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CNN International: Kremlin: Kim Jong-Un to Visit Russia in "Coming Days"; Race to Find Survivors as Death Toll Rises to Nearly 2,500; U.S. President Meets With Top Officials in Hanoi; 341 New York Firefighters Die from 9/11 Illness. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2023 - 08:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to CNN "Newsroom", I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is reportedly on a train heading to Russia right now for meeting with Vladimir Putin will have the latest. The scale of devastation in Morocco becomes clearer by the day.

As rescue teams work against the clock to find any remaining survivors from Friday's powerful earthquake. And after weeks of scandal over allegations of an unsolicited kiss, Spain's football boss is resigned, what he's saying coming up. We'll begin with what could be a potentially significant meeting between two of the world's most ostracized leaders.

A South Korean government official tells CNN that Kim Jong-Un appears to be on a train heading to Russia right now. And the Kremlin confirms the North Korean leader will visit Russia in the coming days. It comes one week after U.S. officials warned that Putin and Kim are expected to meet to discuss a possible arms deal.

CNN's Nic Robertson is with us in London. But first we can go to Paula Hancocks, who joins me now, live from the South Korean capital. What do we know, Paula, about the visit?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, it was confirmed also by the North Korean state run media KCNA saying that Kim Jong-Un would be going soon to the Russian Federation at the invitation of Vladimir Putin and as we have from the Kremlin side in the coming days.

So time wise we don't have specifics at this point, but the government official telling CNN that he is believed to be already on his way heading northeast, towards the border with Russia and Vladivostok. Now we know from Russian state media that Vladimir Putin is already in Vladivostok.

And this is a potential meeting that both Washington and Seoul do not want to see happen. But it is a meeting that both had predicted could happen. We heard from U.S. officials last week that they believed that there was active engagement to try and secure some kind of arms deal between Russia and North Korea. And they believed that it would be some kind of leader to lead a meeting that would push it forward. Now we saw back in July, the Russian Defense Minister in Pyongyang, he was given the red carpet treatment by Kim Jong-Un. He was shown a military parade, he was also shown through an arms Expo in Pyongyang.

And it really was putting all of North Korea's weapons capabilities on show and on display for this VIP guest. And that is the concern of both U.S. intelligence and also South Korean intelligence that this is a deal. The both sides stand to benefit from the Russian side that they need more ammunition.

They need more small arms, something which we know and analysts confirm North Korea has great production capability of and is able to provide. And then from the North Korean side, what they would like is deeper nuclear and missile technology that they could get from Russia, the satellite technology, for example.

The past couple of attempts North Korea has made to put a military satellite into space have failed, and also potential nuclear submarine technology as well. That is what Pyongyang could get out of this. So both sides really do stand to gain and there are concerns about what exactly any kind of deal would look like.

That also the U.S. officials have pointed out that there would be repercussions if this kind of arms deal were to go ahead pointing out that there are U.N. sanctions, there are resolutions banning this kind of deal with North Korea, in fact, Security Council resolutions that in the past Russia have signed on to.

But at this point, it does appear as though Kim Jong-Un is on his way to Russia potentially for this meeting with the Russian President. And it is a meeting that the both sides stand to gain both militarily and politically. It's no secret that both are united by a common enemy, which is the United States.

And they would both like to see an alternative world order a world where the U.S. is less powerful and of course where these U.N. resolutions are less able to be imposed, Max.

FOSTER: Paula, thank you. Nic, let's talk a bit more about those international concerns. I mean, we've seen photos, there of how they these two men have met before but it's the timing, this time, isn't it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is just when Russia is really desperate for ammunition to use on the frontlines in Ukraine. And I think one of the headline takeaways from this has to be if Russia does make a deal to buy ammunition and perhaps artillery.

And it is those sorts of frontline items that get used up at a very high rate on the frontlines in Ukraine. It's what the Russian forces use to hold back the Ukrainian advanced that in minds.

[08:05:00] So if Russia gets more of these and we know that Putin has already stepped up production at his own armaments factories in Russia some of them working 24/7, the war will go on longer. And that's a destabilizing factor, particularly when he's pulled out of the grain deal.

This is, and we saw it at the G 20 played out in the fact that there's been debate and discussion that over the joint communique when it came to Ukraine, because there are differences of opinion. It's not just a war in Ukraine. It's political and diplomatic divisions across the world.

So they last longer. And then, of course, as Paula was saying that there's the counterpoint for the international community, the proliferation of dangerous arms and weapons technology to a pariah state. And that is also cause for concern, what does Kim Jong-Un do with a potentially nuclear powered submarine when it's already trying to project the image of the capability to fire missiles from unknown places at short notice at the United States, for example.

What does he do with that? So, all of these concerns will be amplified by the meeting. And of course, they're very unlikely to walk out of that meeting with a joint statement that says, yes, we've agreed to this level of production at this level of arms commitment, but the reality is there the ground works in place.

Russian officials have said they don't care what other countries think, Putin needs this in the war of attrition loss is an existential threat for him. He appears to be doubling down in that war.

FOSTER: OK, Nic and Paula, thank you both. We'll be watching all the developments if that train is indeed on the way. Now, crews in Morocco are frantically searching through rubble to find survivors some 62 hours after the devastating earthquake flattened entire villages.

Nearly 2500 people are confirmed dead and the quake struck late on Friday in the High Atlas Mountains and had a magnitude of 6.8. The situation is especially dire in remote mountain villages close to the epicenter. Roads have been blocked by landslides in some areas nearly impossible to access.

These photos show a mountain village that's been almost entirely wiped out. More than 100 families are live there. It's now just a pile of rubble, as you can see. CNN's Sam Kiley joins us from Asni in the Atlas Mountains with the very latest, Sam.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Max, you join me were just at eight o'clock this morning. The Moroccan military have set up a field hospital they've got 25 doctors, 48 nurses, they've got radiological tent, and a laboratory they've got surgical facilities, pharmacy psychological facilities too.

This has been a pretty rapid response by the Moroccan government to this catastrophe, a much unexpected catastrophe. But this is a situation if you like down just at the base of the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Up in those hills, the situation is much more dire and just behind that ridge there. This is what it looked like yesterday.


KILEY (voice-over): Another victim buried returned to the earth that killed when it shook. More than 2000 people have perished in the worst Moroccan earthquake in over 100 years. Most of the deaths were in villages in the Atlas Mountains, where homes cracked and crumbled late on Friday night.

KILEY: The pancaking of these buildings down a side street here in Moulay Brahim killed 25 people, three or four are still missing believe buried in the rubble. And this is a pattern that has been repeated throughout this province. And it looks very often like there's been some kind of airstrike the collapsing buildings here actually leaving holes, as if they've been hit by Russian bombs in Ukraine. But this has been an all too natural disaster.

KILEY (voice-over): At least three elderly people have been in tuned here in the remains of their hotel, and a fourth guest is missing. After the quake -- parents for a day and a half, it rang out until the battery died too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here just because they have lost two of my best thing that I have in this life. My parents, my father and my mother, I have lost them here.

KILEY (voice-over): His grief turns to anger at the government as it does for so many here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have no planification only they have words. It's a balloon of words. Only that they have worth. That's all.


KILEY (voice-over): It is arriving but slowly in Asni nearby authorities He's telling me that 27 people were killed in the quake and 1200 lost their homes.

KILEY: So -- husband have said that when they were in the house she was in the bath. When this series of explosions broke out, they said there was no shaking of the ground. She's saying that it felt likely last from a Kalashnikov automatic rifle that this was like a sense.

That the place had been hit by a war they had no idea that they were suffering from an earthquake. Luckily for them, they evacuated their family very rapidly. Nobody in their family was killed. But in the village, there was going to be and even said 27 people were killed.

KILEY (voice-over): The house is now abandoned. The Fatima led a team of local women to find food and shelter for the homeless before any aid arrived. All the food here, they result to private donations. Many villages here remain isolated roads cut by landslides, relief operations will focus on getting to them.

Firefighters consider searching for bodies beneath the hotel. Their conclusion is disappointing. Amidst shocks and shattered masonry, it's just too dangerous to rescue the dead. So for now, -- parents will stay buried where they are.


KILEY (on camera): Now, Max, this Moroccan team has been working around the world they were dealing with Syrian refugees in Jordan, they are experts. And of course, this is a camp that has really been set up to triage, see the status of people and then move them off to more formal hospitals elsewhere.

But at the same time, the Moroccan armed forces are sending large numbers of helicopters into those mountainous areas where people have been very, very hard hit, because many of them remain inaccessible because the roads of course, have been closed by this earthquake. So that death toll of some 2500 and a similar number of badly injured could rise, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Sam Kiley in Morocco. Thank you for bringing us that. Now, it's not about containing China, it's about having a stable base in the Indo-Pacific. That's the message from the U.S. President Joe Biden after his trip to India and Vietnam. Right now, President Biden heading back to the U.S. after attending the G 20 summit in New Delhi.

Followed by a stop in Vietnam, where he met with the nation's Prime Minister and unveiled a strategic partnership as well. CNN's Anna Coren joins us from Hanoi with more on President Biden's visit and it's interesting, isn't it because this is a country that has traditionally very close links with China.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very close links, largest trading partner with its northern neighbor. But it's also a problematic relationship. And Vietnamese, Max, are very pragmatic people, they will do what is best for them, and they want to be autonomous.

And that means being friends with China and with the United States. You know, what has happened here over the last day and a half is extraordinary. You know, some are saying that this is on par with Bill Clinton's visit to Vietnam in 2000, when he reestablished diplomatic ties with Vietnam.

And we heard from President Biden talking about this 50 year arc, from conflict to normalization to this elevated status of comprehensive strategic partner and exclusive club which China and Russia are part of. President Biden flies back to the United States, Max, with multi- billion dollar deals between the U.S. and Vietnamese companies.

The biggest would have to be with Boeing $7.8 billion worth of aircraft has been sold to Vietnam Airlines. We've also had deals from Nvidia, also from other semiconductor and artificial intelligence companies. This is something that the U.S. is going to cooperate with Vietnam in response to this industry, but also heavily invested in.

And it's not just about trade, it's also about the United States diversifying its supply chain away from China, but also countering China's influence and assertiveness in the region. This is something that Vietnam has real issue with particularly in the South China Sea, where China has laid claims to several islands, the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which Vietnam says a part of it.

But we heard from President Biden last night. He said America is here in the Indo-Pacific and they are not going anywhere, take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: All the effort we've advanced from day one of my administration to demonstrate to our Indo- Pacific partners and to the world that the United States is a Pacific nation, and we're not going anywhere.



COREN: Max, President Biden really stress that America is not interested in containing China. That is obviously, the dialogue that gets bandied around. You know, here America is in China's backyard doing deals with one of it's you know, key neighbors. That, you know, President Biden says, no, this is about stability.

This is about partnerships. This is a critical relationship at a critical time, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Anna Coren, thank you for joining us there from Hanoi. Still to come amid mounting pressure Luis Rubiales steps down. What happens next? Now that the man at the center of kiss gates has resigned.


FOSTER: After weeks of fighting pressure to resign the Head of Spain's Football Federation has stepped down. Luis Rubiales submitted his resignation three weeks after ignited a firestorm of controversy or giving an unwanted kiss on the lips to football player Jenni Hermoso. Rubiales claims he's the victim of excessive persecution that says continuing to fight won't result in anything positive.


LUIS RUBIALES, FORMER PRESIDENT OF SPANISH FOOTBALL FEDERATION: Yes, I'm going to, yes, because I cannot continue my work.


FOSTER: Atika Shubert following the story for us, which is clear he's not admitting any culpability here, is he? Still says he did the right thing still stands by stories just resigning for his own sake and also the sake of the sport, he says.

ATIKA SHUBERT, JOURNALIST: Yes, I mean, there's no real apology and the statement that he put out most recently, and one of the reasons he cites for resigning is actually Spain, Morocco and Portugal's bid for the 2030 World Cup, which was looking increasingly in danger as long as because he was heading up the whole pitching process. So I think it's clear it's simply a resignation to try and move the focus away from him and let the Federation continue and things are moving swiftly on. I want you to take a look at this video. Actually come out of Mexico of Jenni Hermoso, she's the star striker of course who received that rather forceful kiss from the Rubiales.

And when the news of his resignation came out, take a look at what she was doing. She was actually receiving a standing ovation from her team in Mexico, Pachuca. She has not put out any official statements since the news of his resignation broke. But, you know, I think these images say a lot on their, own.

In the meantime, the reaction here in Spain has been a lot of relief that seems to move forward from this. The Spanish Football Federation, for example put out a statement very quickly saying that it would move to have elections for a new President and her own teammates and most of the teammates actually I've also been responding -- , for example, posted a statement saying the right side of history has won.


So I think you know for a lot of people there's a relief here but it's not over yet for Rubiales especially he's now facing a legal investigation by the court system here that could result possibly in criminal charges. So there's still a way for him to go, Max.

FOSTER: OK Atika in Valencia, Spain. Thank you for joining us. Still ahead, a moment that shook a nation, 22 years later, America remembers the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the lingering health effects of those who rushed in to help, when we return.


FOSTER: U.S. marking a somber anniversary today, Americans pausing to remember the deadly attacks on September the 11th. These are the pictures coming into us now on this day 22 years ago, four planes hijacked by terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.

And the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3000 people in a matter of hours. To this day, more than 1000 people thought to have died in the disaster remain unidentified would you believe. More than 300 New York firefighters and first responders lost their lives in that tragic day.

But new data reveals that nearly the same number of firefighters died of 9/11 related illnesses in the years since that dark event. CNN's Jason Carroll reports.


JIM BROSI, SON OF 9/11 FIREFIGHTER LIEUTENANT JOE BROSI: I think we just miss him. He was just always present and everything we did.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jim Brosi says not a day has gone by where he has not thought about his father. BROSI: If you were speaking to him, you were the only person in the world who was talking to him. And he was as good as they come.

CARROLL (voice-over): His father Lieutenant Joe Brosi, a veteran of the New York City Fire Department for more than three decades, died this past February 3, after a long battle with Stage 4 lung cancer. Doctors gave him months to live after his diagnosis in 2015. He gave this moving interview to the FDNY in 2019

LATE JOESEPH BROSI, 9/11 FIREFIGHTER LIEUTENANT: Nothing's impossible. Just hasn't been done yet. You have to believe that you're going to be if you believe it will happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant Joseph Brosi, Engine 88 February 3, 2023.

CARROLL (voice-over): Brosi's name, one of 43 added to the FDNY World Trade Center Memorial Wall last week, which commemorates firefighters, paramedics and civilian support staff who died from post 9/11 illnesses. It's the second largest group added to the memorial since it was created in 2011 when 55 names were added.


The number of lives lost from post 9/11 illnesses on the wall now stands at 341 almost equally the 343 FDNY firefighters killed that day.

BROSI: That number has grown each year and my fear is it will continue to grow.

CARROLL (voice-over): Brosi says his father was at ground 0 on 9/11 and remained working there day in and day out. So too was New York City firefighter Daniel Foley. Foley pledged to stay at the site until his older brother Thomas. Also a City firefighter was found.

Foley ended up finding his brother's body, 11 days later. He continued to help with the recovery efforts for months. He died from pancreatic cancer in 2020, he was 46.

CARRIE FOLEY, WIFE OF 9/11 FIREFIGHTER DANIEL FOLEY: He was diagnosed with 9/11 cancer and we talk about the fact that 9/11 not only killed Uncle Tommy, but 20 years later, killed daddy.

CARROLL (voice-over): The message from firefighters and their families, years after one of the darkest days in U.S. history. First responders are still suffering and dying as a result of their service.

BROSI: The other thing is it's the people who aren't dying but are sick and they're not living but they're alive. And no one measures that loss.

CARROLL (voice-over): A final note, both Brosi and his brother Joe are New York City firefighters who were also there on 9/11 working alongside their father.

CARROLL: Are you concerned about your health and in terms of the future?

BROSI: I will say I monitor my health very closely I will not live my life and worry.


FOSTER: Well CNN's Jason Carroll reporting from New York. Thanks for joining me here on CNN "Newsroom", I'm Max Foster in London. "World Sport" with Amanda Davies is up next.