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Hamas Replies To Proposal Aimed At Release Of Hostages; Israel Claims Half Of Hamas's Fighters Killed Or Wounded; Bipartisan Immigration And Foreign Aid Deal Poised To Fail Key Senate Vote Amid Growing Republican Opposition; Volodymyr Zelenskyy Announces Plans For Drone-Focused Military Research; Former Chilean President Sebastian Pinera Dies In Helicopter Crash; How Global Warming Is Affecting The Food We Eat; Pakistan on Edge as It Gears Up for General Election, Former Pm Imran Khan is in Prison and Barred From Contesting; Britain's King Charles III Undergoing Treatment for Undisclosed Form of Cancer; Taylor Swift Continues Record-breaking Tour in Tokyo. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world and to everyone streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, Israel and Hamas appear to inch closer to a hostage deal that would pause fighting in Gaza in exchange for the release of more hostages but significant hurdles remain.

From California to Chile, extreme weather has been hammering parts of North and South America this week. And despite the distance, experts say it's the climate crisis that's fuel both disasters.

And the first public sighting of Britain's King Charles since his cancer diagnosis and a visit from his youngest son, Prince Harry.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: It is 9:00 in the morning in Tel Aviv where U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to press for humanitarian pause in Gaza when he meets top Israeli officials in the hours ahead. The stakes of those talks could not be higher after Hamas issued its response to a proposal meant to secure the release of the remaining hostages, calling for a, "complete ceasefire." Israel is Blinken's fourth stop on his latest world win trip to the Middle East.

On Tuesday, he was in Qatar where he discussed the humanitarian pause with officials as well as the ongoing efforts to free the hostages. Qatar has served as a key mediator in negotiations with Hamas, and describes the group's reply to the proposal as a positive development.


MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN BIN AL THANI, QATARI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We have received a reply from Hamas with regards to the general framework of the agreement with regards to the hostages. The reply includes some comments, but in general, it is positive.


CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden offered his own assessment of Hamas's counter proposal saying this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's been a response from the opposition -- yes, I'm sorry, from Hamas. But it seems to be a little over the top.


CHURCH: Journalist Elliott Gotkine is following developments live from London, he joins us now. Good morning to you, Elliot.

So, what more are you learning about the proposal to secure the release of the remaining hostages and Hamas's response? And what comes next?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, you'll recall last week there was this kind of framework for a hostage deal, which outlined the broad parameters that could go into such a deal.

Now, we've heard as we've just been saying the response from Hamas, this was transmitted to the Qatari and Egyptian mediators. The response, according to the Qatari Prime Minister was said that Hamas's proposal was positive.

Now, here at CNN, we're hearing from a source familiar with the negotiations, saying that the proposal by Hamas was, in their words, reasonable. And not only that, but crucially, this very public and widely reported demand from Hamas, that Israel, not only ceasefire completely put an end to the war, but also withdraw its troops from the Gaza Strip. Those two elements are not in this Hamas proposal, which could make it more palatable to the Israelis.

Where we are right now is that the United States and Israel is probably -- is properly reviewing the proposal by Hamas, and will now be expecting some kind of counteroffer from the Israelis.

Now, we know what the Israelis red lines are. We've heard from Prime Minister Netanyahu saying that there won't be a deal at any cost and that Israel won't be releasing thousands of terrorists.

But perhaps if Hamas has climbed down with its proposal from what seemed to be its red lines for a complete ceasefire and an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, then Israel might be inclined to meet it halfway.

But as I say, very early days, still, but certainly some weary optimism that we could finally be inching towards a deal, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And Elliott, what impact could a potential pause in fighting have on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza?

GOTKINE: Rosemary, for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, we've got about half the population now more than a million people in Rafah whose population has ballooned something like fourfold since the start of this conflict, a ceasefire can't come soon enough.

You know, right now, conditions are really desperate in term not just the weather and the cold but in terms of the shelter they have, the access to food, exorbitant prices for goods where they can be accessed.


And of course, the everyday concern that, you know, with the war ongoing and it's seemingly getting closer to Rafah and Israel's defense minister said the other day that Israel is now setting its sights on Rafah, the last remaining Hamas stronghold. There are concerns and we can see pictures of what Rafah was and what it's become in terms of a tent city.

Now, there are concerns among those people that they could, you know, find themselves being added to those growing death toll statistics, if and when that war does come to Rafah for real.

So, certainly, it can't come soon enough. And they will be hoping that if and when a ceasefire can come into effect, even if it is just a humanitarian pause, six weeks is the length of time that we've been discussing, then that would enable them to go about their lives a little bit more easily to get access to more humanitarian aid, which would be expected to go into the enclave, or perhaps that assess the damage to their homes, perhaps bury their loved ones.

So, certainly, I don't think it can come soon enough. And the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will be hoping that some kind of humanitarian pause or ceasefire can come into effect.

And of course, in Israel, they will be hoping very much so that those hostages who had been in captivity for more than 120 days now will be released now as part of a deal that they hope can be done very soon, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Elliott Gotkine joining us live from London, many thanks.

Well, the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian journalists in Gaza are both reporting heavy fire and raids across multiple parts of Gaza over the last two days. The IDF says its operations in and around Khan Yunis in the south are continuing, where it says more militants in civilian clothing were killed Tuesday after preparing to attack Israeli forces.

Meantime, the Hamas run health ministry in Gaza is accusing the Israeli military of tightening the siege of a medical complex near Khan Yunis, where thousands of displaced civilians are staying. CNN has asked the Israel Defense Forces for comment on its operations around the hospital.

In northern Gaza, we are now getting a look at the scale of destruction left by months of war. This drone video from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency shows dozens of buildings razed to the ground.

CNN military analyst and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton joins me now from Washington. Always an honor to have you with us, Colonel.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's my pleasure to be with you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, where do you think most Hamas leaders would be hiding right now, whether they're inside Gaza or overseas and how does the IDF hunt them down?

LEIGHTON: Yes, that's a really great question, Rosemary. So, the betting right now, at least in IDF circles is that the leadership of Hamas, especially the top three, are still in Gaza.

Now, there is always a chance that that may be wrong, and that they may have gaped somewhere. They may have interspersed themselves within the refugee population, which is quite numerous, as we know in Gaza, and they could have potentially escaped but I think right now the betting is still correct, that they're in Gaza, probably in one of those tunnels and more specifically, in the tunnels around the Khan Yunis.

CHURCH: And Israel's defense minister, as you mentioned, it claims that some Hamas leaders including Yahya Sinwar, are on the run going from hideout to hideout, unable to communicate with the rest of Hamas. How likely is it that that is indeed the scenario? And that's what's happening right now?

LEIGHTON: Well, it's interesting to hear what the Israeli Defense Minister said. And I would have given a lot of credence to that except that right now, we understand that Yahya Sinwar and the Hamas leadership have actually responded to the proposal for a ceasefire.

So, there is at least some degree of communication between that portion of Hamas that's in Gaza, at least with what we think is in Gaza, and the Hamas leadership that's outside of the country, particularly in Qatar.

CHURCH: Yes, important point, indeed. And Israel's leaders claim that they have killed or seriously wounded about half of the Hamas fighters and now we have no way of confirming that. But Israel's mission was to wipe out Hamas leaders, how much progress has actually been made with that ambitious goal, and how achievable is it to destroy Hamas?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think it's really hard to totally destroy Hamas. All types of ideologies and movements of this type are very difficult to eradicate completely but what one can do is one can neutralize them or at least make them a bit less potent than they were when say in this particular case, they attacked Israel on October the seventh.


So, there are certainly things that to the Israelis have done which have limited Hamas's effectiveness. But Hamas is certainly not dead by any stretch of the imagination.

And as far as the leadership is concerned, Rosemary, it's hard to say exactly how many they've killed. There are reports that it's, you know, as you mentioned, quite considerable, but the top three still seem to be eluding capture or eluding death at this particular point.

CHURCH: And Colonel, how surprised are you that four months into this war, Israel has destroyed large portions of Gaza, and killed tens of thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, but hasn't made much progress in achieving Benjamin Netanyahu's goal of wiping out Hamas, the end game?

LEIGHTON: Yes, I'm not very surprised at all, because this is one of the most difficult missions, especially in an urban environment like Gaza. As Gaza being such a crowded place, one of the most densely populated areas on Earth.

And because of that, it's I think very difficult for the leadership to be eradicated, it's very difficult for Israel to make the kind of progress that it wants to make against Hamas, they have certainly made a dent in their efficacy as a fighting force. But at the moment, Hamas is not dead. And it is certainly still a fairly potent force and could arise again at some point in the future.

But the Israelis have clearly made it a point to, you know, decimate, interdict, do all of the things that they can in an urban combat type situation. And they have done a lot to go into the tunnels, for example, they've done a lot of reconnaissance, they're destroyed a lot of those tunnels, both on the ground and from the air. And that's the kind of progress that the Israelis I think can make and continue to make, but they're going to be under a lot of pressure internationally, to basically take the foot off the gas and have some sight -- reach some kind of settlement in this particular case.

CHURCH: Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate your perspective on this.

LEIGHTON: Thank you so much, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Iran backed Houthi rebels are vowing to increase their attacks on nearby American and British ships if the war in Gaza does not stop. U.S. Central Command says the militants fired six anti-ship ballistic missiles from Houthi controlled areas of Yemen toward the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Most of the missiles had zero effect on shipping, but one cause minor damage to a Greek owned carrier. The Houthis say they are targeting commercial vessels allegedly linked to Israel as an act of solidarity with the Palestinians.

In Washington, the Republican controlled House failed to pass a number of bills due in part to chaos within party ranks.

First, Republicans failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after weeks of hyping the issue. Republicans were ultimately undone by a spate of absences in their party.

Then, there was a standalone funding bill that would have provided nearly $18 billion in aid to Israel. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle oppose the measure, which needed two thirds majority to pass.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan deal on immigration and foreign aid is on track to fail, a key vote in the U.S. Senate in the coming hours. Amid Republican infighting and Donald Trump's desire to kill the bill, a majority of Senate Republicans say they're likely to vote no or leaning against the bill worth $118 billion. That's including aid to both Ukraine and Israel.

U.S. President Joe Biden had this warning for Republicans.


BIDEN: We can't walk away now. That's what Putin is betting on. Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin. Opposing this bill is playing into his hands.

History is watching. History is watching. A failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten.


CHURCH: Even though U.S. lawmakers seem unable to agree on aid for Ukraine, the European Union is reassuring Kyiv of its support as the war drags on into its third year.

E.U. foreign policy chief Joseph Burrell paid Ukraine's capital a surprise visit to discuss both military and financial aid with officials there, as well as Ukraine's progress and making reforms in order to join the European Union.

Last week, the E.U. approved $54 billion of new aid for Ukraine.


Meantime, Ukraine's president says he plans to create a new military branch called the Unmanned Systems Forces, focusing exclusively on drones.

Ukraine's military has been using drones to strike Russian targets in recent weeks, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy says drones are invaluable in combat, "In the sky and at sea."


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This year should be decisive in many aspects and obviously on the battlefield. Drones unmanned systems have proven their effectiveness in battles on the ground, in the sky and at sea. Ukraine has really changed the security system in the Black Sea, thanks to drones. Repulsing the assault on the ground is largely the work of drones. The large scale destruction of the occupiers and their equipment is also the work of drones. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: The announcement comes ahead of a widely expected reshuffle of Zelenskyy's government and military leadership of Ukraine and an ongoing rift with his army chief.

Still to come, Chile announces three days of mourning after it's former president dies in a helicopter crash. How the country is remembering him, that's just ahead.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

U.S. investigators believe that when Alaska Air flight 1282 took off from Portland last month, it was missing four bolts to secure the door plug. The National Transportation Safety Board has just released their preliminary findings and as we know, that plug, blew out midflight leaving a gaping hole in the fuselage.

This is a photo of that Boeing 737 Max 9 door plug more than a month before the plane was delivered to Alaska Air. The NTSB says it shows the bolts were missing during work on the aircraft. The final report could be more than a year away.

Chile is mourning the loss of former President Sebastian Pinera who was killed in a helicopter crash on Tuesday, he was 74.

A state funeral will be held for the late leader and three days of national mourning have been declared. A statement from his office as others survived the crash, though it's not clear yet what caused the accident.

People left flowers outside Pinera's house following news of his death.

CNN's Patrick Altman has details on the accident and the legacy Pinera leaves behind.


PATRICK ALTMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sebastian Pinera had served two terms as president of Chile. He was a billionaire and a conservative, one of the most conservative presidents that Chile has had since transitioning from the dictatorship, the right-wing dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

According to the Chilean government, Pinera died on Tuesday while traveling in a helicopter in the southern part of the country. There were three other people aboard the helicopter with him when it crashed. They are -- survived and are listed as being out of danger. It's not known what caused the helicopter to crash, although, there was a rainy weather at the time of the crash. It was reported in Chilean State media.

[02:20:25] Chilean Navy was able to secure Pinera's body, he will be remembered as Chilean's president during the time in 2010 when 33 miners were rescued safely after being trapped in a mine collapse. Pinera was on the site of the rescue for hours as each miner was pulled from the mine. He would come and shake their hands and greet them. He monitored minute by minute the progress of that successful rescue operation that was followed by people throughout the world.

He will also be remembered during his second term, a flooding heavy handed response to widespread protests in the streets by students that received a lot of criticism because so many people were injured or killed as a result of the government clashing with those students.

Afterwards, he admitted that perhaps the reaction to those protests had been too strong. Pinera according to the current president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, will be remembered, it will be mourned across the country and will be given a state funeral.

His death comes as Chile is already recovering from widespread wildfires, the worst wildfires in that country's history that have killed over 100 people.

Patrick Altman, CNN, Havana.


CHURCH: The U.N. disaster agency says those fires are -- fires are believed to be the deadliest in Chilean history with the death toll now rising to 131. Autopsies are still underway to identify many of the victims and at least 3,000 homes have been destroyed in the Valparaiso region.

The flames have been fueled by climate change and the natural phenomenon of El Nino, which has a global heating effect. Those same heat sources have contributed to the powerful storm that's been pounding California, what's known as an atmospheric river has unleashed torrential rain, flash floods, landslides, and mudslides.

And while the impacts of the climate crisis are especially visible when natural disasters strike, global warming is also fueling slow but relentless shifts in our everyday lives, affecting everything from the vacation spots that we enjoy, to the food we put on the table.

And I want to bring in celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern from Minnesota. He is a goodwill ambassador with the United Nations World Food Program and a social activist, good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, how is climate change jeopardizing some foods right now and which ones are at risk of disappearing altogether as a result of extreme weather conditions?

ZIMMERN: Well, it's jeopardizing all of them. And I would -- I would just make a friendly amendment to your last sentence. It's not extreme weather conditions, although that does have a much more increasingly alarming effect.

But it's the subtle rising in the temperatures in the evening in France and all over Europe that are jeopardizing traditional Appalachians for grape growing.

I think this year, the region of champagne brought in more grapes than it has ever before to actually make their famous bubbly, that doesn't come from the soil of champagne itself.

And while some may see that as a slightly elitist thing, the same thing is happening with grapes all over the world. It's happening with tomatoes, it's happening with avocados that require more water as well as almonds, salmon are stressed because of rising ocean temperatures. Cacao from which we get chocolate, which grows plus 10 degrees on either side of the equator, is being harmed by wind and storms and a part of the planet that has seen very little change in weather fluctuation during Earth's history.

We're in really, really bad shape when it comes to our food system. We saw what happened during the pandemic, we saw what happened to wheat prices during the initial months of the invasion of Ukraine. And food people don't realize it's not just like we go to the supermarket for, it's an international economic incentive program. It's a national security issue. It affects trade. It's about jobs, it's about immigration, it affects our health care based on what we eat and how much costs we have to pump in in this country, a trillion and a half dollars for all of the processed food related diseases.


So, any fluctuation in this very, very carefully spun ecosystem jeopardizes all of us. And before we see a food eliminated, we're going to see increasingly a rising prices way before that -- before a food becomes eliminated.

CHURCH: So, how do we save those foods most at risk? What action needs to be taken right now?

ZIMMERN: Well, you know, I remember 15 years ago, everybody said, wow, we have until 2050, 2060 to avoid this two degree rise in our core temperatures within our atmosphere, and especially as related to our ocean temperatures. You mentioned El Nino before in the last segment.

Well, yes, El Nino creates a lot of problems with our weather system, and that's based a lot on ocean temperatures.

But now, that two degree mark is according to some scientists, either here already or so close that we may not able to slow it down and even the most optimistic ones are putting in about seven to eight years out.

So, we really need to have a very realistic look in the mirror and take some -- and make some very hard choices about fossil fuels, about carbon sequestration, about investing in aquaculture, in how we transport our foods, and most importantly about how we grow it and where, transferring to more cover crops, issuing no take zones, uncertain efficiency, there's an entire ecosystem of decisions.

It's not just one single move, that's going to save our food system when it comes to the climate crisis. It's an interconnected series of decisions.

I'm very disappointed to see year after year international bodies gather together and kick the can down the road as if -- as if this is something that we can avoid.

The climate crisis is very real. And you know, as many people in this country as we get ready for elections are surprised that we have such a robust economy here in the United States. And yet, consumers are disillusioned. One of the biggest things they're disillusioned at is the continuing -- continuous rising of food prices. That's just a reflection about where our climate crisis is having its greatest impacts.

CHURCH: Oh, very sobering. Andrew Zimmern, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

ZIMMERN: Thank you.

CHURCH: And we'll be right back.



CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Pakistan is on edge as it gears up for a crucial general election this week. The country's former prime minister and widely popular leader Imran Khan is in prison and barred from taking part, leaving voters with difficult choices as the country faces mounting challenges from economic uncertainty to frequent terror attacks. CNN's Anna Coren reports.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The ultima (ph) of an explosion in southern Pakistan, just one of a string of attacks targeting political candidates across the country. So as the nation of more than 230 million people prepares to go to the polls, there's an air of unease. Pakistan's widely popular Former Prime Minister Imran Khan is behind bars, charged with corruption and revealing state secrets, and is banned from running in the election.

He denies any wrongdoing. After Khan was arrested by paramilitary police in May last year, his supporters took to the streets, some of them armed. What followed was an extensive crackdown by what many say was led by the country's powerful military, a claim it denied. Protesters were detained, journalists censored.

Among those jailed, social media activist, Sanam Javed, a supporter of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or PTI party. The 36-year-old mother of two is facing terrorism charges, accused of inciting her thousands of followers to commit arson on the day Khan was arrested. She denies the charges. Her father says her incarceration is an example of authorities silencing dissenting voices.

IQBAL JAVED, FATHER OF SANAM JAVED (through translator): I know that all of this is fake and created, and being done to victimize the political party of Imran Khan. This is a political case.

COREN (voice-over): Pakistan's information minister denied those claims, saying law enforcers in prosecutors have evidence against Javed. With the fall of Imran Khan has come the return and rise in popularity of his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif. Sharif is back in Pakistan after corruption charges led to years of self-imposed exile. He's now widely expected to win a historic fourth term.

TIM WILLASEY-WILSEY, POLITICAL ANALYST: The good prognosis is that Sharif is elected, he builds a coalition which includes Bilawal Bhutto, and starts to run the country pragmatically. He's a pragmatist and starts to balance relations between U.S. and China, get the economy back on track

COREN (voice-over): Standing between Sharif and the top job is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The 35-year-old is descended from one of Pakistan's political dynasties, yet even with Zardari's useful appeal, many young voters have been left disillusioned by Pakistan's recent political disorder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole country knows that the decision has already been made.

RABIYA AROOJ, LAHORE RESIDENT: I don't think stability will come because I think after the elections, a lot of problems will be created.

HASSAN, LAHORE RESIDENT: Yes, the voter feel disenfranchised because even if a certain government comes into play, all governments have, we feel, disappointed us at most levels.

COREN (voice-over): Pakistan faces mounting challenges from economic issues to climate catastrophes and militant attacks. Just last month, Pakistan and Iran carried out strikes against alleged militant targets in each other's territory, citing the threat of terrorist attacks. For Pakistan and its people, unified government after years of uncertainty will be a must to avoid tension spilling beyond the country's borders.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


CHURCH: Britain's King Charles III and Queen Camilla are spending time at his Sandringham country estate, north of London. The 75 year-old monarch was seen in public on Tuesday for the first time since Buckingham Palace announced he was diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer. His son, Prince Harry arrived in London Tuesday from California where he was seen at the king's private residence, Clarence House. More now from CNN's Royal Correspondent Max Foster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the first glimpse of King Charles since his cancer diagnosis was made public, as he appeared well enough to leave London for his countryside estate.


FOSTER (voice-over): Buckingham Palace revealing on Monday that the 75-year-old monarch is postponing his public-facing duties whilst he undergoes treatment. But the palace says he will carry on with state business and official paperwork. CNN understands the king's weekly audience with the British prime minister, for example, will continue. But if the illness worsens, royal commentators say, appointed Counselors of State can be called upon to step in, most likely Queen Camilla and Prince William.

EMILY NASH, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: These are members of the royal family who can deputize for him in constitutional affairs if he's incapacitated in any way or even if he's overseas on other duties. And it's been made very clear to us so far that there's no plan to bring any of these people into play.

FOSTER (voice-over): The number of working royals has dwindled in recent years. Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, stepped back from royal duties in 2020, whilst Prince Andrew was forced out amid controversy over his relationship with a convicted pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein. But already, the royal family is putting its very public differences aside.

Prince Harry arriving back in Britain from his home in the U.S., believed to be the first time he's seeing his father since the coronation in May. A royal source telling CNN there are currently no plans for Prince Harry to meet with his brother, Prince William, the two are still estranged. But as with any family, the illness of a loved one may encourage courage the royals to put their differences aside.

Max Foster, CNN, Buckingham Palace, London.


CHURCH: Still to come, Taylor swift is in Japan for the latest leg of her global tour. We are live in Tokyo with the reaction from across the city.


CHURCH: Taylor swift is about to take over Tokyo. The singer is in Japan for the latest stop of her record-breaking Eras Tour. It reportedly brought in more than $1 billion last year, making it the first concert tour in history to cross that mark. And CNN's Hanako Montgomery is in Tokyo, waiting near the concert venue. So Hanako, Taylor Swift mania sweeping Tokyo right now, with sold out concerts. What is the same there today?

HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I wish you could be here because there's just so much jubilation and excitement around me. We've been here since 2 p.m. local time, four hours before her concert starts, and we've seen thousands of people headed towards Tokyo Dome to see their favorite popstar sing and dance on that stage. There's just so much excitement. We have seen so many people in different colorful outfits, each representing a different era in Taylor Swift's discography.


MONTGOMERY: People have been exchanging friendship bracelets. I've gotten a few of them from other Swifties myself. They've been singing and dancing and chanting, I also joined in. I know we have to remember, Taylor Swift is famous in the United States, but her fame transcends international borders. All of her tickets have sold out according to event organizers within the first 30 minutes that they went on sale.

She's also playing a sold-out concert for four nights in a row, which is a first for any foreign female artist in Tokyo Dome. That is just how in demand Taylor Swift is. And we have to remember, the last time Swift was performing in Tokyo was back in 2018, nearly six years ago, for her Reputation Tour. So, fans are Swift deprived. They're excited to see her. We actually spoke to a super fan just earlier, who is taking her fandom to the next level.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm taking a two-year break for going to her concert, yeah. So, I quit my job when she announced this Eras Tour.

MONTGOMERY: You quit your job when she announced The Eras Tour?



MONTGOMERY: Can I ask why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because last time, I went to six shows on the Reputation Tour and -- but, yeah, it wasn't enough.


MONTGOMERY: Again, so just so much excitement for Taylor Swift, fans are just very, very happy to see this woman who has made the soundtrack to their lives.


CHURCH: That was a very, very serious fan just there you spoke to. And look, the other big question that everyone is asking is whether Taylor will make it back to the Super Bowl on Sunday to watch her boyfriend. What do we know about that?

MONTGOMERY: The billion-dollar question for our billionaire. So according to my calculations, to CNN's and to many, many fans, Taylor Swift is going to make it back in time for that Super Bowl kiss. Even the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C., reassured fans that they were going to see that kiss on Sunday. So just very quickly, the mathematics about this. If we assume that Taylor Swift is taking her private jet, which we assume she will be, that direct flight from Tokyo to Vegas is 12 hours. Now, there's also a time difference here that works in Taylor Swift's favor. Tokyo is 17 hours ahead of Vegas. So by the time that she lands in the United States, it will still be Saturday evening, nearly a whole day before that Super Bowl.

So, you know, I'm no betting woman, but I'm going to say with pretty much 100 percent certainty that she is going to be there for that Super Bowl, for that kiss, because let's be real, why else are Swifties watching the Super Bowl. Am I right?

CHURCH: Yep. She's going to do some time travel there. It's on her side, right? Hanako Montgomery, thank you so much joining us live from Tokyo.

And thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. "World Sport" is coming up next. Then, I will be back in 15 minutes with more "CNN Newsroom." Do stick around.