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CNN International: WH: Three-Year-Old American Among Hamas' Hostages; Biden, XI to Meet on Sidelines of APEC Summit in California; State of Emergency in Iceland due to Quakes, Magma Threat; Researchers Using AI to Drive Innovation in Robotics. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 13, 2023 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: The director of the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City says the facilities in dire -- in a dire state from a lack of electricity with all operating rooms out of service. Hospital staff already have been trying to keep premature babies alive after the incubator's oxygen supply ran out.

Israel's military says it's offered 300 liters of fuel to the complex, but it claims Hamas blocked the hospital from receiving it. This video comes from the Israel Defense Forces. CNN can't independently verify it. But the hospital's director says while Israeli officials did offer fuel. It was only enough to run the generators for 30 minutes and that staff were too scared to go out and get it.

Now the White House says one of the hostages Hamas is holding is a three-year old American toddler whose parents were killed on October the 7th. That news arose from the readout of a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and the Emir of Qatar. CNN's Kevin Liptak has those details.


KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The White House. Is revealing new information about one of the American hostages being held after that Hamas assault on Israel. It's a three-year-old toddler whose parents were killed by Hamas during the attack on October 7th. And we're learning about this American in a readout of a phone call that President Biden held with the Emir of Qatar.

You'll remember that Qatar is playing broker in these talks to try and release some of these hostages and certainly the information that one of those hostages is a three-year-old American, will only increase pressure on the parties to try and come up with some kind of agreement to secure the release of that three-year old. But also the 200 plus other hostages that are being held. And certainly President Biden and other American officials have been in active discussions about some sort of agreement that would include a pause in the fighting to allow those hostages to come out.

President Biden has been pressuring the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on a longer pause that would allow for the release pf more hostages. But certainly the fighting has not decreased at all. It certainly has been ramping up around the largest hospital in Gaza. And we did hear from the American National Advisor, Jake Sullivan, who did say that it is in Hamas's playbook to use hospitals as staging grounds for weapons and for fighters. But he did also issue a message of caution to Israel. Listen to what he said.

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The bottom line for the United States is that we do not want to see firefights in a hospital. We do not want to see innocent patients who are sick or wounded be injured or killed in the crossfire. So that is how we look at this issue and that is how we are communicating with our Israeli counterpart.

LIPTAK: Now Jake Sullivan was asked in that interview with Dana Bash whether Israel was adhering to the rules of war, and he said he didn't want to play judge or jury on that question. So certainly the U.S. still standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel while still issuing these messages of caution. Urging Israel to protect Civilian life.

Now on Monday at the White House, President Biden will meet with the Indonesian president, the leader of the largest Muslim majority nation in the world. Now, President Joko Widodo, is coming to the White House from Saudi Arabia, where he was attending a meeting of other Arab and Muslim leaders. The calls there were for a ceasefire and that is certainly a message and a topic that will arise in the Oval Office on Monday.

Kevin Liptak, CNN, Wilmington, Delaware.


FOSTER: The U.S. has conducted its third round of strikes within the last three weeks against Iran related targets in the Middle East. The U.S. Defense Secretary said, a safe house and a training facility were hit in eastern Syria. The U.S. says Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and their proxies have been targeting American troops in Syria and Iraq. Washington is trying to send a message of deterrent without escalating the situation. There have been at least 46 attempted attacks on U.S. forces in the region since October the 17th. And during those attacks, at least 56 troops have been wounded, most of them suffering minor traumatic brain injuries.

Top defense officials from the U.S., Japan and South Korea have agreed on a plan for real time data sharing on North Korean missile launches starting next month. The agreement came during annual security talks in Seoul over the weekend, which Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin has been attending. The talks have largely focused on ways the three countries can counter threats from North Korea.


Including a strategy in which the U.S. will use its military and nuclear assets to deter Pyongyang and defend allies.

For the first time in more than six years, Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon be back in the United States. He's expected to meet with President Joe Biden this week on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in San Francisco. It will be the first meeting between the two since last year's G20 summit in Bali. The two leaders are looking to stabilize relations in the midst of growing geopolitical conflicts.

Our Marc Stewart joins us from Beijing with a bit more on this. Is this a meeting then, Marc, that will change the U.S. China relationship? That's the question everyone's asking.

MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that is the logical question, Max. I think what we're going to see out of this is some symbolism and some substance. If we look at the differences in opinion toward big issues between the United States and China, whether it be Taiwan, whether it be human rights, the war in Ukraine, Israel and Hamas, there are some very profound differences in the way these two nations look at these issues, and that probably will not change.

But the goal of this meeting is to at least begin conversation, and if anything avoid any kind of future surprises. This will be a chance for China to let the U.S. know exactly where it stands on Taiwan and just how much pushing by the U.S. may be too far. China also expected to perhaps raise concerns about some of the aerial surveillance that we have seen by the U.S. over the Taiwan Straits, over the South China Sea.

It's also though, a chance to agree on some things, especially when it comes to economics. If we look at the relationship between the United States and China, despite some of these political differences, it's a very strong economic relationship. The United States benefits from buying cheap products from China. China also buys products from the U.S. It creates a lot of import/export trade, which really is beneficial for both nations. And that's why we hear officials such as Janet Yellen talking about the need to de-risk and not necessarily decouple this relationship.

Max, it is worth stressing though the fact that this meeting is even happening is a very big deal. It was earlier this year that we saw the United States shoot down a Chinese balloon over American airspace, and that added even more chill, Max, to an already frosty relationship.

FOSTER: Yes, and what reaction are you seeing in the China -- in China to all of this?

STEWART: Well, a good indicator or a good barometer for us is what state media reports. We saw there was an editorial that ran over the weekend talking about the need for sincerity by the United States in these talks. And that nothing can be taken for granted and that a lot of leg work needs to take place in all of this. But overall, Max, I would say it's encouraging.

For Xi Jinping, this is a way for him, one, to show strength in China, especially at a time when China is dealing with so many domestic issues, whether they be economic or changes in leadership, it's also a way for him to look very strong in the world stage, especially as China tries to portray itself as an alternative, a different world order, a new world order almost to what we see in the West and the United States, as far as their approach to politics and diplomacy.

FOSTER: OK, Marc Stewart in Beijing. Appreciate your time, thank you.

Still to come, officials in Iceland have prepared or declared a state of emergency. And ask residents of one town to evacuate amid a wave of earthquakes and the threat of possible volcanic eruptions.

Plus, we'll talk to the head of Iceland's Civil Protection and Emergency Management about where things stand right now. Stay with us.



FOSTER: Iceland is under a state of emergency due to the threat of volcanic eruptions. This comes amid an intense wave of earthquakes in a region well known for seismic activity. Officials are saying there's a significant likelihood of an eruption near the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Our CNN's Michael Holmes reports.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (through translator): Alarming signs in Iceland, where waves of tremors are shaking and splintering parts of the country. And experts say the seismic activity there is likely to get worse.

Thousands of earthquakes have struck Iceland southwestern peninsula in the last few days. Geologists say it's related to an underground corridor of magma that's shifting and could soon lead to a volcanic eruption. In the town of Grindavik, some 50 kilometers away from the capital of Reykjavik, the ground has already split open in places because of the volatility under the Earth's crust.

More than 3,000 residents were evacuated Saturday, with a few allowed back Sunday to retrieve pets and essential items from their home. Experts say the magma corridor, which stretches about 15 kilometers near Grindavik, could cause an eruption and possibly destroy much of town.

VIDIR REYNISSON, ICELAND'S CHIEF PROTECTION AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: The magma is now on a shallow, very shallow depth, so we're expecting an eruption within a couple of hours. The shortest but at least within a couple of days. Anywhere on that fissure, we can see that in eruption could happen.

HOLMES (voice-over): Iceland has declared a state of emergency and as a precaution, closed the blue lagoon. A popular geothermal spa located near Grindavik.

The area near Grindavik is prone to volcanic activity, with three eruptions in the past 2 1/2 years. In 2021, a fissure measuring as big as 750 meters long spewed fountains of lava into the sky, attracting tourists to the unpopulated hot spot. This time around, with an entire town potentially at risk, officials warned this eruption could have far more dangerous consequences.

Michael Holmes, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, joining me now is Vidir Reynisson. He is the Superintendent for Iceland's Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management and he joins us from Reykjavik. Thank you so much. I know you're incredibly busy. But there's so much speculation, misinformation out there about exactly what's happening here. So I wonder if you could help us through some of the -- some of the facts, if you like. First of all, exactly where you think this eruption could occur -- if it does occur?

VIDIR REYNISSON, SUPERINTENDENT, ICELAND DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL PROTECTION AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Well, the most likeliest area is near the town of Grindavik, halfway maybe between Grindavik and the Blue Lagoon. And the most likely scenario is a rather big eruption with volcanic lava, not an explosive eruption with as cloud as we -- as we knew in 2010. That's not very likely scenario.


So the most of the plans are looking into protecting the people living in the area and we have evacuated almost 4,000 people. So there is no one in immediate danger at the moment.

FOSTER: Because there was the very famous obvious eruption in 2010, wasn't it? And we had that ash cloud. Just explain how that's not likely to happen this time.

REYNISSON: Yes, in 2010, we had a volcanic eruption ongoing in the glaciers, so it was a mix of water, ice and volcanic lava. Which caused explosive ash cloud as we saw. This time there is nothing like that. There is no glacier near this eruption site, so everything is in much other risks. And most of the risk is from the floating lava to a lot of very critical infrastructure. The first one is, of course, the town of Grindavik and the home of almost 4,000 people.

And then the secondly, it is power plants for which produce a lot of electricity and the almost all hot water for the southern part -- so southwestern part. So it's a it's a big critical infrastructure also.

FOSTER: Are you literally just waiting for the magma to appear then, to know where it's going to come out? Because potentially it could come out under the sea, which I presume you're hoping for.

REYNISSON: Well, it's difficult to use or hope for a location of a volcano. It's everything is a bad situation from now on. Scientists have told us that the magma is very swallow, couple of 100 meters maybe below the surface. So now we're, yes, we're in this waiting period to see what happens.

FOSTER: Have they predicted when it might erupt?

REYNISSON: We've been waiting for the last maybe 24 hours, 36 hours for it, and the educated guess would be hours, maximum days.

FOSTER: And how long is it likely to last? REYNISSON: That's also very difficult to predict. We have seen rupture

in this area lasting us as long as six months, but the two last was in 35 or 45 days. But the first one in in this period in 2021 was almost six months.

FOSTER: And in terms of the impact -- there's obviously the magma itself -- but is there any concern about gases being released or anything that might go into the atmosphere at all?

REYNISSON: Yes, in this area the when the lava is coming out there is a lot of gas that comes with it. So that's one of the risks we are looking at. And that is in in a similar volume as the lava itself. So we have the experience from '21 and '22 and '3 that that some gases are coming with the lava. So that's one of the risks that we are trying to protect how it will be. And at this time of year, maybe it will be easier to deal with it because of this time of year in Iceland we have higher wind. So the likelihood of the gas kind of gathering in places is less than during the summer.

FOSTER: OK, Vidir Reynisson, I really appreciate your time today and we wish you best for the next few days. Thank you. We'll be right back.



FOSTER: As artificial intelligence emerges as a new technology, university researchers around the world are using it to drive innovation in robotics. In Abu Dhabi, a team of researchers is using AI for search and rescue robots in the desert. It's part of our series, called "BOLD PURSUITS." Will Ripley meets scientists pursuing breakthroughs in robotics technology and discoveries that could help in our lives.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is very early. We are in the desert and it's already 36 or 37 outside.

RIPLEY (voice-over): In this desert outside Abu Dhabi, I find a group of researchers working with robots that mimic what certain species do in nature.

RIPLEY: Enrico, good morning, Sir.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Taking a cue from the way a colony of ants work together to perform tasks, they're building a swarm of drones and robots that collaborate and work together.

ENRICO NATALIZIO, AUTONOMOUS ROBOTICS CENTER. TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION INSTITUTE: Basically, they work autonomously in the sense that they can do operations by the. themselves. We mimic the natural system that exists in nature.

These are social insects, for example, they have a very limited intelligence by themselves, but they can do great operations together. And what we do, what we mimic is the way they communicate, the way they coordinate the exchange of information they have and let them self-organize and perform the best they can.

RIPLEY: So breakdown some of the scenarios that you imagine these being most effective.

NATALIZIO: Disaster is one of them. We have logistics, transportation, inspection, monitoring, any kind of activity where we need ice and we need to perform some activity on the -- on the spot.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Back in the labs at the Technology Innovation Institute, they fit the drones and robots with sensors, cameras and communication devices. With all this tech out in the field, the scientists carry out research by giving these machines tasks and challenges.

NATALIZIO: Robots by themselves, without being able to do operation by themselves, will not mean much. The idea of giving them all the autonomy to understand the scene and apply their intelligence in order to solve some specific tasks. That's a step ahead. All this innovation, the idea is that they are actually feasible, in maybe 5-10 years to have it mass produced and used.

RIPLEY: Can these do it better and more efficiently than humans?

NATALIZIO: It's something that robots can do much more efficiently, cost effectively and fast.

RIPLEY: They don't complain about the brutal heat.



RIPLEY: Which with the changing climate, that's going to be more and more crucial looking.

NATALIZIO: Yes, and more difficult.


FOSTER: More than 180,000 people marched against anti-Semitism across France this weekend. Sunday's demonstration in Paris is reportedly the largest such protests since the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in France more than 30 years ago. 105,000 people filled the streets of the capital city. The demonstrations come amid a spike in anti-Semitic incidents.

And French President Emmanuel Macron posted on social media: France, where our Jewish fellow citizens are afraid is not France.

Now in Spain, thousands protested on Sunday against plans to offer amnesty to Catalan separatists who tried to break away from the country. The government made an agreement on Thursday with the Catalan Separatist Party. It called for a passage of a controversial law granting amnesty to those convicted over the Catalonia region's 2017 attempt to secede from Spain.

The plan has sparked several large demonstrations in recent weeks. Protesters say acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is using the deal to win enough support for another term in office.

And before we go, a seaside town near Rome can breathe a lot easier now that a circus lion is no longer on the prowl. You can see the big cat walking through the streets on Saturday. Police are investigating after an employee reportedly found a broken lock and saw three people running from the lion's cage. The mayor announced on Facebook the lion had been recaptured and returned to the circus after it was on the loose for five hours. He says he hopes the episode can help put an end to the exploitation of animals in circuses.

Thanks for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. "EARLY START" with Kasie is next.