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IDF: Four Israel Hostages Rescued In Gaza Military Operation; Gantz Postpones News Conference After Hostage Release; Source: At Least 107 People Killed In Israeli Military Operation; Soon: Biden And Macron Makes Statement Ahead Of State Dinner; IDF: Four Israeli Hostages Rescued In Gaza Military Operation; Israeli Hostages Rescued. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired June 08, 2024 - 09:00   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to CNN News Morning. It is Saturday, June 8. Officially, we're now into CNN Newsroom. I'm Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Amara Walker. This is a special edition of CNN Newsroom. Smerconish is off this week, and Michael will be back next week.

We start with Breaking News this morning. There is rejoicing in the streets of Israel today after the IDF announced that four hostages who have been in captivity since the October 7 attacks have been rescued. Earlier, the IDF spokesman offered these details into their rescue.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANIEL HAGARI, IDF SPOKESMAN: This was a high risk complex mission

based on precise intelligence conducted in daylight in two separate buildings deep inside Gaza, while under fire, under fire inside the buildings, under fire on the way -- on the way out from Gaza, our forces rescued our hostages. Israeli forces have been preparing for this rescue mission for weeks. They are underwent in intensive training. They risk their lives to save the lives of our hostages.


BLACKWELL: One of those freed, Noa Argamani, who had last been seen being kidnapped by Hamas fighters on a motorcycle. Now the IDF says the four are in good medical condition. They've been transferred to a medical center. With us now CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman and CNN International diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson.

Ben, let's start with you and tell us what you've learned about the military operation that led to the rescue.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this operation was focused Victor in the Nuseirat Camp and which is in central Gaza, and what we've seen was intense military action on the ground and in the air by Israeli forces, starting around mid-morning. Now, according to hospital sources at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah nearby, at least 107 bodies have been brought to that hospital. There are apparently hundreds of injuries as well.

This is the third operation in which Israel has been able to rescue hostages in Gaza, a total of seven hostages have been released since the 7th of October. It's worth noting that back at the end of November last year, during a weeks long cease fire, they were able rather the negotiations and the cease fire that resulted found that 105 people were released in that instant. Now, among those released, in addition to Noa Argamani, who has been in touch with the Prime Minister and President of Israel, there is Almog Meir Jan, 21 recently released from the army, and two security guards. All of them were at that nova music festival. The other two are Andrey Kozlov, 27. He's a Russian Israeli national, and Shlomi Ziv, 40 also a security guard there.

Obviously, in Israel, this is being met with much jubilation, but the scenes from the hospitals in Gaza are really quite disturbing. Blood on the floor of hospitals that are full to capacity, the morgues full as well. Now we've heard from Sami Abu Zuhri, speaking to Reuters, he's a spokesman for Hamas, saying that the freeing of the these hostages is a sign of failure, not of an achievement, that this is all that could be achieved after nine months of war. Victor.

WALKER: All right. And let's go to Nic now. And you know, the reaction from the hostage and missing families forum has been obviously jubilant. They're calling this a miraculous triumph, and it comes as a key official in the Israeli government has now postponed an announcement where he was expected to announce that he was withdrawing from the war cabinet.

First, what does this rescue mean in terms of getting to a ceasefire deal? Nic and two, do you think we'll hear from Benny Gantz anytime soon?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, it was Benny Gantz who was expected to speak this afternoon. A couple of days ago, is expected to announce that he withdraw from the war cabinet, which had the sort of implicit threat that, because he was before October 7, the principal opposition to Prime Minister Netanyahu, that this could bring down the war cabinet and therefore, sort of trigger over the near period elections in Israel.


But I think over the past 48 hours prior to the this hostage release, had become clear that he was shifting away from that position, perhaps under pressure from U.S. officials not to pull out of that cabinet at this time. Whatever his motivation, not clear but it does seem that the release of these four hostages is going to strengthen Prime Minister Netanyahu's hand, because his message has always been.

We put the hostages first. We continue to fight. We're going to release them. The only way to do it is through military pressure. So this reinforces the Prime Minister's hand. So what does that do to hostage negotiations? I think it just pushes them further down the road, because that's what we've seen happen before. And I think when you sort of look at it from the Palestinian

perspective inside Gaza, as Ben is saying that the death toll in the area where this -- it appears, this rescue mission took place, is high, and we saw that in January this year, when a couple of other hostages were released, and the IDF later explained the dynamic of that overnight rescue, and that was that they got on the location pretty quickly. Got into the room. Got into a firefight with the guards. And then, of course, Hamas was alerted, and the way that the IDF deal dealt with that to be able to be able to extract themselves and the hostages, was to lay down a huge amount of fire in the area. And that resulted in again, then back then, dozens upon dozens of civilian casualties in the vicinity, as the IDF sort of fought its way out of the situation.

So from a Palestinian perspective, the consequences of a hostage recovery mission, rescue and recovery mission like this is again going to push the dynamic of hostage negotiations away from the table, because it is going to inflame passion. So I think the short answer is, it makes it harder to achieve a ceasefire deal right now, at least.

BLACKWELL: Yes. That's an interesting element. And just as you were talking Nic, I got an alert in from our team that said that at least 107 people have been killed as a result of the Israeli military operation in central Gaza, near where this operation took place according to a spokesperson at the Al Aqsa Martyrs hospital.

I wonder, as the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken is headed back to the region in the next few days trying to push for this cease fire deal, what work can he do if in Israel, Netanyahu is emboldened because four hostages are home, and Hamas is now reacting to the more than 100 deaths as a result of the operation that freed those hostages.

ROBERTSON: I think the ground reality is this was always a very, very difficult environment -- diplomatic environment for Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to engage in, and he's had very little traction with this Israeli government, with all the things he's been talking about, whether it's additional humanitarian aid, whether it's the pressure to get hostage negotiations and ceasefires going sooner. And we've also seen the secretary postpone or delay because of events in the region. And although there's no indication that is going to delay right now, this will make his job harder, but the underlying reasons that he wants success, to get the hostages freed, to end the war, to end the suffering of the Palestinians, to improve the situation, to keep on side United States regional partners like Saudi Arabia, who say that they are ready to support a ceasefire if it leads to a two state solution, if there's a concrete path to a two state solution, of course, the United States need these needs -- these allies and partners in the region, because they will be part of the fabric that then supports a reconstruction effort inside of inside of Gaza, which is going to be hugely needed and may take more than a decade or even decades to complete.

So it's very complex, and part of what Secretary of State Anthony Blinken needs to do is just try to keep everyone as close to the table as possible. The last thing he needs is one of his partners in all of this to just throw out their hands and say, okay, a line has been crossed that doesn't that's not on the cards, but this is what is playing against.

WALKER: And Ben Wedeman, let's bring you back in and let's stay on. You know this conversation about you know what this means for a potential ceasefire deal? As you heard, Secretary of State, Antonia Blinken, will be traveling back to the region. He'll be meeting with officials in Israel on Monday. What are you expecting in terms of the Palestinian reaction and how this will all play out as a U.S. Secretary of State is in the region trying to get, you know, some kind of deal done.


WEDEMAN: Well, there seems to be so much confusion at this point about where each side stands on a hostage, on a deal, on some sort of deal to release the hostages get a cease fire. I think the broad lines is they're talking both sides seem to agree that a 42 day or six week period in which the elderly women, the sick, the injured, should be released. But it's really the end game that seems to be the problem. Prime Minister Netanyahu is insisting that his ultimate goal is the destruction of Hamas.

Hamas, however, wants to make sure that when the fighting finally comes to an end that they will still be able to exist and operate. So we have a basic contradiction between the two sides. However, obviously, I think the United States is eager just to bring this war to an end. It has cost President Biden politically among his base. It is sort of an open wound. I've covered basically every war between Israel and its neighbors and those it controls in the occupied territories now for decades. But this is by far the longest war, the war that has generated more anger, bitterness and division, and certainly for the United States, now that we are in the ninth month of this war with a huge death toll and disruption on in every sense really, the United States needs to push as hard as possible to finally bring this war to an end. Victor, Amara.

BLACKWELL: Ben Wedeman in Beirut. Nic Robertson in London. Thank you very much. Ian Bremmer is president of the Eurasia group. He is with us now.

Ian, good morning to you. So let's start here with what this rescue operation means for Benjamin Netanyahu, First on the ceasefire deal, because there was some reporting that the Israelis agreed to it. But then there were reports that Netanyahu said there were gaps between what Biden had proposed and what he will agree to what now for the ceasefire deal, the proposal that's on the table.

IAN BREMER, PRESIDNET, EURASIA GROUP: Look, obviously, it's a huge win when you've had seven months plus of these hostages being held and no one knowing how many of them are alive, nobody knowing what kind of health conditions they're in, not just the visuals of seeing these four freed by Israel, but also being able to talk to them, being able to hear their experiences. I mean, this is just a catharsis for trauma that the Israeli people have collectively been through. And of course, not just Netanyahu, but the entire war cabinet benefits from that.

But negotiating with Hamas a breakthrough on this, when you have two governments, one terrorist organization and the Israeli government that completely disagree on outcomes, has been incredibly hard to square.

I mean, every other country in the world is looking for a ceasefire. It's looking for an end of the fighting, and it's looking for all of the hostages to be released. Hamas doesn't support that, unless they find a way to continue to survive. And the Israelis, and not just the Prime Minister, but the entire Israeli population, wants to see Hamas destroyed.

There's really no way to square that, and especially if you're the Israeli prime minister, looking at American elections coming up in just a few months, looking at the ability to address a joint session of Congress in just a few weeks, even though Biden's not very interested in that, you know, he thinks he'll do much better if Biden is out. And I suspect that's true.

And so right now, if you're the Israeli Prime Minister, you are playing for time, and you're not particularly interested in coming to a short or a long term deal with Hamas and Gaza.

BLACKWELL: So just as you were speaking Ian, we saw President Biden and President Macron sitting down for what's been described as a working lunch. We were not expecting them to make any remarks. Looks like lunch hadn't even been served. They were sitting there at place mats and utensils. So this was just a spray at the beginning of what we're told will be a discussion over a meal before the events this evening at the state dinner at the Elyse Palace. Here's that video again. We rewrapped really quickly. Thank you Control Room. Of the two men talking heard -- totally, we can't hear anything that they're talking about because of the distance, but the meetings continue in Paris.


Ian, back to you and Benny Gantz, he was expected to announce today at a news conference, his departure, because he gave Netanyahu, Prime Minister Netanyahu an ultimatum that he wanted to hear a plan for the release of the hostages. He wanted a plan for Gaza post war, and he did not get those. That was postponed because of the release today of these hostages or the rescue, I should say. Do you think that this puts off that departure for any more than to give these people and these families their moment? Or is it likely that he'll stay any longer?

BREMER: I don't think he's going to stay much longer. We now have Netanyahu pushing very hard and the far right to open a second front in the north with Hezbollah, as Hezbollah, much more powerful than Hamas, continues to show rockets down on Northern Israel, and 100,000 Israeli citizens continue to be evacuated from their homes, from their schools. It's the equivalent of 4 million Americans.

Imagine if, after 911 the entire states of Connecticut or Louisiana were evacuated, it would be all we're talking about. So that is a significant push Gantz continues to have as a red line, the formation of some kind of plan for governance of the Palestinians after the war is over in Gaza. Netanyahu has been completely uninterested in accepting that. So there are really some significant gaps between these two that are also pretty unbridgeable. I expect Gantz is going to be out sooner or later, probably sooner. But that doesn't bring down the government in Israel. The government is the Likud party, Netanyahu and the far right allies. And there, what would bring down the government would be if there were a breakthrough deal, as Biden had announced, with Hamas.

What would bring down the government would be accepting a two state solution. What would bring down the government would be a, you know, a willingness to engage on the terms that the rest of the world is trying to get the Israelis to move towards to have some peace and stability after months and months of war. That's not going to happen, so I fear. And by the way, since Gantz has made this announcement, this ultimatum, we've seen the first polls since October 7th that show that Netanyahu is once again more popular than Gantz among the Israeli population.

So Gantz can go and, you know, we'll see who replaces them, and we'll see what the new war cabinet will look like. But I suspect it's not going to make much of a difference for this Israeli government, and ultimately, they are the ones that call the shots for Israel's future.

BLACKWELL: Ian Bremmer, thank you very much. We'll continue to see what happens after the rescue of these four hostages. Thanks for your time.

WALKER: And we will, of course, stay on the breaking news in France and in Israel. Also this morning, some Democrats are angry with President Biden over a policy shift on the southern border. Still to come, the crackdown on asylum seekers and how the White House is looking to mend fences with its allies.

[09:23:07] WALKER: It's a blunt criticism over border security. President Biden issued an executive action about new asylum restrictions this week, and some Democrats are not happy about it. The proclamations new restrictions would allow the administration to suspend and limit entry to asylum seekers who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

Now, Biden's move comes after efforts to pass a bipartisan border bill failed to advance in the Senate last month, blocked by Republican opposition and democratic divisions, the number of encounters has increased dramatically during the same time frame that just saw over 2 million during Trump's presidency. During Biden's it rose to 7.8 million. The proposed measure could be turned on and off. Asylum would be shut down when the average number of migrants illegally crossing the border reaches 2,500.

The restriction would be lifted when the average of daily encounters falls below 1,500 for several consecutive days. Now, the ACLU has said it will file a lawsuit to stop the action from going into effect. Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Delia Ramirez of Illinois,

who is on the Homeland Security Committee. Appreciate joining us, Congresswoman. First off, I want to make clear you opposed that Senate bipartisan border deal, and now you issued a statement this week saying you're disappointed in Biden's executive order that the crisis is not at the border, but one of conscience, tell me what you mean by that.

REP. DELIA RAMIREZ, (D) ILLINOIS: Look, we are experiencing a global crisis and merely attempting to address it with some truly unsustainable and in some ways disappointing and harsh policy at the border is not going to solve the issue. There's a reason why people are crossing the Darien 530,000 last year, restricting asylum at our southern border is not going to stop people from going through the experience they're going through. What they're going through in Panama, what they're going to Colombia and Venezuela and Haiti and China.


And so what I've said is we have to ask ourselves, if restricting asylum is going to stop people from wanting to seek a better life, the answer is no. The difference is more people will die attempting between ports of entry, and you want to see more children experiencing some of the most traumatic experiences at our southern border on the Mexico side.

WALKER: So then Congresswoman, what should happen at the border when tens of thousands of migrants are trying to cross into this country illegally? I mean, should there not be a limit at all? Should Border Patrol just try to process all of them? What's the solution?

RAMIREZ: Well, look, I've been saying over and over, and I'm a vice drinking member in homeland security, we need more added support and staff at the border, without a doubt, and Republicans continue to play all sorts of games, so really make sure that they can drag this out through November. We need more staffing. We also have to create more legal pathways.

An EO that is talking about creating more legal pathways, coming out and saying to State Department of Homeland Security, I am going to work with Congress to get more resources into Panama so that Panama is not just a transit state, but also helping provide protections to people. All of these other things that we should be doing that actually address the issue of number of people attempting to cross, is what we should be doing.

And look President Biden, four years ago, when he was running, he said, I, unlike Trump, understand that this country is a country of immigrants, and I will not restrict someone's ability to seek asylum in our country. Attempting to restrict it today goes against who President Biden says he is. At the same time, look at the immigration policy we have 1986. We haven't done anything around immigration reform.

So when you haven't done anything, you haven't expanded legal pathways, you have climate refugees. These countries are in corruption and violence. There's so much to be done. Merely saying you cannot seek asylum after going through the most horrific things at our southern border goes against everything we say we are and it doesn't work.

WALKER: How would you characterize what's happening at the border? Would you say it's chaos right now?

RAMIREZ: There's a humanitarian crisis. And look, I just came from Panama six months ago. I saw thousands of people, many of them very, very sick with malaria, desperately looking for help. And I also saw that we should be strengthening our relationship with Panama to also help them extend protections for people. But the reality is that we don't have added staff at the border. We're not processing the resources with more supports.

So imagine having to seek attorney, and you have four hours to do so I don't even know if I can hire an attorney in less than four hours and then be able -- to be able to demonstrate the fear and the experience I just went through so that some officer at the border can determine if I have credible fear, or they're going to repatriate me immediately back to the country that I'm fleeing. It doesn't -- I mean, ACLU has said it. They're suing. It's unacceptable. It goes against everything we say.

Should we be doing more to address the issues? Should we increase legal pathways? Should we building infrastructure at the ports of entry? We should be doing all of that. Merely restricting does not solve the problem.

WALKER: Understood. Well, obviously, you know more needs to be done. No one's holding their breath that Congress will do anything about it, especially in this election year. We'll leave it there. Representative Delia Ramirez, thank you for your time.

RAMIREZ: Thank you for having me.

WALKER: All right. Well, moments from now, we are expecting to hear from President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron. More on the official state visit to Paris is coming up.



BLACKWELL: Minutes from now, President Biden and French President, Macron, are expected to give statements to reporters there as part of the president's state visit to France.

Now the visit started this morning with President Macron welcoming President Biden and the First Lady.

This was at a parade ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe. Biden and Macron surveyed the troops and later read at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

WALKER: The two leaders are currently at a working lunch at President Macron's residence, the Elysee Palace.

And later today, Macron will welcome President Biden and the First Lady for an official state dinner.

So the close ties between the U.S. and France are, of course, on full display as Biden continues to push his message of saving democracy, fighting for it and freedom following his D-Day anniversary speech on Friday.

CNN senior White House correspondent, Kayla Tausche, is live in Paris this morning.

OK. So these statements are coming, following a meeting between Biden and Macron. What are we expecting? I mean, this wasn't scheduled or was it?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The statements were scheduled. The statements have long been expected as part of this state visit to announce the joint agreements that the two countries have reached that have been in the -- in the works in the planning process for several weeks, if not months leading up to this.

We expect that they will deal with maritime cooperation in the Indo- Pacific, that some commitments to Ukraine and to strengthening NATO, as well as some commitments on climate change, artificial intelligence, as well as several other topics too.

We know that that is essentially the bulk of the agenda today that the two leaders were expected to discuss.

And we know that they were discussing China in an unexpected opportunity for the pool to see the two presidents sitting down in what appeared to be a back garden or a back patio.

The conversation between the two leaders was not audible, but President Biden was overheard by one radio reporter, telling President Macron, or relaying to him something about his most recent conversation with President Xi Jinping of China.


Now, the two countries are expected to announce a maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to try to secure that territory, secure that region amid increasing aggression from China and some economic coercion that seen both targeting the United States as well as targeting Europe.

Europe had previously not necessarily embraced the more hawkish position of the United States, but now they're studying tariffs against certain Chinese products of their own.

Now they're starting to figure out exactly what they may need to do to adjust their posture toward China. So that was interesting to hear President Biden remark about that conversation with Xi.

Reporters will not get an opportunity to ask questions in a formal state, but as often the case in American press opportunities, that reporters in the room will try to shout questions at the leaders unclear if they will answer.

President Biden, in recent occurrences, has not taken an opportunity to respond, but we'll see if that changes this afternoon.

Back to you.

BLACKWELL: Kayla Tausche, thank you so much.

And stay with CNN. We'll bring you those remarks --


BLACKWELL: -- when they happen.

We're also following breaking news out of Israel. Four hostages held by Hamas since October 7th have now been free. This was in an Israeli military operation.

What Israeli officials are saying about the rescue?



WALKER: We didn't give up for a moment. Those words spoken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Noa Argamani. After she and three other captives, who were held captive by Hamas since the October 7th attacks, were freed.

They were actually rescued today by the IDF. All four were attending the Nova Music Festival when they were kidnapped.

BLACKWELL: Now, take a look at the video. This captures the reunion between Noa and her father after eight months apart. The hostages finally see their families at a local hospital where they were taken for examination.

CNN senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, is joining us now.

So the rescue operation was approved by the Prime Minister last week. What else do you know?

WEDEMAN: Well, we understand from Daniel Hagari, the spokesman for the Israeli military, that they were training for this operation for weeks, which took place in the Central Gaza Strip focused on the Nuseirat, a refugee camp where what we saw of beginning late morning was intense military activity on the ground and in the air with helicopters overhead, troops on the ground, a fairly intense bombardment.

At this point, we understand from officials at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in nearby Deir al-Balah (ph), that the death toll among Palestinians is at least 107. However, this operation did succeed in freeing these four hostages who were in two different locations.

And we can tell you they include Noa Argamani, 25 years old. Viewers may recall that she was videotaped as she was being taken away on the back of a motorcycle on the 7th of October from the Nova Music Festival.

The other three hostages were also at that music festival, including two security guards.

And we've heard from the Israeli authorities that despite eight months of captivity in Gaza, they are all in good medical condition.

We can't say the same for the situation in Gaza itself, where hospitals are struggling to deal with hundreds of wounded.

Now, this brings to seven, the total number of Israelis who have been freed, rescued by the Israeli military, compare that to the approximately week-long ceasefire at the end of November when, as a result of negotiations, 105 hostages were released, 81 Israelis and 24 foreign nationals.

Now, there are efforts, ongoing, to bring about a ceasefire that would result in the release of more hostages, but they don't seem to be making any progress at the moment.

Victor, Amara.

BLACKWELL: Ben Wedeman for us in Beirut.

We just got an update from our team in London that Israeli police report that an Israeli policeman, from a special counterterrorism unit, was killed as well in this hostage rescues name, Arnon Zamora.

We're continuing to get updates of this rescue operation throughout the morning. Of course, we'll bring those to you.

Let's go to Elysee Palace now. Any moment, we are expecting to hear from President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, the pre- planned press statements during this state visit.

They're, right now, wrapping up what's described as a working lunch. We'll bring you those remarks when they happen.



WALKER: We are moments away from President Biden and French President Manuel Macron addressing the press before their state dinner later today.

BLACKWELL: We're joined again by CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, and Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. Nic, let me start with you. Before we get to substance, typically, if these leaders are releasing a statement, it's on paper. If they're coming before cameras, they're answering questions.

Why are they coming out to read statements and walk away and not take questions? Do we know?


ROBERTSON: Well, there's only one of them is immediately facing an election, and that's President Biden. And that would be my guess.

They haven't said or they haven't made clear why they're taking this position. But I think, you know, even though the French are the host here and would generally set the agenda, I think they'd be prepared to go along with the White House if the White House said they didn't want questions, because they don't want the -- they don't want the possibility that the president will say something off the cuff as happens. And then that has to get walked back potentially.

WALKER: OK. So, Ian, what do you expect to hear? I mean, you know, obviously, the main topics are the intractable wars in Ukraine and, you know, the Israel-Hamas war. What do the two leaders need to find consensus on, if anything?

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: On Ukraine, specifically, they've had a few good weeks. They're all looking forward to the most important international meeting that's going to happen before U.S. elections, which is the 75th NATO anniversary in Washington, D.C., in just a few weeks.

And the efforts that have been made in recent weeks to get more weaponry to Ukraine, also very soon to get more money to Ukraine, guaranteed beyond just one year going forward. That is the coordination on the frozen assets of Russia to be used and leveraged by the allies to help Ukrainian defense.

All of that has been happening, the new targeting, all the rest, with very close coordination by Biden and Macron.

Indeed, I think you could argue that these two leaders have been essential in expanding the support more than any other leaders in NATO over the past weeks.

And France is not always in that position with the United States. So Biden appreciates it. It may not be there for very long. Both leaders are in trouble domestically in different ways, of course, under a lot of pressure.

But for now, they're going to want to take a bit of a victory lap and say, hey, this is the biggest threat that, you know, sort of the NATO alliance has faced over the last couple of years, and we are standing together resolute to address it. That's, I think, the biggest message that you're going to hear from these two leaders.

BLACKWELL: It's fair, Nic, to expect that at the top, they will acknowledge the release of, or I should stop saying release, the rescue --

WALKER: Rescue.

BLACKWELL: -- of the four hostages from Gaza. Hamas didn't release these hostages. The IDF went and got them.

What do you expect beyond that that we're going to hear?

ROBERTSON: Yes. They're both going to have commonality on that point, and perhaps mention and pay tribute to the IDF counterterrorism commander who was fatally injured, mortally wounded, during that raid, and died.

They both have commonality there. And I think just to your previous question, I think it's one of the point, why do you not take questions in a scenario like this? Because the presidents have different positions on a variety of issues, whether it's the Middle East, whether it's Ukraine or whether it's China, Taiwan, the Indo-Pacific, which undoubtedly be part of the conversation.

And if you take questions, then the audience, the journalists, are going to want to explore those differences. And that potentially is awkward. A neater, tidier statement deals with that.

So I think one of the things, and we've got a hint of that listening to, we saw President Macron and President Biden sitting down at a table outside before this meeting, having a quick conversation.

And just listening in, you could hear President Biden talking about working together. And he mentioned the last time that he saw President Xi.

And thinking back here to President Macron's last visit to Beijing, this was April last year, he talked about not wanting to get drawn in to a U.S.-China, you know, escalating -- you know, wanting -- not wanting to get drawn into that dynamic of tensions between the United States and China.

And France has different economic interests, if you will, in China, and is willing to play them differently to the United States. So they do have different positions there.

But we know from National Security Coordinator, John Kirby, that, you know, one of the things that will come up will be improving maritime coordination between the United States and France in the Indo-Pacific region.

So this is absolutely going to be about a common alliance that potentially could get drawn in to a conflict with China if China were to invade Taiwan, something France is very much opposed to as well, of course.

So there will be -- perhaps we'll hear some announcement about that, about some kind of maritime police-keeping force, border force, a tie- up, perhaps, between the U.S. Coast Guard and the -- and the French Navy. There could be -- that we could get something on that. WALKER: Well, quickly, Ian, you mentioned, you know, this U.S. champion plan, which is going to be a top priority when the G7 leaders meet in Italy in a few days from now, regarding this plan to leverage interest from seized Russian assets and alone to Ukraine.


Macron is a key holdout on this. We just have a few seconds, but, you know, do you expect that this is something is a -- is a -- is a topic that the two leaders have discussed or will discuss today?

BREMMER: It is. It's complex, but I think they're getting there. I think it will be announced just a few months ago. Everyone was a no. But the harder this war goes against the Ukrainians, the more urgency there is for the U.S. and the Europeans. And ultimately, I think they're going to get to yes.

Biden and Macron are closer right now on most global issues they've been in a very long time.

Nic is right. There are gaps. There's distance. But right now, there's more alignment than we've seen between the U.S. and France in a long time.

BLACKWELL: All right.

BREMMER: Both leaders know that that may well be very fleeting.

BLACKWELL: Ian Bremmer, Nic Robertson, thank you very much.

WALKER: And thank you all for watching.

BLACKWELL: Any moment now, we're going to get those statements from the president and President Macron will bring you those live as they happen.

Chris Wallace's show starts after a break.