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Interview With Brother Of Freed Prisoner Siamak Namazi Babak Namazi; Interview With Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al Thani; Interview With Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Interview With Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan; Interview With Former Tennis Champion Billie Jean King. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 20, 2023 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everybody. Welcome to program. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN BIN JASSIM AL THANI, QATARI PRIME MINISTER: At the end of the day results are what matters and what matters now that the
prisoners are back with their families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: My exclusive interview with the Qatari prime minister about their instrumental role in the U.S.-Iran prisoner deal. And the emotional family
reunions. After eight years behind bars, we get the first reaction from Siamak Namazi's brother, Babak, about his long fight to get his loved one
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We must act united to defeat the aggressor and focus all our capabilities and energy on addressing these
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- does the global focus on Ukraine divert energy away from the climate energy? Former U.S. vice president and climate campaigner, Al Gore,
Also, ahead, Xi Jinping is a no show here. But the thorny relationship between China and the United States dominates the summit. Singapore thinks
it can be a crucial bridge between Pacific powers, I asked the foreign minister how.
And finally --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLIE JEAN KING, FORMER TENNIS CHAMPION: I remember shaking hands with him afterwards and he said to me, I underestimated you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- the battle of the sexes 50 years since tennis trailblazer Billy Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs. She joins the program on winning and
never betting against women.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour outside the United Nations in New York.
Home after years of agony and frustration, after years of a nightmare. This week, the world has now seen five Americans freed from Iranian detention
and finally able to hug their families. Since Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Shargi and two others not who have not been publicly named touchdown
on public soil. This after being released as part of an agreement by brokered by Qatar that includes a prisoner swap and the U.S. unfreezing $6
billion in Iranian funds held in South Korea.
In a moment, my exclusive interview with the Qatari prime minister about this deal. But first, here is Babak Namazi at the long-awaited reunion with
his brother, Siamak, and father, Bagher, who was also held captive in Iran for up to six years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BABAK NAMAZI, BROTHER OF FREED PRISONER SIAMAK NAMAZI: This is the real, real hero of this story, surviving eight years of brutal treatment, but
never, never losing hope. And showing what happens when you're hopeful, when you fight. It's all over. I'm done. I'm done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Siamak spent nearly eight years in Evin jail as he said to me only because he was American, he had never done so much as jay walking.
And when I spoke to him from there, from Evin Prison in March, this is what he said, my very humanity has been taken away from me.
And in statement after his release he said, I am not special. All I did was not give up and survive. But my heroes are my mother, Effie, and brother,
Babak, who suffered with me every single day that I was comparative."
And now, Babak is joining us from Washington, and these are his first comments after being reunited with his brother. So, Babak, you know,
welcome -- first of all, welcome back to this program. And I think I can genuinely ask you today, how are you?
NAMAZI: I can genuinely say for the first time in eight years, I'm doing great. It's surreal.
AMANPOUR: How is Siamak?
NAMAZI: He's in shock. He's in awe. He's just like the rest of us. I've dreamt of this moment for eight years, Christiane, and I honestly can't
believe it's here. I honestly can't. I've embraced him. I've held him. I've squeezed him. I've kissed him. And it's just not real.
I've dreamt of this and I've woken up from these dreams. And I'm just hoping it's not another dream. So, we're just trying to digest the enormity
of being reunited after eight horrific years of separation, of brutality, of inhumanity. And, you know, of course, in my case, I had the horrible
experience of having not just Siamak but also my dad being held captive. So, I'm just so grateful that finally this nightmare has come to an end.
It's just unbelievable.
AMANPOUR: I do want to talk about your father and your mother in a moment because they have suffered so much in their own ways, as you all have as a
family. But tell me what it was like after midnight, in the early hours of the morning on Tuesday, when your mother and Siamak, they both came out of
Iran together via Qatar Airways and a Doha stop that was transmitted all around the world, the whole world was able to see what happened.
How did -- what was it like, those first moments? Did you all rush together? How did you process that?
NAMAZI: Yes. I mean, we've become like a family with the other hostage families. I really have to say I felt like my brothers and sisters were
there with me. It was a collective sense of celebration and just intense positive energy.
I mean, we've come together as families for so many years, advocating together, crying together and just praying together and maybe at times
being hopeless together. But being at that occasion together, waiting for the plane, staring at the sky, it was a clear sky, it was bright stars and
seeing that plane approach, I mean, my knees were shaking. I can't describe it.
And with the other families, I mean --
NAMAZI: -- really, we could understand what it's like to be so -- feeling so, you know, profoundly isolated for so long at times. And then, at that
moment, feeling the entire world has come together, because I honestly felt --
NAMAZI: -- that the whole world is celebrating with us. And I'm getting messages from people I've never heard of and people, of course, I knew. It
was just amazing. Just amazing.
AMANPOUR: So, you know, when Siamak called me from prison in March, he alluded to his very, very bad treatment, certainly, in the first couple of
years. But he wasn't able to say a huge amount for obvious reasons. He was still not free. And he also wasn't able to say the torture he had endured
about what guards told him about your father, Bagher, you know, can you tell me whether he's told you stuff, what you know about how he was
treated, how they, you know, mishandled and mistreated your father and the information about your father in jail?
NAMAZI: It's very difficult for me to say. Because when you hear these stories or hear these -- when I heard about Siamak and then my dad, my mind
couldn't process, you know, both from my brother and dad, but in particular for my dad. I mean, who takes an 80-year-old man and puts them in solitary
confinement when they're screaming for help because of feeling claustrophobic in a very small cell and they tell them, you know -- it's
It's -- I saw this and heard of a sign of inhumanity I couldn't fathom existed. But today, I'm grateful that they've survived. I never thought I'd
see my father again. Even though he was released after some intense medical ailments and emergency heart surgeries and -- I mean, it took almost him
dying for him to be released out of prison. And then, it took another two years to -- I mean, to get this poor old man who was only like meters away
from his son in prison and couldn't see him for a year.
I just -- my mind couldn't process this. Not just as a family member, but as a human being, I couldn't understand irrespective of what crimes that's
alleged, why this kind of treatment. But again, I'm grateful they've survived. My dad has always been my hero, is always been Siamak's hero. I
can't imagine the pain he went through and is going through, having his son go through this. My mom, of course, just the most amazing woman. I couldn't
talk that much about her because I was always terrified for her being alone in Iran.
I'm just in awe that while I saw the worst of humanity, at the same time I saw best of humanity from, you know, really from my old family, when my mom
and dad were always trying to give me courage when I felt I should be giving them courage.
And, of course, Siamak, Christiane, you -- your perfect example of how he fought back with what little he had to try to get out of that hell hole.
How he tried to scream. I thought I was doing good, but obviously, it wasn't enough because it took eight years. And I'm so glad that he was able
to get his voice heard while he was in Iranian custody.
And again, this amazing moment, which for me was only a dream. It had felt after eight years. I mean, 2,000 -- I think it was 2,898 days for Siamak,
two-thirds of that for my dad. If you take the other hostages, you know, Morad and Emad and others who have become like my -- our brothers, oh, my
God, Christiane, I mean, they're home.
NAMAZI: And no matter how hard I tried and no matter how much I did and other families did, it seemed to be going nowhere, that we're just going in
circles all this time. And the time finally came. And thank you to everyone who made this happen. You know, of course, with President Biden who made
the very, very brave and difficult decision, but he puts -- you know, he puts the lives of Americans first and, you know, he brought our families
home. And it's just amazing to be able to be together after these dreadful years.
You know, simple acts of just being the four of us together. We were just deprived of physically being in the same room for four years, Christiane. I
mean, can you imagine?
NAMAZI: That alone --
AMANPOUR: No, I can't.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I can't. And that's why this is such an extraordinary story. And I do think that your brother deserves a huge amount of credit for the
courage he took to call an international network from a prison cell, from Evin of all places --
NAMAZI: Yes. It terrified me.
AMANPOUR: -- which we all know what it's about.
NAMAZI: Terrified me. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And believe me, the responsibility on us was heavy as well. We hoped that it did not backfire against him. And fortunately, the result
anyway-months later is released.
AMANPOUR: So, we're very happy about that. But can I ask you, he's been offered by the United States, you know, reentry, counseling, therapy, all
of that. Is he availing himself of that? And how do -- I know you say he's in shock. What is he's state of mind and how has he been with your parent
NAMAZI: I mean, yes. I mean, to your first question, he has accepted it and we're grateful for the opportunity because, you know, after going through
that horror and just being isolated and going through what he did, it's appreciated that we're getting support for him to get, you know, medical
checkups, psychological assistance, you know, whatever is needed.
And that -- he's in that program right now. I anticipate he'll be there the next few days. It gives him an opportunity to transition as opposed to just
coming out, and I don't know what it's like. He's obviously extremely grateful as well and appreciative of freedom.
I mean, I saw this unravelling on CNN, obviously, as did millions of people around the world. And there was that one moment when he's coming out on the
plane, and you can tell that he takes that sigh of -- you know, the first breath of free air. Incredible. Incredible.
NAMAZI: Never -- yes. It's just amazing.
NAMAZI: And I think --
AMANPOUR: Yes. We saw him and we're seeing it now.
AMANPOUR: Yes. We're seeing -- sorry. I don't mean to interrupt you. I just want to say, we're seeing those first pictures as he stopped and looked
around on steps of the Qatar Airways plane. And he said in his statement that he wants to lie on the grass, feel the sun on his feet -- on his face.
I just want to ask you one last question, because your lawyer, Jared Genser, called your mother the silent hero. She had been there pretty much
all along. Even though she could have left, she didn't.
NAMAZI: Yes. I implored her and more importantly Siamak. You know, of course -- you know, though I want to take care of her, you know, at this
age for her and my, you know, dad, but, you know, for her to be in such a situation, I was like, mom, you know, come out -- and, of course, Siamak,
we will keep fighting.
But she's a mother. Be it an infant or be it a 80-year-old child, she could not abandon her child. And she stood with him -- and my dad, of course, you
know, until the last moment possible. And in spite of the intense and incredible pressure she was on, she fought on. She's a resilient woman. She
has given me so much to learn, as well as Siamak. And she waited until the last moment that she could, which was get on that plane with Siamak to make
sure that he's safe.
So, you know, mom, we love you so much and thank you. Thank you for, you know, taking care of your children and of course, all of us. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: That's really beautiful and very emotional. And you're a great family and you've had such strength to get through this.
AMANPOUR: So, congratulations.
NAMAZI: We're grateful. Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And we turn now, of course, to Qatar -- yes. You -- you know, it's great. Let's talk now and turn to Qatar, the country that did help
mediate this deal in great part. My exclusive interview with the Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani. He told me this
diplomatic breakthrough will hopefully and definitely lead to a better environment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, welcome back to the program.
AL THANI, QATARI PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much for having me.
AMANPOUR: Tell us about this amazing deal that you were instrumental in helping to seal. What was it or what was the moment that you knew it was
going to be possible to reach a deal between Iran and the United States to free the prisoners?
AL THANI: Well, first of all I would like to congratulate the families of prisoners to have them back and seeing them. And I hope all are in good
health. We always believe -- we always have a faith and believe that we can help. We can facilitate, especially humanitarian situations.
We've been through a lot of challenges throughout the negotiations. Honestly, none of the parties was easy in the negotiation, but we tried our
best in order to create the trust between us and then -- and create the trust between them in order to have this deal happening. It took us a month
until we reached this agreement. But we have seen that the desire and determination of both parties to implement the agreement in good faith, and
this something we commend both parties for doing.
AMANPOUR: I mean, goodish faith, they weren't even together, right? They weren't even in the same hotels. You had to relay back and forth.
AL THANI: Well, let's -- everything has its own challenges. But at the end of the day, results are what matters and what matters now that the
prisoners are back with families.
AMANPOUR: As a human being, did you find it emotional when the -- you know, the whole world saw on live television the Qatar Airways plane opened the
door and down they came?
AL THANI: Well, we were so proud to see that Qatar helped in bringing those people back to their families, definitely. I mean, all of us on all levels
were there, from his highness, myself, the entire guard (ph) and the people of Qatar, we are so proud that Qatar could make such a thing.
AMANPOUR: I mean, many people like to think that this could be the beginning of rapprochement between Iran and the United States. They've --
the U.S. has ruled that out. Maybe Iran has as well. Nonetheless, do you think it's the beginning of a building block? In order words, is there any
thoughts that perhaps it could lead to a new nuclear deal?
AL THANI: Well, look, Christiane, I cannot claim that this will lead to a nuclear deal. But it's going definitely to a better environment. We've been
doing this mediating between countries between -- mediating in different issues for decades now. And in our experience, we know that in complex
situations, you need to unlock it by rebuilding the confidence between the parties.
And I believe what happened yesterday, actually, was a great building block for rebuilding the confidence between the two countries. I hope both
countries are believing this is -- will lead to a better environment to go for an entire agreement on the nuclear issue and any other outstanding
issue. At the end of the day, what we want for our region is stability.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask just you, you know, there's been a lot of talk about, you know, the Iran, Saudi Arabia rapprochement through the auspices of
China, then even bigger people have said, well, maybe Iran and maybe Saudi Arabia and Israel, maybe there's a huge big Middle Eastern deal to be done.
Do you see the possibility of that in the near future?
AL THANI: Well, definitely the Middle East and especially with us in the region went through the last couple of years -- before that, we were going
through challenges. Now, we are going in a better positive environment of rapprochement. We hear also, you know, about Israel.
But from our perspective, as State of Qatar, we see that we don't have a war with Israel as a region. The reason that we have the conflict with
Israel is over the occupation of the Palestinian territories. And what we are asking for is the stated for the Palestinians, and that's what
basically been mentioned in that peace initiative that came out in 2001, and all Arab countries has adopted that.
We believe to bring peace to the region, the starting point should be between the Israeli and the Palestinians. Normalization agreement happening
between countries, it's their sovereign decision at the end of the day. One has the right to question that as no one has the right to question our
sovereign foreign policy decisions. But we think that, from our perspective, the Israeli issue is only the issue of the Palestinians.
AMANPOUR: And yet, it seems that that issue is off the boiling front burner. It's just nobody is paying any attention to that. And I want to ask
you many -- even Americans I've talked to feel that there is a sort of sucking sound as the United States pulls out of the Middle East. Do you
feel that? The U.S. is pulling back influence and responsibility?
AL THANI: Well, I think that with what we have seen in the past couple of years, we have seen more and more engagement with the U.S. We see their
commitment to the defense of the Gulf Region and joint trainings are ongoing and we have a great military relationship with the U.S. We've been
doing a lot of work together. And we did (ph) airbase hosting more than 10,000 U.S. U.S. men and women in uniforms. And we didn't see any changes
in that happening.
We believe that, yes, the world is -- I mean, they are busy with other things but --
AMANPOUR: Like China? There's sort of a shift towards China.
AL THANI: But also, the Russian Ukraine war is something big that's happening to the world and I think the entire world. I won't call it
reprioritizing, but it's taking more time, of course, from them than the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: Do you see any concerted the efforts to try to push Putin towards basically ending this war or figuring out a way to negotiate it? And you've
all agreed and you voted, the majority of the General Assembly, the U.N. family has voted to condemn the illegal invasion. And yet, there doesn't
seem to be a coordinated concerted movement to Putin to explain that nobody supports him in this war.
AL THANI: Well, from our perspective, Christiane, first of all, we are against this war from the beginning. Invading country, occupying territory
is something not acceptable for us, for the International Community. It's violating the international law, and this is something all of us, we need
to be clear with.
What's happening right now, unfortunately, we always see talks about continuation of war but not really how to seek peace and how to end this
war. And this is something very frustrating for us and for a lot of the countries, which are considered or called today the Global South, because
they are suffering from the results of this war with (INAUDIBLE), the grain supply, with their -- the energy supply.
And we have seen this even throughout the debate here at the U.N. this year. We have seen a very strong momentum from the European countries, from
the U.S. to support Ukraine, and this is something we totally understand. We totally want to stand with any country that's been subject to attack.
But also, this is raising the bottom, the expectation for other smaller countries which believe they are neglected in that. And they became more
and more excited that these rules which was applied and advocated for Ukraine would be advocated for them with -- and the occupation of the
The world cannot be held in double standards. I mean, that's what's now the bottom line for most of the developing countries. And they want to see the
same commitment towards them as well. And this is, I think -- this is the key. And the key now is how to find peace in that war and end it and any
occupation. But also, to look at the other issues, whether the suffering of the Syrian people, the Palestinians, and others like, the Rohingyas in
Myanmar, all over the world we see these conflicts.
AMANPOUR: I mean, your region is basically straddling the fence on this. What do you think -- what would Qatar think if Putin won?
AL THANI: If Putin --
AMANPOUR: If Putin wins.
AL THANI: Wins the war?
AL THANI: Violating of -- what the definition will be of winning? That's violating the international law by changing borders is not something
acceptable for any country, whether it's a small or big, it shouldn't be accepted for anyone. We hope that this war ended in a peaceful way. Each
country understands each other's concerns, but the borders are not changed.
AMANPOUR: And what are you doing? We understand that Qatar is doing quite a lot to try to help bring the abducted children back. And obviously, Putin
has been indicted as long as -- as well as his, you know, chief child administrator in Russia for the abduction of Ukrainian children. What are
AL THANI: Well, I was visiting Russia and I already -- I have -- I had a meeting with President Putin. I spoke to him about several issues. The
children issue was one of the top items in my agenda. They have accepted the cooperation from our side. We are starting now the discussion between
us and them and, of course, the commission in Ukraine whom I visited after that and I visited the commission itself and I've seen some of the returnee
-- returned children over there.
And in Qatar, we see that, yes, we've been doing a lot in mediation. This war is something big globally. And we think that we can help in some
humanitarian aspects of that. And, of course, the children is one of the top of our agenda.
AMANPOUR: Prime minister, thank you very indeed.
AL THANI: Thank you. Thank you very much, Christiane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the second part of that interview will air either later this week or in the next few days. Now, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr
Zelenskyy, is acutely aware of how much the war in Ukraine is monopolizing the conversation at the U.N. And he addressed that loud and clear
yesterday, to remind the audience that ending Russia's invasion will mean the world can actually try to turn back to solving issues like our
existential climate crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We must act united to defeat the aggressor and focus all our capabilities and energy on addressing these
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That likely would have pleased leaders from developing nations, because they look to the industrialized world to help them adapt to our
rapidly warming situation.
Joining me now is the former U.S. vice president and climate campaigner, Al Gore. His documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," won two Oscars in 2006. And
the year later, he was awarded Noble Peace Prize for sounding the alarm on our climate crisis. And he's joining me right now. Welcome back to the
AL GORE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you for having me back.
AMANPOUR: So, here we are, everybody's talk is climate week, all the leaders.
AMANPOUR: And what do we have? One of the permanent five members of the Security Council, the British prime minister today decides to rollback or
slow walk the U.K.'s net zero and green energy policies. How is that possible? What does it say actually?
GORE: Well, first of all, I'm not a citizen of the United Kingdom and it will be for the people of the U.K. to decide how to react to this. But I
will say on a personal basis, I find it shocking and really disappointing, of course. I think he's done the wrong thing.
I've heard from many of my friends in the U.K., including a lot of conservative party members, by the way, who have used the phrase utter
disgust. And some of the young people there feel as if their generation has been stabbed in the back. I mean, it's really shocking to me. But again,
this is an issue for the U.K. to handle.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, you've weighed in as a global climate leader. So, I want you to know what you think as a politician and as an expert. He
claims, Sunak, that this will not deter or slow down or hurt Britain's capacity to meet net zero goal by 2050. And his home secretary, who I'm not
sure her credentials on climate knowledge, but says, we are not going to save planet by bankrupting the British people. There are a couple things in
GORE: Look, there are people who have very close relationships with the fossil fuel polluters, who have learned how to deflect the blame for doing
whatever the fossil fuel companies want them to do. And again, this is an issue for the U.K. I'm uncomfortable not being a citizen there speaking up
in their political system. But from a global perspective, this is not what the world needs from the United Kingdom.
And I hope and expect that maybe the people of the U.K. will bring about a change in the nation's perspective, and even possibly the leadership. I
don't know about that.
AMANPOUR: But you know what's interesting, the U.K. used to be a known global leader on all of this.
GORE: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: So, it really is a change.
AMANPOUR: But here, I want to ask you this as well. Because, you know, President Biden is the only leader, the only leader of one of the permanent
five to actually be here. And I wonder what that says to you about, you know, the consensus or lack thereof, the ability in this divided world to
address issues by the most powerful nations, not just the war in Ukraine but also the climate crisis?
GORE: Well, I think that it's important to point out that there is a lot of good news. We are seeing dramatic progress in the deployment of solar
electricity, wind electricity, electric vehicles. India 93, percent of all electricity production last year was solar and wind. 88 percent of all the
new globally was renewables. EV's are now 20 percent of new car sales and on the way up rapidly.
However, in spite of that and other good news, the crisis is obviously still getting worse faster than we are deploying these solutions. In past
morally based global efforts, there have been times in -- you know, the abolition movement, women's suffrage, civil rights in this country and
others, where the campaigners, the advocates felt discouraged and worried. But then once the underbrush is cleared away and the central issue is
revealed, as a choice between right and wrong, then the outcome is for ordain. And never has it been more clear.
Look at what's happening around the world. I mean, every night on the TV news is like a nature hike through the book of revelation. Look at the
catastrophe in Libya, made 50 times more likely by the climate crisis. And that same day, there were other catastrophes related to the climate crisis
all around the world. People are waking up. And the fossil fuel companies have used their wealth and influence and political connections to slow
things down. And they fight tooth and nail against anything that would reduce the burning of oil and gas and coal. And there are much better at
capturing politicians than they are at capturing emissions. And you can sometimes tell when they captured one.
AMANPOUR: Well, you can have been very loud and clear about that. So, what do you make -- and I know you've spoken about it at COP27 in Egypt, but
COP28 is going to be chair, the President is actually one of those people. He is the UAE director of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
Now, many have said, well, we have to have exactly that kind of person involved because they know what's going on and they're the ones who are
responsible for all of this.
GORE: Well, they have portrayed -- the fossil fuel industry has portrayed itself as a trusted source of the advice we need to solve this crisis.
They're not. They are -- they have been deceiving us. Some of the largest companies have committed outright fraud for several decades. Deceiving
people by pretending the crisis isn't real or that it's good for us, or pretending that they're solving it with some these Rube Goldberg
contraptions, like trying to suck it back out of the air as soon as they use the sky as an open sewer.
We cannot trust them. They've spent only 1 percent of their revenue on anything like solar and wind and electric vehicles. They have an incentive
to keep producing more and more fossil fuels and burning it and using the sky as an open sewer. And it is hurting everyone who lives on planet earth.
Now, people are waking up to it and they're demanding that we change and do something about this.
AMANPOUR: So, in our democratic world, as you say, people are waking up to it. It is actually a voting issue for many young people in the United
States and across the world. So, what needs to be done to give that voice more power that it is actually reflected in leaders and companies like the
ones you're targeting?
GORE: Well, I think that we have seen the emergence of the single largest grass roots movement in the history of the world. You saw the 75,000 people
marching on, they didn't expect anything like that here if Manhattan.
AMANPOUR: Yes. On Sunday, we saw it.
GORE: This weekend, and in cities and countries around the world. It's not only young people. People are mobilizing now. I think we are getting very
close to a political tipping point beyond which political leaders are going to oppose progress at their peril.
AMANPOUR: Now, going back to the idea of fossil fuels, like the chicken -- you know, or the fox in charge of the chickens. You have said what you've
said about how fossil fuel companies should not be in charge of the situation because they proved themselves to not -- you know, to not have
But now, President Biden's climate czar, John Kerry, doesn't agree with you. He says, we have to bring all those people in, you know, in order to -
- you know, the attendance of industry executives is necessary to effect the change we're talking about.
GORE: Well, if this were a pro climate athletic team, I would say he's playing a different position on the field than I am. I've heard enough and
seen enough to no longer believe that the fossil fuel companies have any credibility. Every measure to cut the burning of fossil fuels locally and
the state level, national or international level, these oil and gas companies are in there fighting tooth and nail to stop, to delay, to block,
and all the while pretending that they're trying to help out. They're not trying to help out.
It may not be fair to expect them to solve it for us, but it is abundantly fair to ask them to stop blocking the efforts of others to solve this
AMANPOUR: And it's not just them though, Vice President, because even the president of the United States, should he or she feel so inclined, can do
the same. President Biden did the -- you know, the special legislation for inflation reduction, which involved a lot of payment for mitigation. But
President Trump, before him, hacked and burned and slashed at all the American rules and regulations. Actually, put people in places because of
their hostility to regulation. So, right or not?
GORE: Well, it is right. But there's a big contrast between --
AMANPOUR: I mean, no matter what the court does or what the Congress does - -
GORE: But they're not the same at all. And one of the reasons why President Biden became president was his advocacy for solutions to the climate
crisis. And what he has presided over is the passage of by far the biggest and best climate legislation that any country has ever passed in history.
He's done some things I don't agree with, but what he has done, in a positive way, far outweighs the rest. He has been a genuine leader on this
issue. And the Congress passed the IRA. It's going to put more than a trillion dollars into speeding up the deployment of alternative sources of
AMANPOUR: And what happens if a Donald Trump comes back? We saw the --
GORE: Oh, I'm not going to speculate on that.
AMANPOUR: On climate or somebody like him with those views?
GORE: I don't like to speculate on that, for the same reason I don't like to watch horror movies.
AMANPOUR: So, it will be a horror?
GORE: Well, you know, I believe in the integrity of American democracy and I choose to believe --
AMANPOUR: Do you though?
GORE: Yes, I do.
AMANPOUR: In terms of his issue?
GORE: Yes, I do.
AMANPOUR: Because even -- as I said, even if Congress and the others, you know, pass certain things, you know, an executive order or a court case
could reverse them?
GORE: Well, you know, the old Churchill cliche, it's the worst form of government ever invented except for every other form that's been --
AMANPOUR: OK. How badly damaged and at risk is American democracy for precisely these kinds of issues and, indeed, reducing poverty and keeping
GORE: Well, in order to solve the climate crisis, we do have to pay attention to the democracy crisis. We are seeing the influence of big money
playing way too big a role in the American political system, and that needs to be addressed. We have rules now that allow secret giant donations from
corporations without anybody knowing where they're sending the money. That is deadly to the integrity of democracy.
But I believe that the American people will set this ship right. I think democracy has more resilience than we sometimes give it credit for having.
AMANPOUR: And do you think that Ukraine war -- it was very interesting to hear President Zelenskyy in there talk about Libya, Morocco, talk about the
climate that we've all seen all over world this summer and say, yes, we actually need to solve this war in order to concentrate even more on the
AMANPOUR: -- you know --
GORE: And Ukraine has the opportunity to be a renewal energy powerhouse, by the way. I've met with their solar developers and their wind developers and
they're connected to the European grid. There's -- they have plans to be major participants in this clean energy revolution.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you one last question? We're all getting up in years, I'm not even going to ask you how old you are. But what about the debate
over age and leadership that's swirling around President Biden for instance?
GORE: Congratulations on your 40 years --
AMANPOUR: Thanks a lot.
GORE: -- career. OK? Well, but look, you're better than ever.
AMANPOUR: Well, there you go.
GORE: You're better than ever.
AMANPOUR: That's true. That's true.
GORE: And I think, honestly, President Biden, I think he has done an extraordinarily good job in the main. And I've learned from my owner
experience in the White House that the presidency is a team sport. And I think he has one of the best teams that's ever been put in place in the
White House. So, I'm optimistic that he's going to prevail.
AMANPOUR: Excellent. Thank you very much.
GORE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Vice President Gore, thank you very much, indeed.
GORE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Take care.
So, at the UNGA, it is as much about who isn't here, as I said, as who is. Of the five permanent Security Council members, the United States, Russia,
China, France and the U.K., only President Biden is the leader attending. The center piece of his speech was about standing with Ukraine in defense
of global democracy.
The growing north global -- sorry, the growing North and Global South divide, and China's evolving competition for power and its role on the
world stage. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: When it comes to China, I want to be clear and consistent. We seek to responsibly manage the competition between our
countries so it does not tip into conflict. I've said we are for de- risking, not de-coupling with China. We'll push back on aggression and intimidation to defend the rules of road, from freedom of navigation to
overflight, to level economic playing field, that it helps safeguard security and prosperity for decades. But we also stand ready to work
together with China on issues where progress hinges on our common efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Singapore and its Southeast Asian neighbors navigate a tricky middle ground in a very tense relationship between China and the
United States. Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan is the Singapore minister for foreign affairs, and he's joining me now.
And I written that down phonetically. Can you please tell me your last name so I get it right again?
VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN, SINGAPOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Balakrishnan.
AMANPOUR: Balakrishnan. There you go. I had a hyphen. So, I could say it right.
BALAKRISHNAN: You got it right. You got it right.
AMANPOUR: I want to get it right. Tell me about this then, neither Xi Jinping nor, you know, the other permanent five members were here except
for President Biden. How much are you feeling the pressure in Indo-Pacific region as this sort of tempo escalates between the two powers?
BALAKRISHNAN: Well, first thing you need to understand, Singapore is a tiny city state. Multiracial, multilingual in the heart of Southeast Asia. We
feel this trouble in a very real sense. War in Europe is still going on. There's food and energy insecurity, climate change, the digital revolution,
the promise and the risk of A.I., all these things are happening.
And now, more than ever before, we need global leadership. We need -- the problems are beyond that of just the United States or China or Europe. In
fact, it needs the whole world together. What we are seeing here at the U.N. now is an organization that's showing it's capable of walking and
chewing gum, right? And that's why you got to deal with all these crises.
AMANPOUR: Even without the big leaders?
BALAKRISHNAN: Even without the big leaders, but their teams are here. And look, we're living in a day and age you can transmit messages live.
AMANPOUR: OK. Do you believe some of the conversations around how the Russian illegal war against Ukraine is kind of sucking the oxygen out of
many, many other important issues?
BALAKRISHNAN: I think that was the fear last year. This year, particularly if you look what's happened in the last three days, it's part of the theme,
it's not gone away, it's a direct frontal assault from U.N. charter risk to small city states like us. I mean, territorial integrity is sacred. But the
litany of other problems, the fact that we are behind time in achieving a sustainable development goals, the fact that we are not meeting the Paris
Agreement and commitments.
So, the fact that climate change with extreme weather events are clear and present danger. All of that --
AMANPOUR: And for you particularly. They say -- I mean, you're one of the fastest heating urban -- I mean, you're a city state.
BALAKRISHNAN: We're a city state.
AMANPOUR: Yes. But it's hot.
BALAKRISHNAN: An island. One degree north of the equator. We couldn't stand here at midday in Singapore without being completely drenched. So, a world
which is hotter is a world which is hostile to a place like mine.
AMANPOUR: Tell me how you navigate what I described as a rather tricky bridge between East and West at this particular time, you know, in the
BALAKRISHNAN: First point, we've got great relations with the United States and with China. And it's not just a form of which United States is the
biggest foreign investor in Singapore, also the biggest service trading partner we've seen. China is our biggest trading partner for goods.
We're a significant investor in China, as we have also investments in the United States. So, for us, the best possible world is one in which the two
big boys get along.
AMANPOUR: And how will they get along?
BALAKRISHNAN: Well, that's not something you and I can wish on or impose on President Biden or President Xi. But let me just say for someone who's been
there, interacted with them, neither side is actually spoiling for a war. But the fundamental problem is the lack of strategic trust. What that means
is both sides have to assume the worst of each other. And then, they've got to take precautions. And then, that precaution is viewed as a potential
threat and you take a counter precaution and the dangers and escalatory spiral.
Our recommendation is there's needs to be a lot more direct face-to-face interaction. There is no substitute eyeball to eyeball, handshake to
handshake and having honest to goodness conversations.
AMANPOUR: This apparently is going to happen at the important --
BALAKRISHNAN: I hope so.
AMANPOUR: -- meeting in San Francisco.
BALAKRISHNAN: I hope so. Yes. And I --
AMANPOUR: What are your hopes for that?
BALAKRISHNAN: That they meet, that they engage.
AMANPOUR: What's the best that could happen out of there? The most?
BALAKRISHNAN: The beginning of a real strategic conversation. If you go back -- well, we're both of a certain vintage. If you go back four decades.
You had the Soviet Union. You had the United States of America. As far as nuclear arms were concerned, they were peer powers.
BALAKRISHNAN: There was strategic restraint, there was deterrence, you could have conversations about arms limitations.
BALAKRISHNAN: Today, because the situation is still evolving so rapidly, neither side has really sized each other up and said, look, guys, we better
put some guardrails, and not guardrails in a negative aggressive sense, but guardrails around both of us so we don't lose the plot. Now, that can only
happen if they meet, interact, generate some strategic trust and then get to do a few things together. And there's a lot to do together, the
pandemic, climate change, A.I.
Do we need regulations? What about the SDGs? Can that be done without the United States and China? And the answer is no.
AMANPOUR: And yet, there seems to be a hardening of the political structure in China and most, certainly, the president is under very strong political
pressure to sound tough on China. So, I want to ask you. How seriously does your government take reports that China is trying to influence ethnic
Chinese populations across Southeast Asia, including in your country, your city state?
Former permanent secretary in the ministry says, if too many Chinese Singaporeans are foolish enough to subscribe to Xi's version of the China
dream, the multiracial social cohesion that is the foundation of Singapore's success will be destroyed. Once destroyed, it cannot be put
BALAKRISHNAN: Well, let me put it to you this way. Singapore is a young city state. Multiracial, multilingual. We are not Chinese. We're not
Indians. We are not Malays. We're certainly not Americans. I'm confident that there is a very strong sense of a Singapore identity. We may speak
different languages of different colors, but if you come to Singapore, and I hope you do --
AMANPOUR: I've been.
BALAKRISHNAN: -- you will realize there is a strong sense of identity. The next point is we don't look at the world in binary terms. Meaning, cultural
pride, linguistic proficiency, being able to understand and to appreciate opportunities both in the West and East, in India and in Europe is a
strategic advantage for us. So, the fact that we understand and therefore, some people may think they have opportunities to influence us, that's baked
into our cultural --
AMANPOUR: So, you're detected and you're deterring it?
BALAKRISHNAN: So, it is something which we need to be aware of, it is something which we take appropriate precautions on. But my fundamental
point is this, I trust Singaporeans, that we put our identity. And most important, we understand what our long-term national interests are. And
it's not to be anybody's vessel state or proxy.
The way we navigate this nexus between the United States and China is to be straight with both of them. We tell them, we have our own long-term
national interest. Both of you are critical to our long-term national interest. And I don't have the luxury of saying sweet nothing's in Beijing
and sweet nothing's in Washington.
AMANPOUR: Can I --
BALAKRISHNAN: So, be clear constructive honest broker.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you a human rights question?
AMANPOUR: Amnesty International has noted the resumption of executions in your country for nonviolent crimes like drug related offenses. Last year,
major criticism after the execution of a Malaysian man with a very, very, very low IQ, according to his lawyers. Five women -- first woman in 20
years executed in the summer. Why?
BALAKRISHNAN: We are extremely draconian with -- for drug trafficking. It gives me --
AMANPOUR: Even somebody who is barely --
BALAKRISHNAN: It gives me no --
AMANPOUR: -- at 69 IQ?
BALAKRISHNAN: It gives me no joy for every case that is executed for drug trafficking. But here's the rub of it. Even in the United States, the drug
problem is real. Second point, if you look in my neighborhood, that's where the stuff is grown. It's processed. Third point, Singapore is a place where
our trading volume is three times our GDP. Can you imagine if we did not take a strong stand on drug trafficking, we would be a nexus, the process
in which it would reach even your shore.
So, I take no joy in this, but I'm just making the point that we take a very, very harsh position on drugs.
AMANPOUR: Well, I'm glad to have you on the record on this. Foreign Minister, thank you very much indeed. Appreciate you being with us.
BALAKRISHNAN: You must come to Singapore again.
AMANPOUR: Will do. Thank you.
BALAKRISHNAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And finally, more than just a tennis match. 50 years ago today, Billy Jean King thrashed a self-described male chauvinist pig, he was Bobby
Riggs. And that was the battle of the sexes. So, on this 50th anniversary, here's Billy Jean King with a few reflections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Billy Jean King, welcome back to the program.
KING: Thank you. It's great to see and hear you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: All right. Listen to me, this is unbelievable. This week marks 50 years since you beat Bobby Riggs in the battle of sexes. Tell me if you
remember, what do you remember most 50 years ago about Bobby Riggs and that match?
KING: I remember shaking hands with him afterwards and he said to me, I underestimated you. I'll never forget that because my dad used to tell my
brother -- me and my brother played major league baseball -- he always told us to respect our opponent and never ever underestimate them, never.
And so, I just couldn't wait to tell my dad. I said, daddy, daddy, he said he underestimated me, just exactly what you tell Randy and me never ever
do, and always respect your opponent even if you don't like them.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you what do you think would have happened had you lost? What would have been the impact?
KING: I think it would have been huge. We just had Title Nine passed a year before, the Educational Amendment, which I think would have gotten
weakened. There were so many things that we had not accomplished, women could not get a credit card on their own.
I thought a little bit about if we lost but I thought more about what we could do if we won. And I knew that we'd have a much bigger impact, in
which we did. I mean, I still have people coming up to me in. And the one - - the most important thing I think I've heard over the last 50 years is the impact it had on women and their self-confidence. And for the men, for the
first time many of the men thought about their daughters, and all of a sudden, they said, you know what, I do want my daughter to have equal
opportunity with my son. And I think it really started to change hearts and minds of people.
AMANPOUR: So, Billie Jean, that means I have to ask you this question, I'm asking a lot of leaders about age. And I don't think it's a secret that in
two months or so you will be 80 years old. Honestly, you look like, I don't know, not a day over 50 and you act like an Energizer Bunny.
So, given all this talk about age around President Biden, given the Romney reason, as I like to say, for stepping down and not contesting another
Senate race in order to give the ground to the next generation, what are your thoughts on age and leadership?
KING: I think it depends on the person, what kind of health they're in and what they want to do. But President Biden, if he feels good, he's had so
much experience. But I think ageism is really a problem in this country, and you have to really judge each human being where they're at, not by
AMANPOUR: So, how about you? How does it affect you? You just don't seem to slow down.
KING: Well, you get slower. But the main thing is stay active, be social, do what you like what you're doing, to stay active, be -- go to work and
have fun. But I feel great. There is no way I'm going to slow down right now.
AMANPOUR: At the U.S. Open, Coco Gauff, the new women's champion, a teenager thanked you for making it possible to have equal pay and for all
the other things you have done. Do you see a new generation of American women and men emerging? For a long time it was Eastern Europeans and
KING: Yes, I think the Americans, we had a great U.S. Open. And Coco, of course, we've been waiting for her to win big, and she won really big. And
she is so eloquent. She's such a great athlete. She's got everything, we've known that a long time. I've listened to her at 16 years of age talk about
social justice. And I went, she's the one, because she can do so much on the court, but what she can do off the court as well is going to be
sensational. And she's got a good family and her grandmother is the force. Her grandmother is the first black child that went to a white school in
Florida. And so, she made a huge difference as an example to her grandchild, Coco.
AMANPOUR: All that history. Billy Jean King, thank you so much.
KING: Thanks. Thanks a lot. Really great talking with you, Christiane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Following in footsteps that are very, very hard to fill. 50 years since Billy Jean King brought equal pay to the U.S. Open, 50 years since
she created the world Women's Tennis Association, the WTA, and now, establishing a woman's professional ice hockey league in North America.
Drafting the first players earlier this week.
And that is it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York and the United Nations.