust that the government isn't going to go forward with another crackdown? And can we trust that we can get any profit that we make within China out of China? These are all really complicated situations that, I think, folks are going to be hesitant certainly within the business world where many years they saw a lot of money coming out of China and saw it as a really opportunistic place to be doing business. Now, they're not so sure.
So, that dinner, by the way, that's going to be happening tonight, Anderson, is really controversial. US lawmakers are weighing in on this. You have the chairman of the House Select Committee that focuses on the CCP saying that this is an unconscionable dinner because of the price that it will cost for those who want to pay to attend. And that's $40,000 for those wanting a seat at the table with President Xi. So, they're looking into this. They want names.
COOPER: CCP is the Chinese Communist Party.
Ambassador Oren, yes, when President Biden spoke in Tel Aviv, you and I spoke that day. You were very effusive about his support for Israel. Have you -- do you see any shift in the administration's stance? Obviously, the administration is under pressure from a lot of different corridors.
MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE US: Yes, I think a -- good to be with you, Anderson. They've shifted a bit on the question of the humanitarian pauses, the humanitarian corridors. And the Israeli government has now, I think, tried to meet the president halfway on those measures, understanding the president is under that type of pressure.
But on the crucial, crucial issue of the ceasefire, the president and his administration have not wavered a bit. They understand that the ceasefire means Hamas wins, Hamas gets away with mass murder. And they realize that a ceasefire for Israel is something close to death. I mean, we would not be able to restore internal security or restore our regional deterrence. Iran will internalize that they can hit us with impunity, and the international community will impose a ceasefire.
[20:15:16] So I don't know how Israel becomes -- you know, remains habitable after that point. So, there, the president, the Secretary of State, have really stood steadfast. John Kirby getting up every night before the press -- the White House Press Corps and saying that we are against a ceasefire. And I think now it's also a bipartisan support as we saw on the -- in the mass rally yesterday in Washington.
COOPER: Dana Bash, I mean, MJ was saying this is only the third press conference he has been involved with. I think she said that this year. It is a small amount. Obviously, there's a lot of questions about his stamina, his abilities. There's going to be a lot of people watching this to look at that and to see how he answers questions.
BASH: Yes, no question. Whenever President Biden is asked about those issues, something that there's nothing he can do about, which is his age, his answer is "watch me." And this is an opportunity for the American people, people around the world to actually do just that, to watch him, but much more importantly to really (AUDIO GAP) -- on the very, very big issues before him in his presidency in this country internationally, like you just talked about with Ambassador Oren.
I mean, certainly he has been extremely steadfast when it comes to Israel (AUDIO GAP) with Xi Jinping, but also a lot of eyes on him less than a year away from his re-election. Lots of questions about domestic issues, unclear if he's going to get those questions about the economy, about the economy doing better.
Even this week, we saw numbers where they matter the most to people. The price of eggs, the price of goods, they are better. The inflation numbers are going down. So, why don't people credit him with that?
Those are the messages that if he does give a lengthy press conference that reporters will be able to talk to him about, not just international, not just the raw political, but some of the policies that he's hoping he can get re-elected on. And he's been trying to do it more and more (AUDIO GAP) a chance to make his case, but again get some probing questions from those who cover him every day.
COOPER: Yes. Evan Osnos, in terms of what the US could do for China or China would be looking specifically from -- to the US for, what do you think is top of the list?
OSNOS: Well, we know what China wants. I think -- you know, there -- it's not a -- it's a meaningful fact that Xi Jinping has left this meeting and gone directly to that bank with that David mentioned earlier with business leaders.
You know, a big reason for this whole visit was that Xi Jinping wanted to essentially go out into the world and signal to the global business community, to investors who have gotten very nervous about China that he gets it, that he is, in a sense -- that he recognizes that he needs to show that he's paying attention to the economic troubles at home, and that he's not pursuing a conflict with the United States, which after all, would be a disaster for the world and for the world economy. So, on some level, his presence here is a sign that he is willing to acknowledge the scale of concern. And -- but I think in terms of specifics, look, what he would really like is for the United States to say we're not going to impose further restrictions on high-technology exports to China that would go into advanced chip semiconductors, A.I. He's not going to get that.
The United States is, at this point, not backing off from that strategy. That is a major piece of how Biden imagines the future of this relationship. And so they have to come to some sort of accommodation.
COOPER: And, obviously, Evan, the issue of Taiwan is a big, you know, disagreement, point of contention, obviously, between the US and China.
OSNOS: It is. Yes, in some ways, it's the core point of contention. And in some ways, actually, what this meeting was about was not changing their position, it was about underscoring how emphatic the United States is about two big things.
One, it is not actually supporting independence for Taiwan. It supports the status quo, which is the self-governing status that Taiwan has now, but also indicating that the United States is not backing off of the idea of defending Taiwan in the event of an attack. It's a really precise balance, but that's one of the key reasons why they wanted to have this meeting.
There's a real fear in Beijing. I heard it when I was there and you hear it from Chinese visitors that they think United States is moving towards supporting independence in Taiwan. If that happened, it would be, from China's perspective, a five-alarm fire.
And Joe Biden wanted to send a very clear message that, no, our position has not changed. We will defend Taiwan, and we want it to stay in the safe status that it enjoys right now.
COOPER: David Culver, as we wait for President Biden to make remarks and to take questions, in terms of the precursor chemicals involved, the precursor ingredients for fentanyl, is there a -- I mean, for some of those chemicals, are there legitimate reasons for them to be manufactured? And I mean, how easy is it -- are we talking about shutting down factories in China or just the distribution supply networks?
CULVER: It's a fair point because there are a long list of chemicals that you can look at here that would be used to create fentanyl, and that being to prevent a how-to here. But certainly, there are some that could be used for other things and are used for things that are in everyday life, you know, in paints and nail polish remover, things like that.
However, what you have to look at is the quantities. So, the way it was likened to me by one federal investigator was if somebody is going into a CVS and picking up one pack of Sudafed, maybe a couple of packs, all right, not all that concerning. If they're picking up 500 packs of Sudafed, that raises some eyebrows. So that's kind of how they pointed this.
COOPER: Okay. The president is so walking out right now. David Culver, thank you. We're going to check back in with everybody afterward. Let's listen.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Please, have a seat. As you know, I just concluded several hours of meetings with President Xi, and I believe they're some of the most constructive and productive discussions we've had.
I've been meeting with President Xi since both of us were vice president over 10 years ago. Our meetings have always been candid and straightforward. We haven't always agreed, but they've been straightforward.
And today, we built on the groundwork we laid over the past several months of high-level diplomacy between our teams. We've made some important progress, I believe.
First, I'm pleased to announce that after many years of being on hold, we are restarting cooperation between the United States and PRC and counter-narcotics. In 2019, you may remember, China took action to greatly reduce the amount of fentanyl shipped directly from China to the United States. But in the year since that time, the challenge has evolved from finished fentanyl to fentanyl chemical ingredients and pill presses, which are being shipped without controls. And by the way, some of these pills are being inserted in other drugs like cocaine. A lot of people are dying.
More people in the United States between the ages of 18 to 49 die from fentanyl than from guns, car accidents or any other cause, period. So, today, with this new understanding, we're taking action to significantly reduce the flow of precursor chemicals and pill presses from China to the Western Hemisphere. It's going to save lives, and I appreciate President Xi's commitment on this issue.
President Xi and I tasked our teams to maintain a policy in law enforcement coordination going forward to make sure it works. I also want to thank the bipartisan congressional delegation to China, led by Leader Schumer in October, for supporting efforts -- this effort so strongly.
Secondly -- and this is critically important -- we're reassuming military-to-military contact -- direct contacts. As a lot of you press know who follow this, that's been cut off and has been worrisome. That's how accidents happen, misunderstandings. So we're back to direct, open, clear direct communications on a direct basis. Vital miscalculations on either side can cause real, real trouble with a country like China or any other major country. And so I think we've made real progress there as well.
And thirdly, we're going to get our experts together to discuss risk and safety issues associated with artificial intelligence. As many of you have travelled with me around the world almost everywhere I go, every major leader wants to talk about the impact of artificial intelligence. These are tangible steps in the right direction to determine what's useful and what's not useful, what's dangerous and what's acceptable.
Moreover, there are evidence of cases that I made all along. United States will continue to compete vigorously with the PRC, but we'll manage that competition responsibly so it doesn't veer into conflict or accidental conflict. And where it's possible, where our interests are -- coincide, we're going to work together like we did on fentanyl.
That's what the world expects of us. The rest of the world expect, not just people in China and the United States, but the rest of the world expects that of us. And that's what the United States is going to be doing.
Today, President Xi and I also exchanged views on a range of regional and global issues, including Russia's refusal and brutal war to stop the war -- and brutal war of aggression against Ukraine and conflict in Gaza.
And as I always do, I raised areas where the United States has concerns about the PRC's actions, including detain and ex -- ban (ph) the US citizens, human rights and corrective -- coercive activities in the South China Sea. We discussed all three of those things. I gave him names of individuals who we think are being held, and hopefully we can get them released as well. No agreement on that. No agreement on that.
I also stressed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits. It's clear that we object to Beijing's non-market economic practices and disadvantage -- that disadvantage American businesses and workers, and then we'll continue to address them. And I named what I thought a number of those were.
I welcome the positive steps we've taken today. And it's important for the world to see that we're implementing the approach in the best traditions of American diplomacy.
We're talking to our competitors and the key -- and just talking just bluntly with one another, so there's no misunderstanding is a key element to maintaining global stability and delivering for the American people.
And in the months ahead, we're going to continue to preserve and pursue high-level diplomacy with the PRC in both directions to keep the lines of communication open including between President Xi and me. He and I agreed that either one of us could pick up the phone, call directly, and will be heard immediately.
And that's -- now, I'd like to be able to take some questions if I may. And I'm told that Demetri at "The Financial Times" has the first question.
DEMETRI SEVASTOPULO, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE FINANCIAL TIMES: Thank you. And as an Irishman, I apologize for bringing the rain.
BIDEN: Holy God, I wouldn't have called on you if I've known that. No, I'm teasing. Go ahead. Fire away, Demetri.
SEVASTOPULO: President Biden, given that America is playing a key role in two major global crises -- Ukraine and in Gaza -- does that alter your previous commitment to defend Taiwan from any Chinese military action? And did Xi Jinping outlined the conditions under which China would attack Taiwan?
BIDEN: Look, I'll reiterate what I've said since I've become president and what every previous president of late has said, that we maintain agreement that there is a One China policy, and that I'm not going to change that. That's not going to change. And so that's about the extent to which we discussed it.
Next question, sorry, was Bloomberg.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good evening, Mr. President. It appears, among other issues, that your agreement with President Xi over fentanyl would require -- will require a lot of trust and verification to ensure success in curbing those drug flows. I'm wondering, after today and considering all that you've been through in the past year, would you say, Mr. President, that you trust President Xi?
And secondly, if I could, on Taiwan, you and your administration officials have warned President Xi and China about interference in the upcoming election. I'm wondering what would the consequences be if they do, in fact, interfere in the election?
BIDEN: Well, I may have had that discussion with him, too. I made it clear, I didn't expect any interference, any at all, when we had that discussion as he was leaving.
Look, do I trust? You know, I trust but verify, as the old saying goes. That's where I am.
And, you know, we're in a competitive relationship -- China and United States. But my responsibility is to make it -- make this rational and manageable, so it doesn't result in conflict. That's what I'm all about. That's what this is about.
To find a place where we can come together and where we find mutual interest that -- but most importantly, from my perspective, that are an interest in the American people, that's what this is about. And that's exactly what we'll do.
You know, we're in a situation where we agree that fentanyl, as precursors, will be curbed substantially, and the pill presses. That's a big movement. They're doing -- and, by the way, you know, I won't -- I guess I shouldn't identify where it occurred.
But, John, I know two people near where I live. Their kids, literally, as I said, they woke up dead. Someone had inserted in -- whether the young man did or not, inserted in a drug he was taking, fentanyl. Again, I don't -- I hope you don't have any experience with knowing anyone, but this is the largest killer of people in that age category. And, you know, I guess the other thing I think is most important is that since I spent more time with President Xi than any world leader has, just because we were vice presidents. His president was President Who -- I'm not making a joke -- President Who and President Obama thought we should get to know one another. (Inaudible) appropriate for the President of the United States to be (inaudible) vice president.
So, we met -- if I'm not mistaken, I think it was 68 hours of just face-to-face discussing with a simultaneous interpreter. So, I think I know the man, I know his modus operandi. He has been -- we have disagreements. He has a different view than I have on a lot of things. But he's been straight. I don't mean that as good, bad, or indifferent. He's just been straight. And so, you know, we, as I said, the thing that I find most assuring is he raised and I fully agreed, that neither of us have any concern, Mr. Ambassador, any concern about anything between our nations or happening in our region, we should pick up the phone and call one another and we'll take the call as an important progress. I am embarrassed. I think it's CBS. But I can't remember who is CBS, I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President.
BIDEN: Sorry. I apologize.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible).
BIDEN: Well, first of all, none of it did end up in a conflict, number one. Number two, you may recall I did a few little things like get the quad together, allow Australia to have access to new submarines, moving in the direction to work with the Philippines. So, our actions speak louder than our words. He fully understands.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible).
BIDEN: Well, look, we did discuss this, by the way. We can't let it get out of control. Here's the situation. You have a circumstance where the first war crime is being committed by Hamas by having their headquarters, their military hidden under a hospital. And that's a fact. That's what's happened. Israel did not go in with large number of troops, did not raid, did not rush everything down. They've gone in and they've gone in with their soldiers carrying weapons and guns.
They were told -- told. Let me be precise. We discussed the need for them to be incredibly careful. You have a circumstance where you know there is a fair number of Hamas terrorists. Hamas has already said publicly that they plan on attacking Israel again like they did before. They're going to cut baby's heads off, burning women and children alive. So, the idea that they're going to just stop and not do anything is not realistic. This is not the carpet bombing. This is a different thing. They're going through these tunnels. They're going in the hospital. And if you notice, I was mildly preoccupied today. I apologize. I didn't see everything. But what I did see, whether -- I haven't had it confirmed yet. I'll ask my team to answer the question. But what happened is, they're also bringing in incubators. They're bringing in other means to help the people in the hospital. And they've given them doctors, and I'm told, the doctors and nurses and personnel an opportunity to get out of harm's way. So, this is a different story than I believe was occurring before, indiscriminate bombing.
BIDEN: What do you got "Washington Post"? I think that's right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
BIDEN: There you are. Sorry, I couldn't see you in the light.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ((inaudible).
BIDEN: I'm sorry. You're breaking up. I didn't
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Israel's war in Gaza has killed more than 11,000 Palestinians in just over a month and created a humanitarian disaster. Israeli officials have said this work (ph) months or even years. Have you communicated to Prime Minister Netanyahu any sort of deadline or time frame for how long you're willing to support Israel in this operation? Are you comfortable with the operation going on indefinitely? And is there any deal underway to free hostages? Thank you.
BIDEN: Yes, no -- working backwards, forward. Look, I have been deeply involved in moving on the hostage negotiation. And I don't want to get ahead of myself here because I don't know what's happened in the last four hours. But I have gotten great cooperation from the Qataris. I've spoken with them as well a number of times. I think the pause that the Israelis have agreed to (inaudible) most detail. I know, Mr. Secretary, I'm going to stop.
But I am mildly hopeful. I am mildly hopeful. With regard to when is this going to stop, I think it's going to stop when the -- when Hamas will no longer maintains the capacity to murder and abuse and just do horrific things to the Israelis. And they still think, at least as of this morning, they still thought they could. I guess, the best way for me to say it is that I take a look. The IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces acknowledges they have an obligation to use as much caution as they can in going after their targets.
It's not like they're rushing into a hospital, knocking down doors and, you know, pulling people aside and shooting people indiscriminately. But Hamas, as I said, said they plan on attacking Israelis again. And this is a terrible dilemma. So, what do you do? I think that Israel is also taking risk themselves about their folks being killed, one to one going through these hospital rooms, hospital halls. But one thing has been established, is that Hamas does have headquarters, weapons, materiel below this hospital, and I suspect others. But how long it's going to last, I don't know. Look, I made it clear to the Israelis that, to (inaudible) and his war cabinet, that I think the only answer here is a two-state solution. That's real. We've got to get to the point where there is an ability to be able to even talk without worrying about whether or not we're just dealing with -- they're dealing with Hamas is going to engage in the same activities they did over the past, on the 7th. So it is -- but I can't tell, I'm not a fortune teller. I can't tell you how long it's going to last.
But I can tell you, I don't think it ends until there's a two-state solution. I made it clear to the Israelis, I think it's a big mistake for them to think they're going to occupy Gaza and maintain Gaza. I don't think that works. And so, I think you're going to see efforts to bring along -- well, I shouldn't go into it anymore because those are things I've been negotiating with Arab countries and others about what the next steps are. But anyway, thank you all very much. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. This end the press conference.
BIDEN: When Hamas said they plan on doing the same thing again, what they did, what they did on the seventh. They're going to go in there, they want to slaughter Israelis. They want to do it again. They've said it out loud. They're not kidding about it. They're not backing off. And so, I just ask a rhetorical question, I wonder what we would do if that were the case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the hostages, (inaudible).
BIDEN: Oh, what I meant was I'm doing everything in my power to get you out. Coming to help you, to get you out. I don't mean sending military to get them. Is that what you thought I meant? No, I was not talking about military. I was talking about, on our mind, every single day, five to six times a day, I'm working on how I can be helpful in getting the hostages released and have a period of time where there's a pause long enough to let that happen. And they're somewhere between 50 and 100 hostages there, we think.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And sir, one is a three-year-old American child?
BIDEN: You're darn right it is. That's why I'm not going to stop until we get her.
COOPER: President Biden speaking to
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) what kind of evidence do you have (inaudible) that Hamas has a command center under Al-Shifa Hospital?
BIDEN: No, I can't tell you. I won't tell you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) are you confident based on what you know?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Mr. President, after today, would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator? This is a term that you used earlier this year.
BIDEN: Look, he is. I mean, he's a dictator in the sense that here's a guy who runs a country that is (inaudible) based on the government (inaudible). Anyway, let's not
COOPER: President Biden speaking to reporters after roughly four-hour summit meeting with China's President Xi Jinping. Back now with the panel. Dana, first of all, what do you make of the president's remarks? Just now, he spoke about fentanyl pill presses, about getting China cooperation on cutting down on fentanyl pill presses, moving on precursor chemicals. He talked about direct military-to-military contacts between the U.S. and China, as well as addressing risk of artificial intelligence.
BASH: Yeah, I mean, trust but verify, which is really an important answer to a really good question, which was, do you trust President Xi, particularly given the fact that during his campaign in 2020, then Vice President Biden talked a lot about what he repeated today, which is how many hours he had spent with Xi Jinping and how much he knew him, and the fact that he could use that if he became president.
Well, today was a really, really important test of using that history that they have together. And, yes, it wasn't -- there wasn't a huge break through on economics and other issues that have been dividing these two countries who compete with one another for decades, but on the basics, just take -- I mean, fentanyl is one thing he mentioned, Anderson. Just take the fact that now there is communication reopened between the two countries' militaries. That's a big deal because it was blown open thanks to a couple of things, including the fact that China sent a spy balloon floating over America for a long time.
So, it's obvious that he's trying to be hopeful but also pretty clear that there is a lot of work to do. And Anderson, if I may, on Israel, it was really striking how much he is staying the course on saying multiple times that Hamas (inaudible) Israel again and they must be destroyed, must be taken off the table. Because if not, they will reconstitute, and they will do exactly what they promised to do, giving no timeline to the end of this war except for when Hamas is fully destroyed.
And I thought that was really noteworthy because, obviously, he is facing a huge increasing pressure to call for a ceasefire. He is not going there at all, but not even close in his comments tonight.
COOPER: Let's bring in Ambassador -- Former Ambassador Michael Oren. Ambassador, I'm wondering, to Dana's point, what you made of the president's comments about Israel.
OREN: I couldn't agree more with Dana. It was extraordinary. At least half the questions from the press corp. were not about U.S.-China relationship, but rather about America's policy toward Israel and the Gaza conflict. And I think in contrast to what has been said in recent days that America's policy toward this conflict has weakened America's position in the world, on the contrary, I think that the president comes into this meeting with Xi in a position of power.
He is showing that America, after a long period of isolationism, is willing to project power again on a massive scale, these two large striker forces is willing to stick by an ally in the face of growing international pressure. I think it sends a message about America's commitment to Taiwan. I think it says something about America's ability to provide power again. He actually came -- the president came into this conference stronger because of this position, and then he reiterated it tonight in the face of these very pressing questions from journalists saying, "Are you going to put a time (inaudible)? Are you going to agree to a ceasefire?"
He said no. He stuck by his position, did not give an inch. And I think that strengthens America's position vis-a-vis China, I think it strengthens America's position vis-a-vis Russia and the entire world. Everybody who wants to stay with America is going to stick by this hour (ph) and whether America is going to be able to project that power. Very powerful I thought.
COOPER: And that sort of -- he did seem to, I don't know -- he made two remarks that I think are going to get attention. One he talked about believing there were 50 to 100 hostages there. That's obviously lower than the 240 number. I mean, obviously, nobody knows exactly how many hostages there are because none of these groups, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, others who may be holding hostages, have been given any proof of life. So, there's plenty of people who are missing. It's not clear if all those people are being held hostage.
I'm wondering what you make of that number. And also, he seemed to say something about Israel having agreed to a pause. And then he stopped himself, looking at the Secretary of State Antony Blinken. I don't know -- he said, I think that the pause that the Israelis have agreed to. I assume he's talking about any potential pause that might be part of a deal for hostages coming out, being negotiated with Qatar.
OREN: That's the way I understood it, Anderson. There's been lots of press reports about a proposal to have a pause, three days to five days -- it's not quite clear -- to release a certain number of hostages, young people, sick people, and old people. The Israeli government has firmly denied this and refused to comment about it. And I think that's what the president was referring to. The absolute number of hostages remains around 240.
COOPER: David Culver, President Biden just doubled down on referring to President Xi as a dictator. Wondering what you made of his remarks tonight? CULVER: It sounded like he had stepped away from the mic a bit when he was asked that, so I was trying to listen closely. So, he did clarify that he stood by that title. I think that's going to be interesting. In the sense, Anderson, is I want to see what if anything state media will do with that in a day or so. And the reason I say that is because, if they choose to totally ignore it and to not make any mention of it, it suggests that the narrative coming from the top and from Xi Jinping is to stay focused, stay the course of trying to keep these relations warm, and to move in a direction of open and honest communication, as they would like to describe, and mutual trust.
If they start to make a big deal about that in the coming days, it will suggest that there are still issues with this relationship, that it is far from rosy, and that there is perhaps going to be more division to come. So, I am curious to see what will be made of that in the coming days.
COOPER: Yeah. MJ Lee, I want to go to you. I believe you're the one who asked the question. It was off-mic, so it was hard for our viewers here. Just explain what you asked and what he said.
LEE: Yeah, the question that I asked President Biden, one of the questions I asked at the end was whether he still considers President Xi a dictator, given that this was a comment he had made earlier this year. And given that, obviously, the two sides have said that there was a lot of progress made in the relationship. And President Biden said, yes, he still is, that that hasn't changed. I thought that that was incredibly noteworthy, sort of signaling that even while there is some progress on building up those diplomatic channels and making sure that there is an improvement in the two countries' relations, that there are some things that are fundamental to China that he isn't going to forget.
He also said when he was asked by a different reporter whether he would trust Xi Jinping, he said he believes in the ethos of trust but verify. So, I thought that was incredibly noteworthy. And Anderson, something else that really struck me during this 20-minute press conference is how much we are seeing President Biden and the Biden Administration having to answer questions about Israel and Israel's conduct in the Israel-Hamas war.
We saw the number of questions that he received from reporters about the civilian death toll in Gaza. Of course, I asked him a question at the end about whether he feels confident that there is a Hamas control center under the Al-Shifa Hospital.
LEE: And he said, yes, he does feel confident, but he can't get into the details. And I think, you know, everywhere we go, you are really just seeing signs of how much this conflict is following the president around. When I walk into the White House every day for my job, it is pretty typical to be able to hear protests of some kind that is related to this conflict. It wasn't that long ago that the entrance to the White House had fingerprints, handprints that were supposed to mimic blood stains with words like Genocide Joe. And here in San Francisco, while the president has been here to attend the APEC Summit, just last night, when we were walking around the city of San Francisco, we saw a really sizable rally, protest, pro- Palestinian protest, and many of the signs specifically mentioning President Biden. So, I think this moment here sort of captures and really brings to light how many questions President Biden himself, U.S. officials are getting about this conflict as increasingly people, including in his own administration, are starting to voice serious, serious concerns about Israel's conduct.
And Anderson, if I could just note one more very interesting moment that stood out to me and helpful because I was sitting so close to the front row. I was in the second row, the first row of reporters in this press conference. When President Biden was asked about the ongoing hostage negotiations, he said that he was mildly hopeful. He started to talk about a pause that Israel may have agreed to. Then he looked over at Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was sitting in front of him and made some remark about how perhaps he shouldn't get too much into the detail.
And Secretary Blinken shaking his head -- shaking his head no, definitely do not get into too much of the details. I thought it was a really interesting moment that captured just how sensitive these negotiations have been. The president, of course, has been sort of optimistic all along, at least in what he has said in his public remarks, that he will ultimately end up seeing these American hostages and others get out. But these negotiations are ongoing. And you can tell, just from that very interaction, that those talks have been incredibly, incredibly sensitive.
COOPER: Evan Osnos, I'm wondering what stood out to you in the president's remarks. And also, given -- I mean, you have written -- you've done a study of President Biden. You wrote a great biography of the president. Talk about what you saw and how he performed.
EVAN OSNOS, BIDEN BIOGRAPHER: Yeah, I was struck by his returning several times to this idea of being blunt. He said it on a multiple -- on a range of issues. Talking about China, he said the importance is for us to be blunt with one another, so there's no misunderstanding. That's especially important when it comes to China because Xi Jinping has consolidated so much power at the very top that frankly, the Biden Administration isn't confident that when they go through other channels that they are getting a clear message to him.
And so, he said this rather unusual thing. I mean, tonight, he said, "We talked about the idea that I should be able to pick up the phone and call him, and he should be able to pick up the phone directly and call me. I will take the call." I mean that is, if there's a core concept in Biden's diplomacy across decades and across issues, it's the idea of being candid, being clear. Perhaps even a little bit too candid sometimes.
MJ was drawing attention to a moment when he almost perhaps said something that they are still working through privately. He was also candid when he talked about what he discussed with Bibi Netanyahu and with the Israeli government, the idea that in his mind there will not be an ultimate solution here until there is a two-state solution. So, he is not shying away from the points of disagreement in any of these crucial issues. And it just highlights, frankly, how broad a range of complex issue this administration is contending with at one time.
COOPER: Yeah, Dana, I mean certainly, his talk about a two-state solution obviously is at odds with a number of members of the Netanyahu Government, including the prime minister.
BASH: Currently, it seems as though that is true. I interviewed the prime minister over the weekend, specifically on the notion of a post -- what Gaza would look like after the war and whether he would support the Palestinian authority going in there. And he pushed back on the notion that the PA has the capability to do it because of all of the negative attributes that have been pretty well documented. And so, the question -- and he said that there needs to be a civilian leadership that's re-imagined.
It doesn't necessarily mean no two-state solution, it just means that maybe the PA which is the entity that the Biden government -- the Biden Administration very much says should go in, back in to Gaza, even though they were there for not very long before Hamas ended up taking over in the mid-2000s.
BASH: So, yes, he is pushing that and I think it is -- if you take a step back, he mentioned this tonight, Anderson, it's because he doesn't -- he wants to make very clear that Israel has no business staying in Gaza after the war. There should be no occupation at all by -- he didn't say Israeli troops, but by Israel, and I think what he meant was governing.
COOPER: And Ambassador Oren, how do you think the president's comments about a two-state solution are going to be received by Netanyahu and his government?
OREN: Maybe my members of the government won't be particularly thrilled by it. Let's talk about the Israeli public in general. I think the Israeli public will be open to any realistic venue that will change the status quo, perhaps a peaceful resolution. There's a tremendous amount of skepticism among the Israeli people and I'm talking about people even in the center and center left who say, the head of the Palestinian authority now is Mohammad Abbas. He is in the 18th year of his four-year term. He won't stand for re-election because he knows that Hamas would win on the West Bank as well.
And Israelis are saying, well, we are going to have a Palestinian state there. It could turn into Gaza. And it's going to be 20 times worse because it's the longest border Israel has, and put most of Israel not just in rocket range, but in rifle range. So they would have to find a legitimate and stable leadership there that is willing to sign on the dotted line of a peace agreement and actually keep it, and keep it in a peaceful way and convince the Israeli public of that.
I think that it's worth -- certainly, it is worth exploring and I would wish the president the best of success with it. It won't be an easy task. People have tried it in the past. I think the Israeli public will be open to any opportunity for peace.
COOPER: Yeah. Ambassador Oren, appreciate your time. All our panelists as well. We will be right back.