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Several Top House Democrats Want Baiden to Exit Race; Left-Wing Coalition Beats Far Right in Surprise Result; Biden to Host NATO Summit in Washington this Week; Modi Heads to Moscow for Wide-Ranging Talks with Putin; Sicily's Water Crisis. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 04:30   ET



SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- more permanent end to the war continue while the first phase of this deal is carried out.

So step back, bigger picture.

Remember, we have a three-part deal that is on the table that was proposed by President Biden. The first part of that deal, the first part, the first phase rather, is what we're discussing here. And that first phase is a six-week ceasefire that would see Israeli hostages, the most vulnerable among them, so the elderly, the sick, females, exchanged for Palestinian prisoners.

And that's exactly what will be discussed in Doha this week with the CIA director in attendance alongside, of course, the key mediators and the warring parties. But this is going to be a huge challenge, Rosemary. In the past, negotiations around the release of Palestinian prisoners have taken many years. This time, these negotiators are hoping to have a breakthrough in just a matter of weeks.

But there's a lot of pressure that might propel them forward. Inside Gaza, the humanitarian situation is dire. Nearly every single Gazan has been displaced by this conflict. You mentioned those additional evacuation orders that were issued just recently. And then, of course, inside Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing huge pressure from those who want to see those hostages come home.

So we may very well see some progress in the coming weeks. But again, this is going to be a huge challenge, very difficult talks in Doha this week.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Salma Abdelaziz, many thanks for that live report from London.

And coming up, the world reacts to the French parliamentary election, with some countries celebrating the rejection of the far right.

Plus, why this week could be crucial for Joe Biden to shake the growing concerns among Democrats about whether he's fit to run for re- election.

Back with that and more in just a moment. [04:35:00]


CHURCH: More U.S. House Democrats are calling on President Joe Biden to end his re-election bid after last month's poor debate performance against Donald Trump. Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill today after the July 4th holiday. Amid growing concerns, President Biden could hurt the Democrats' chances of retaking the House and holding the Senate this November.

While recent polls suggest Mr. Biden's support is slipping, he's refusing to step aside. CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein weighs in.


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I mean, I think you have a drip, drip, drip of senior Democrats, particularly in the House, starting in the Senate, who are expressing publicly what many of them are saying privately, that they don't think Biden can recover from that debate performance against Trump. And that drip, drip, drip is going to weaken him, whether he stays in the race or not.

I do think that for those who believe that Biden is now in a position where he can't win, the phrase I heard a lot Thursday and Friday was grace. We need to give him grace to reach this decision on his own. The fact that instead he's kind of dug in very publicly since, I think is going to change that equation, and it's highly likely you're going to see more public pressure on him this week.


CHURCH: Returning to one of our top stories this hour, the stunning election result in France as a left-wing coalition defeats the far- right party in snap parliamentary elections. Max Foster is in Paris with the latest. Max, it looks like President Macron's gamble may have paid off after all.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Or backfired. It depends who you speak to. Most people seem to be united in the idea that a snap election has actually made him weaker, and the parliamentary system weaker too.

A leader in France's left-wing alliance says voters, quote, rejected the worst case scenario in Sunday's elections after the far-right failed to reach that majority. There were celebrations, though, in the street when the results were announced. The outcome was a reversal of the first-round elections a week earlier, when the National Rally topped its rivals, of course.

But after the second and final round on Sunday, the far-right came in third. The New Popular Front coalition came in first with 182 seats, making it the largest bloc, but without a majority. French President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance came in second. Let's see what the international reaction to this is. Nic Robertson joins me now, our international diplomatic editor, and I'm just imagining, Nic, what it'll be like for President Macron to go into the NATO summit, which I think is tomorrow.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, he'll be in Washington tomorrow, and it'll get underway later in the week. And absolutely, he will have an opportunity to speak with some of his counterparts, perhaps explain to them his rationale and why he thinks France can still play a dominant and important role in NATO, in the EU, supporting Ukraine, all these areas where Macron has really -- where Macron has allowed and made France play a big role in leading initiatives and putting forward ideas, such as having foreign troops inside Ukraine, actually NATO troops inside Ukraine, helping train Ukrainian forces. He's been the one who's pushing that.

So he's been very forward-leaning on the support of Ukraine and what he wants his NATO partners to do, and perhaps his partners will get a different version of him this week.

I think the sense, obviously, of relief at the EU, that they don't have to deal with a tough right-wing influence coming from France, is perhaps OK for today. But looking forward, maybe we've got a sense of what this really means from Donald Tusk, who was the former EU Council President, now, of course, the Prime Minister in Poland, and he put it this way, you know, in France, rather, in Paris, there has been enthusiasm, he said. In Moscow, there's disappointment. In Kyiv, there's been relief. And for us in Warsaw, that's enough, he said.

We've heard from the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, really trying to sort of pluck out the positives in this for him.


He said, look, here we have in the U.K. and France, in the past couple of weeks, done what we did in Spain a year ago, which is say no to the right. And you now have a sort of a strong, more socially conscious government in place there.

Those are the positives. But the negatives of the EU and the pushback that you allude to that Macron may find in Washington is that he may actually, on the world stage, be weaker, compromised by a parliament that doesn't really agree with some of his foreign policies and defense initiatives, and a hung parliament that is really a millstone around his international efforts, if you will.

ROBERTSON: OK, Nic Robertson, thank you.

Rosemary will, of course, be following the NATO summit as closely as ever, but I think a few more cameras will be following Macron to see what his body language is like.

Now, India's Prime Minister will meet Russia's President in Moscow in the coming hours. Up next, Rosemary will take a look at the relationship between the two countries and if it's changed since Putin's war in Ukraine. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

Amid growing questions over whether he's fit for office, U.S. President Joe Biden is set to host some of America's closest allies for the NATO summit. The gathering kicks off in Washington on Tuesday, marking the 75th anniversary of the alliance. Crews were already putting up barricades over the weekend to prepare for the high-stakes summit.

The White House says talks will largely focus on upping support for Ukraine and the country's path toward eventually joining the alliance.

President Biden is expected to take questions at a news conference when the summit concludes on Thursday.

India's Prime Minister will kick off a two-day visit to Moscow in the coming hours. The two leaders are expected to discuss, quote, regional and global issues of mutual interest.


It's the first time Narendra Modi will visit the Russian capital since President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine. India's ties with Russia date back decades to the Cold War and have remained strong despite repeated sanctions on Moscow from the West.

And Ivan Watson joins me now from Hong Kong with more on this. So, Ivan, how significant is Prime Minister Modi's trip to Moscow, and what are the two leaders likely to discuss and ultimately achieve during their meetings?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, it is significant because Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin haven't met face-to-face in nearly two years. That was last on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in September of 2022, and that's when Modi implicitly criticized Russia and Putin's invasion of Ukraine when he said, quote, today's era is not of war.

Now, last week was the most recent round of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and Modi did not attend that gathering, and that was largely seen to be a sign of India's displeasure with China, with the lingering tensions on the border between the two countries, which have erupted into violent and sometimes deadly skirmishes in the last several years.

Some analysts think that Modi is trying to go to Moscow to continue to use Russia as a kind of counterbalance for the tensions that it has with China, and especially watching how close Putin and Xi Jinping have gotten in the last couple of years. I mean, they're meeting together almost, it feels like, every month, whereas Modi and Putin meet far less frequently, even though India and Russia enjoy a, quote, special and privileged partnership.

There are -- there is a longstanding defense relationship between Russia and India. India relies on Russian weapons, and India's imports of Russian energy have surged since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, India buying discounted Russian crude oil, to the concern of Western countries that have been trying to isolate Russia.

There are areas, other areas of friction, and they include the fact that some Indian citizens have been popping up in the ranks of the Russian armed forces fighting in Ukraine, and that was mentioned by a senior Russian diplomat. Take a listen.


VINAY KWATRA, INDIAN FOREIGN SECRETARY (through translator): At every level of Russian leadership, both official and political, we have expressed strong concern that Indian citizens who are being taken to the Russian army through improper procedures must be returned promptly.


WATSON: Finally, I would argue that Modi is kind of doing a geopolitical balancing act, right? His trade ties with a country like the U.S. are far bigger than they are with Russia. He also needs Russia with China. And he has tensions with China. And he's trying to carve a kind of a neutral road between some of these big geopolitical tensions.

For Vladimir Putin, Rosemary, this is an opportunity to show that he's not as isolated as Western governments would like him to be, particularly during a week when President Biden will be hosting a NATO summit in Washington -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, our thanks to Ivan Watson bringing us that live report from Hong Kong.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is in Beijing on what he calls a, quote, peace mission 3.0. Orban posted this picture on social media after he met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. His visit to Beijing comes after two high-profile international trips in the past week. He met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday, a trip the U.S. called counterproductive to Hungary's relationship with its allies. And on Tuesday, Orban met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and urged him to consider a ceasefire to, quote, speed up peace talks.

Coming up next, how extreme heat and water shortages are causing misery in Sicily for residents and tourists alike.



CHURCH: An update now on Hurricane Beryl, which should be making landfall anytime now along the Texas coast. The eye of the category one storm is approaching Matagorda in Texas, about a hundred miles southwest of Houston. Hurricane force wind gusts and deteriorating conditions have been reported overnight along the coast. More than 84,000 customers are already without power, and that number will likely rise as the storm moves inland.

Well, Sicily is running out of water. The region has been under a state of emergency since February, thanks to extreme drought conditions and leaking infrastructure and its booming tourism sector. One of Sicily's biggest sources of income is suffering.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau joins me now live from Rome. So, Barbie, what impact are these water shortages having on Sicily's tourism industry exactly?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN REPORTER: Yes, you know, this really doesn't affect the larger hotels. Those hotels are required by law to have enough water. Most of that is tanked in and stored on site for all of their residents.

It's really about these smaller establishments, these B&B type places that are inside of residential buildings that are really unable to provide water for the tourists, and as a result, are having to turn people away. Most of them are rebooked into the larger hotels or to other parts of the island that aren't under water restrictions.

But Rosemary, what's really important about this is this is not about this summer. This is about last summer and last winter and the summer before. In 2021, Sicily recorded the hottest temperature ever in Europe.


That was 48.8 degrees Celsius. That's nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit. And they've got a lot of issues with infrastructure. There are three desalination plants that are not functioning. They're working very hard to try to bring online. But all of those compound the issue here.

It didn't rain last winter. It didn't rain the winter before. The aquifers are dry. The tourists are suffering, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, and Barbie, what about life for the residents, though, of Sicily? I mean, how are they dealing with this drought and water restrictions?

NADEAU: Yes, you know, the second largest industry after tourism in Sicily is, of course, agriculture. And we've talked to farmers who've had to make the difficult decision between whether or not to cull their herds or let them starve to death because there just isn't any food for them. They're trying to get the government to help to try to give them, you know, subsidies to be able to buy hay and other fodder for their livestock.

But we've seen places where these animals graze completely dry, the watering holes where they would get their water completely dried up. And so the residents there that deal with agriculture that are in the agricultural industry are really suffering as well. You know, you can hope for rain, but that's not in the forecast. It's going be another hot summer. It's only early July, and they're expecting this to be another hot summer followed by a very dry winter. And that is the problem -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. Barbie Nadeau, many thanks for your live report from Rome.

And thank you for joining us here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church in Atlanta. CNN "THIS MORNING" is up next after a quick break.