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International Pressure Mounts an end to the Israel-Hamas Conflict as it Now Reviews the Proposed Ceasefire and Hostage Deal Between Both Sides; 130 People Died and More Than 3,000 Homes Burned in Chile's Devastating Wildfires; Prince Harry visits his Father King Charles Following his Cancer Diagnosis Announcement; An Activist Working to Put a Stop on Female Genital Mutilation in Sierra Leone; Taylor Swift's Eras Tour Continues in Asia, in a Jam Packed Tokyo Dome. Aired 3-3:45a ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 03:00   ET




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

Just ahead. Pushing for a pause, Israel and Hamas are reviewing the details of a proposed ceasefire and hostage deal as international pressure mounts to end the conflict in Gaza.

Plus, Chile's raging wildfires, the death toll and destruction continue to climb in what the country's president calls their biggest tragedy since 2010. I'll speak with an expert about the role of climate extremes in this disaster.

And congressional chaos? A major loss for Republicans as the U.S. House votes no on two critical motions.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from Atlanta, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us. And we begin this hour in Israel where America's top diplomat will soon kick off a day of high-stakes talks with top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to press for a humanitarian pause in Gaza, but also discuss Hamas' response to a proposal meant to secure the release of the remaining hostages. Israel is Blinken's fourth stop on his latest trip to the Middle East.

On Tuesday, he was in Qatar, where he discussed a 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, quote, "positive development." Journalist Elliott Gotkine is following developments live from London.

He joined us now. Good morning to you, Elliot. So what more are you learning about the proposal to secure the release of these remaining hostages and of course Hamas's response?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, you'll recall last week that we had this framework for a hostage deal that was discussed and agreed upon in Paris. This was with the United States, with the Egyptians, the Qataris and the Israelis.

And this was setting out the broad parameters of what a hostage deal would look like now as of yesterday, the Hamas response or proposal for an actual deal was transmitted to the Qataris and the Egyptians.

Now, President Biden's initial response was this seems like a little over the top, but we understand from someone familiar with the negotiations that Hamas's proposal is in their words reasonable and crucially, it does not include a demand for Israel to completely end the war in the Gaza Strip and to withdraw its troops from the Gaza Strip, something which Hamas had been saying very publicly and which was very widely reported. So that could make it much easier for the Israelis to swallow when they go back with their own counter proposal.

For now, the United States and Israel is -- they are analyzing Hamas' proposal and some kind of response is expected in due course. We know where the Israelis have publicly said their red lines are. Prime Minister Netanyahu saying that Israel won't release thousands of terrorists and it won't deviate from its war objective of destroying Hamas.

But perhaps if Hamas has climbed down from its maximalist demand for Israel to withdraw troops from the Gaza Strip and end the fighting completely, perhaps Israel may now be leaned upon by Secretary Blinken to do something similar so that they can meet somewhere in the middle and a hostage deal can finally be done.

But certainly, Rosemary, we're not there yet. But there is some kind of weary optimism that we could be inching closer, finally, to a hostage deal that would see the more than 100 hostages who were abducted by the Hamas and others on October the 7th in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners, and of course, a pause in the fighting and an increase in humanitarian aid that's desperately needed in the Gaza Strip. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Elliott Gotkine, bringing us the latest from London.

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 Younis in the south are continuing, where it says more militants in civilian clothing were killed Tuesday after preparing to attack Israeli forces.

[03:05:05] Meantime, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza is accusing the Israeli military of tightening the siege of a medical complex near Khan Younis, 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're 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.

Earlier I spoke with CNN military analyst and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton about the war in Gaza and Israel's goal to defeat Hamas and wipe out its leadership.


COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: 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's always a chance that may be wrong and that they may have escaped 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 Khan Younis.

CHURCH: And Israel's defense minister, as you mentioned, 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 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 that we think is in Gaza, and the Hamas leadership that's outside of the country, particularly in Qatar.


CHURCH: 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.

Chile's interior minister says three others survived the crash and are, quote, "out of danger." But it's not clear yet what caused the accident. People left flowers outside Pinera's house following news of his death. His terms in office, he helped guide Chile through an economic crisis, the rescue of 33 trapped miners in 2010 and the COVID-19 pandemic. The devastating wildfires in Chile have now claimed more than 130

lives and burned down at least 3,000 homes in the Valparaiso region. The U.N. disaster agency is calling the fires the country's deadliest on record. Christopher Ulloa reports from a Chilean town badly scorched by the flames.


CHRISTOPHER ULLOA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Valparaiso remains in a state of emergency. It's been a terrifying situation for all the people here in the region of Valparaiso. Right now we are in the sector of Quilpue and even among the rubble, the ashes, there are families that they are putting some Chilean flags in a sign to give some support to all of the families that have lost everything they have. As you can see in the images of my cameraman, Jose Vazquez, there are houses totally burned.

There are cars that have been totally devastated by the flames. And there's also the families that are still trying to clean the ashes, to clean the rubble, and trying to start all over again. They're asking for more help from the government. They say they need special machines to remove all of everything that is left from the houses and all the cars.

And you can see the people trying to do the best as they can, but they need food, they need food supplies, they need water, and they also need security. They say in the night especially there are some people that are intentionally trying to start new wildfires, so the situation is very tough, it's very complicated.

President Gabriel Boric has already said this is the biggest tragedy after the earthquake of 2010. All the resources, all the forces of the military and the police and the firemen are trying to, right now to, extinguish all of the wildfires but the heat wave that is affecting our country in the last few days is also not very helpful with this task.


It's going to be tough, it's going to be complicated and it's going to be a situation that is still going to develop in the next few days.

For CNN, Christopher Ulloa, Quilpoe, Chile.


CHURCH: The devastating fires in Chile 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 at least nine people there are dead due to weather-related issues like falling trees.

Raul Cordero is a climate scientist and professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He joins us now. Thank you so much for talking with us.


CHURCH: So what is causing these deadly wildfires in Chile and how much is climate change to blame here?

CORDERO CARRASCO: Well, there is always the influence of land management, ignition sources, available fuel, but the significant consensus is climate change is playing a major role in these kind of extreme events. The last weekend, as you reported -- was just reporting, Central Chile was hit by an extremely powerful heat wave.

We saw in a row temperatures that are very, they are not often occurring. And of course, these extreme temperatures, plus low humidity, plus strong winds contributed to extreme weather conditions that led to these -- that allowed this first to happen.

CHURCH: And the death toll and destruction continue to climb. The country's president calling this Chile's biggest tragedy since 2010, the earthquake. Could this be the new normal for the country or can action be taken to ensure that that's not the case? What can be done?

CORDERO CARRASCO: Well, Chile is a middle-income country. They are being allocated significant resources for fighting fires. For example, in the recent years, Chile has been allocated about $100 billion for fighting fires. This season, the forecast suggests that this season would be active when it comes to fires, due to the El Nino. El Nino is also, with global warming, both are pushing temperature upward, and extreme temperatures are contributing to these kind of fires.

At least they are boosting fire risk and increasing the potential for these type of fires once it needed, intensified rapidly and spread faster.

So the forecast was there and the money was there. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the last season saw an increment in the budget allocated for fighting fires of about 50 percent. One of the 50 millions were allocated for fighting fires. That proved insufficient to prevent this disaster. Since we actually have to focusing on improving the response of the population to the early warning system. A lot of people decided to ignore the warning.

CHURCH: And the president had mentioned a few days ago the possibility of arson. How likely is it that arson played a role here that people lit some of these fires by design?

CORDERO CARRASCO: Well, there is always an arsonist. I mean, that is something normal. We are in Chile in the middle of the Australian summer. Central Chile has its fire season in summer, of course. And therefore we have every single day in Central Chile, dozens of fires, dozens of fires.

Of course, the magnitude of the tragedy is pushing us for looking for some kind of scapegoats. But from my point of view focusing on the emission sources is at the moment pointless because we are in the middle of the fire season. All we have dozens of fires to deal every single day.

Authorities have to be clear. I mean, what is turning a regular fire into a major disaster is these extreme fire weather conditions that are occurring more frequently due to climate change.

CHURCH: Raul Cordero, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

CORDERO CARRASCO: Happy to work with you.


CHURCH: The European Commission is supporting one of the most ambitious climate goals in the world. On Tuesday, the E.U. published a roadmap to slash carbon pollution by 90 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2040.

It could take a year before the European Parliament approves the target. The Commission removed the agricultural sector from an earlier draft as a concession to European farmers who have been protesting for weeks complaining that the E.U.'s environment policies threatened their livelihoods.

Well another big legal blow to Donald Trump. A federal appeals court puts a knife through his main defense in the election interference case.

Plus, Britain's King Charles gets a special visitor in London after Buckingham Palace announces his cancer diagnosis. Back with that and more in just a moment.


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 mid-flight 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.

In Washington, a bipartisan deal on immigration reform and funding for Ukraine and Israel looks all but doomed to fail amid growing Republican opposition to the bill ahead of a key procedural vote in the Senate. And if it ever makes it to the lower chamber, the U.S. House Speaker has already declared the measure dead on arrival.

Donald Trump has railed against a bipartisan compromise as he seeks to make immigration a central campaign issue. U.S. President Joe Biden had this warning for Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We can't walk away now. That's what Putin's betting on. Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin. Opposing this bill is playing into his hands. History is watching. A fairer support for Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten.


CHURCH: Meanwhile on Tuesday, 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 opposed the measure, which needed two-thirds majority to pass.

A U.S. federal appeals court has ruled Donald Trump cannot use presidential immunity to shield himself from prosecution for the alleged crimes he committed to reverse the 2020 election results. CNN's chief legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reed has a closer look at the ruling and the Trump team's strategy.


PAULA REED, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a unanimous, historic ruling, three judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting former President Trump's claim that he has absolute immunity from criminal prosecution. The judges writing, for the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant.

Special counsel Jack Smith charged him with four federal counts related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

JACK SMITH, SPECIAL COUNSEL: It's described in the indictment, it was fueled by lies, lies by the defendant, targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government.

REED (voice-over): Trump has repeatedly insisted he was acting within the scope of his duties as president and therefore cannot be tried.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A president of the United States has to be free and clear of mind. And you can't be worrying about something where you're doing the right thing, but if it doesn't work out, you're going to end up in prison.

REED (voice-over): The judges on Tuesday batted down that argument and slammed Trump's alleged efforts to stay in power, despite losing the election, as unpresidential and an assault on American institutions.

We cannot accept former President Trump's claim that a president has unbounded authority to commit crimes. Former President Trump's stance would collapse our system of separated powers by placing the president beyond the reach of all three branches.

In a statement today, the Trump campaign argued that without complete immunity, no president could properly perform their duties for fear of retribution. If immunity is not granted to a president, every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party.

But the court also rejected any suggestion that prosecuting Trump in this case would have a chilling effect on future leaders. Past presidents have understood themselves to be subject to impeachment and criminal liability, at least under certain circumstances, so the possibility of chilling executive action is already in effect.

Trump is vowing to appeal, and the Supreme Court will likely have the final say. The justices, though, were already set to hear arguments on Thursday in another case with huge implications for Trump on whether his actions after the 2020 election disqualify him from the 2024 ballot.

REED: With Trump expected to appeal, the issue really becomes now one of timing because the longer the Supreme Court sits with this case, the less likely it is that it can go to trial before the 2024 presidential election. And Trump's strategy here while they are litigating some valid constitutional questions, really his number one priority is to try to delay, delay, delay, and push both of his federal criminal cases back until after the election.

Paula Reed, CNN, Washington.


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 Tuesday, a day after Buckingham Palace announced his cancer diagnosis. Meantime, his son Prince Harry arrived in London, flying in from California. More now from CNN's Isa Soares.


ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rushing to his father's side after a troubling cancer diagnosis. Prince Harry arrives in the U.K. alone.

Just one day after the news sent shockwaves throughout the country, Harry flew from Los Angeles to London and drove directly to the King's residence where he stayed for less than an hour.

The Prince's arrival without his wife, Meghan Markle, or their children comes amid a family feud that has played out publicly. One that saw the couple step down from their royal duties in 2020, following damning accusations of racism and ill treatment.

Only last year, Harry's tell-all book "Spare" detailed episodes of a troubled family life, accusing then-Queen Consort Camilla of leaking stories to the British press and saying his brother and sister-in-law never really accepted his wife due to racial stereotypes. [03:25:02]

Now Harry's back in the U.K. for the first time since the King's coronation last year. This diagnosis raising speculation of a royal reconciliation after years of estrangement.

UNKNOWN: He's got to come back to see his father hasn't he? I mean it's the right thing to do.

UNKNOWN: This whole family feud thing seems a bit silly in my opinion, as you all make up and hopefully this brings them together a little bit more.

SOARES (voice-over): Perhaps a chance to heal what was once a strong bond. Not only between father and son but between brothers.

EMILY NASH, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: This is a major event for the Royal Family and like any family a cancer diagnosis comes as a big shock and people will want to rally around and rightly the priority has to be supporting their father. But we'd all like to see relations after a very difficult period in their relationship as brothers. Primarily the Duke of Sussex is going to be here to spend time with his father.

SOARES (voice-over): We have been told there are no plans for the brothers to meet officially. But in the event 75-year-old King Charles undergoes surgery or becomes debilitated, both William and Harry, first and fifth in line to the throne, might need to step up as councilors of state.

With this diagnosis comes uncertainty, not just for the family but also for the monarchy. And with a slimmed down royal family, an image of unity will be crucial for the health and the future of the crown.

Just as it happened when the family gathered to say goodbye to their matriarch, Queen Elizabeth, in September of 2022. Prince Harry's return, however long, a renewed proof that at the end of the day, regardless of the turmoil, family always comes first.

Isa Soares, CNN, London.


CHURCH: Still to come, militias backed by Iran have been carrying out a flurry of attacks in the region, mostly small-scale, but they are raising questions about how much influence Iran has over these groups.

Plus, a young woman in Sierra Leone calls it a wicked tradition, the practice of female genital mutilation. We will have an in-depth look at one activist's efforts to end the tradition. That's when we come back.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Iran-backed Houthi rebels are vowing to ramp up their attacks on American and British ships in the Red Sea if the war in Gaza does not end. But it's unclear if they have the resources to follow through with that threat. For weeks now, the U.S. and U.K. have been launching strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, which are meant to halt the militants' attacks on ships they claim are linked to Israel.



ABDUL-MALIK AL-HOUTHI, HOUTHI LEADER (through translator): I'm warning them. I say that they must first stop their barbaric, brutal and criminal aggression against Gaza, and to stop their siege of the Palestinian people from whom they deny medicine and food in the Gaza Strip. Otherwise, we will seek to escalate further and further.


CHURCH: The Pentagon says ongoing attacks by Iran-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Jordan are responsible for 146 U.S. casualties since October. Most of them were not serious, but there are growing questions about who's ordering these attacks and how much control Iran really has over its proxies and allies.

CNN's Paula Hancocks explains.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United States says this is just the beginning.

Striking Iranian-backed militia in Syria and Iraq, and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, an axis of resistance that is funded, trained, and equipped by Tehran. But are they controlled by them?

VALL NASR, PROFESSOR, JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: I think Iran has given the broad support that this is the time to put pressure on U.S. and Israel. But I don't think they manage them as tightly as we are assuming.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Last week, the most powerful proxy in Iraq, Qatayib Hezbollah, said it was suspending attacks against the United States just days after three American service members were killed in a drone attack in Jordan, an attack which sharpened the Biden administration's focus on Tehran.

FARZAN SABET, GENEVA GRADUATE INSTITUTE: While this reveals kind of the Qatayib Hezbollah's reaction and potentially Iranian pressure on them over the attacks on the U.S. and the consequences of the fallout, I don't think this necessarily means an end to the attacks. And any pause will likely be short-lived, a matter of days or weeks.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Sources familiar with U.S. intelligence say U.S. officials believe that Iran's leadership may be concerned about the actions of some of its proxies, although adding it is unlikely to affect their support of these groups.

SANAM VAKIL, CHATHAM HOUSE: They are involved because of their own agency, because they have their own local and domestic goals. They also want sort of accountability for deaths on their own fighters and on their own terrain. So it's not just that Iran can press a button and get everyone to stop.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): The assassination four years ago of Qasem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and others, may have also weakened Tehran's direct power over some of these groups.

SABET: Once they were assassinated, there is a belief among many experts that they kind of effectiveness of Iranian command and control over these groups began to break down somewhat.

HANCOCKS: Neither Washington nor Tehran appear to have the appetite for direct confrontation. U.S. officials saying that an attack on Iranian soil is highly unlikely. What we've heard from Iranian proxies, they said that they would silence their guns, even if Tehran's influence on some groups has lessened if there is a ceasefire in Gaza, the same as they did last November.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


CHURCH: More than 80 percent of women and young girls in Sierra Leone and more than 200 million worldwide have been subjected to female genital mutilation.

Our David McKenzie teamed up with As Equal, CNN's ongoing series on gender inequality, and they spent time with a brave activist who has faced harassment and isolation as she tries to change the mutilation practice from inside the communities. And a warning, you may find some of these images disturbing.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across Sierra Leone, there's a hidden horror.

MCKENZIE: What's happening?

RUGIATU TURAY, FOUNDER, AMAZONIAN INITIATIVE MOVEMENT: We are going to Cambia, and there is an incident of a young girl that died after initiation.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): We're traveling with activist Rugiatu Turay. Her life's work is ending female genital mutilation or FGM.

Traditionally the cutting is kept secret in the initiation to the all- female Bondo Society. A society that is a rite of passage for girls and young women where they also learn valuable skills from members.

TURAY: Somebody grabbed me on the back and he sits me naked.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Turay was excited about joining the Bondo Society when she was just 11 she learned the truth. TURAY: I felt the sharp cuts. I started fighting. And when I woke up,

I saw my sisters, the two of them on the floor bleeding. I could not walk for seven days because I lost so much blood.


MCKENZIE: Did you already think then that this should stop?

TURAY: It was from that experience that I started talking to my friends.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Talking to anyone who will listen.

TURAY: Just yesterday we got this information about this 13-year-old girl.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): In the holding cells, the girl's own mother, police arrested her, the cutter or soway (ph), and her grandmother. Arrests like these in Sierra Leone are extremely rare. In the village where she died, most have fled, afraid of the police, afraid of the consequences.

Salomatu Jolo was just 13. Police believe she bled to death. She's been here alone for four days.

When I went inside and saw my daughter's body, I felt devastated, says her father. I didn't feel good. I'm confused. This stench is all over here.

TURAY: Why do parents still continue to subject their children to this pain? Parents that I know love their children so much and they always protect them.

MCKENZIE: And why do they?

TURAY: They looked at the cutting as being the Bondo itself.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): To separate the two, Turay and her organization go village to village. She targets the soways who are paid to cut, trains them in new skills convincing them to put down their knives and lead bloodless Bondo ceremonies.

Turay is slowly succeeding, where for decades international organizations have failed.

TURAY: You cannot fight something you are not part of. I am part of the community. I know what they do. I know. I talk out of experience. They understand me. I understand them.

TITI SESAY, BLOODLESS BONDO INITIATE: I run away because my mother and my aunt want me to join the Bondo with cuts.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): It's still up to brave young women like Titi Sesay to resist the social pressure and to convince others as well. But the U.N. still estimates more than 80 percent of women and girls have gone through FGM here. SESAY: They say it's a tradition. I said this tradition is very

wicked. This is a wicked tradition.

MCKENZIE: It's a huge mountain to climb still. Do you think you can climb that mountain?

TURAY: In Sierra Leone we've gone too far climbing the hills. We've gone so far.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Going far. Building schools to educate and empower young girls.

Helping Soez lead the charge to a better tradition. Celebrating protecting their sisters and daughters.

TURAY: We will climb the mountain and all of us will be at the mountain top to say FGM has end. And it will end in our generation as we speak.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): David McKenzie, CNN, Port Loco, Sierra Leone.





CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. 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. It's getting dark here. Hanako, Taylor Swift mania is sweeping across the city. What is the scene there right now?

HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Rosemary, there is just so much excitement and jubilation here in Tokyo. Taylor Swift's concert is just about to start in less than 30 minutes. Thousands of people have been coming through here since 1 p.m. local time, eager to see their favorite pop star take over that stage and sing and dance.

We have seen so many fans dressed up in these very colorful outfits, each one representing a different era in Taylor Swift's discography. We've also seen fans exchange friendship bracelets. I've actually gotten a few of them from Swifties myself. Very kind, very sweet.

And also, of course, people dancing and singing and cheering. I joined in myself. I had to. I couldn't help it.

And you know, Taylor Swift is so famous in the United States, but her fame transcends international borders Rosemary. Of course, fans are just so eager to see her. All the tickets have sold out to her concert. Concert organizers tell us that the concert tickets sold out within

the first 30 minutes that they went on sale, which is just incredible. She's also playing for four nights in a row here in Tokyo, which is a first for any foreign female artist in Tokyo Dome. That is just how in demand she is. Of course, we also have to remember that the last time Taylor Swift was playing in Tokyo was back in 2018, nearly six years ago for her Reputation Tour. So of course, fans are Swift deprived. They wanna see her.

We actually spoke to a super fan earlier today who had a very different way of celebrating Taylor Swift.


UNKNOWN: 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?

UNKNOWN: Yes, I did.

MONTGOMERY: Can I ask why?

UNKNOWN: Because last time I went to six shows on the Reputation tour, and but yeah you know it wasn't enough.


MONTGOMERY: Just so much excitement, Rosemary. Just a lot of dedicated fans.

CHURCH: Yeah, I mean, that is true dedication when you give up your job, right? Hanako Montgomery, joining us live there from Tokyo. Go and enjoy the concert.

And thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Have yourselves a wonderful day. "Marketplace Middle East" is coming up next.