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CNN This Morning

Kim Jong-un Appears to Be En Route to Russia; Rescuers Race to Find Survivors as Morocco Quake Kills 2,000+; Search for Escaped Killer in PA Now a Nationwide Manhunt; Biden Returning Home after India, Vietnam Visits; Haley Seizes on CNN Poll Showing Her with Biggest Lead Over Biden. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2023 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. We're glad you're with us on this Monday. Of course, it is a day that is a very sad day for everyone, for the world, September 11, 2023. It has been 22 years since this country was attacked on September 11. And we will remember and mark that throughout the morning. We'll be watching ceremonies where there will be remembrances all morning long. You'll see it right here on CNN.

But we do begin with this right now. President Biden is heading back to the United States from the G-20 summit and a stop in Vietnam. He will mark 9/11 when he stops in Alaska.

He's not the only world leader on the move. This is our breaking news this morning.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Several South Korean media outlets are reporting that North Korean's Kim Jong-un appears to be on his way to Russia. This news comes just days after U.S. officials warned that Kim and Putin could meet to discuss a potential deal to supply Moscow with weapons for its war in Ukraine.

Neither Russia nor North Korea have confirmed that meeting.

But we do have team coverage this morning. This is all very fast- moving. CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is standing by in London; and CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Seoul, South Korea.

Paula, want to start with you. What are we learning at this moment?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Phil and Poppy, what we are hearing is from South Korean media reports at that point, that they believe that Kim Jong-un is in his armored train. And he is on his way Northeast towards Russia.

Now, at this point, neither side, as you say, has actually confirmed whether or not this is the case. We are also just hearing from Russian state media that Vladimir Putin has arrived in Vladivostok for that Eastern economic forum which is being held there to the Eastern side of Russia, which is where Kim Jong-un is believed to be heading.

Now, this is a meeting that neither Washington nor Seoul want to happen, but it is one that they have both predicted. We have been hearing in recent days that U.S. officials, backed up by South Korean intelligence, as well, believe that there are actively working towards an arms deal for North Korea to be able to provide Russia with much- needed ammunition, for example, or small arms. Something that North Korea has great production capability for.

In return, of course, we're hearing from U.S. officials that Russia could give North Korea some core nuclear and missile technology.

So this is clearly a meeting that neither side, Washington nor Seoul, want to see happening.

It was 2019, the last time that these two leaders met. The first time they met, as well, when Kim Jong-un went to visit with -- with Vladimir Putin.

Now, at that time, there were no significant announcements towards a closer relationship. But certainly, in recent months, we have seen that change.

The Russian defense minister, for example, back in July, went to Pyongyang and was given the red-carpet treatment, surrounded by a military parade and an arms expo. North Korea showing off its military capabilities.

HARLOW: You know, Nic, we -- we heard Kim Jong-un over the weekend in this marking of the 75th anniversary of the nation, talking about deepening ties between it and Russia and it and China. Can you just talk to the big-picture significance of what would be this meeting between Putin and Kim Jong-un for the world?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It would be significant, because it potentially means the war in Ukraine goes on a lot longer, because what President Putin needs right now is more weapons and more ammunition, because they're getting used up in Ukraine. It's a war of attrition.

And if he wants to win, he's already got his -- he's already got his factories working 24/7, in some cases, producing weapons. North Korea uses the same type of weapons systems and could be a ready and useful supplier, connected to Russia by land.

So the implication is that this could help extend the war in Ukraine, if Putin is going to follow up on his defense minister's trip to North Korea, which did seem to be about expanding cooperation in the field of armaments.

But we heard just last week from Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, saying that -- that Russia was going to continue its relationship with North Korea, regardless of what other countries think.

So this is a potential of concern, because not just what North Korea gets -- not just what Russia gets, that is, but what North Korea may get in terms of technology to help it launch satellites successfully. Technology to help it build successful nuclear-capable submarines.

This is the sort of unintended fall-out of the war in Ukraine. You have these relationships deepening, as Russia says, it intends to do. The content of that deepening, we don't have full visibility on.

MATTINGLY: Yes. It's the scale of the technological transfer, I think, that really worries, long-term, at least, Western officials at this point.

Paula, Nic, we'll be watching this throughout the course of the morning. Thank you, guys.

HARLOW: Of course we also want to update you on what's happening in Morocco this morning. The critical 72-hour window to rescue survivors, that windows is closing fast. More than 2,100 people are already confirmed dead.

And right now, search teams are in a race against time to try to save survivors who may still be trapped in the widespread devastation nearly three days after the catastrophic quake.

Take a look at this brand-new video from our team on the ground. The situation is especially dire in remote mountain villages like this one that have been utterly flattened. Desperate families have been left stranded without food, water, medicine.

Roads have been completely blocked by these landslides. These photos show a mountain village that has been almost entirely wiped out. More than 100 families have lived here, and now it is just a pile of rubble.

Our international correspondent, Sam Kylie, visited a hard-hit village in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Watch.


SAM KYLIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another victim buried. Returned to the earth that killed when it shook.

More than 2,000 people perished in the worst Moroccan earthquake in over 100 years. Most of the deaths were in villages in the Atlas Mountains, where homes cracked and crumbled late on Friday night.

KILEY: The pancaking of these buildings down a side street here in Moulay Brahim killed 25 people. Three of four are still missing, believed buried in the rubble.

And this is a pattern that has been repeated throughout this province. And it looks very often like there's been some kind of air strike. The collapsing buildings here actually leaving holes as if they've been hit by Russian bombs in Ukraine.

But this has been an all-too natural disaster.

KILEY (voice-over): At least three elderly people have been entombed here in the remains of their hotel. And a fourth guest is missing.

After the quake, Sami called his parents for a day and a half. It rang out until the battery died, too.

SAMI SENSIS, PARENTS DIED IN EARTHQUAKE: I'm here, death, because I have lost two of my best things that I have in this life, my parents. My father and my mother, I have lost them here.

KILEY (voice-over): His grief turns to anger at the government, as it does for so many here.

SENSIS: They have no planification; only they have words. It's a balloon of words. Only that they have words. That's all.

KILEY (voice-over): Aid is arriving, but slowly. In Asni, nearby, authorities tell me that 27 people were killed in the quake. And 1,200 lost their homes.

KILEY: Turfatina (ph) and her husband has said that, when they were in the house, she was in the bath when this series of explosions broke out. They said there was no shaking of the ground. She's saying that it felt like a blast from a Kalashnikov automatic rifle that just was like a sense that the place had been hit by a war.

They had no idea that they were suffering from an earthquake. Luckily for them, they evacuated their family very rapidly. Nobody in their family was killed.

But in the village, there was -- 27 people were killed. The house is now abandoned.

But Fatima led a team of local women to find food and shelter for the homeless before any aid arrived. All the food here, the result of private donations.

Many villages here remain isolated, roads cut by landslides. Relief operations will focus on getting to them.

Firefighters consider searching for bodies beneath the hotel. Their conclusion is disappointing. Amidst shocks and shattered masonry, it's just too dangerous to rescue the dead. So for now, Sami's parents will stay buried where they are.


HARLOW: So much anguish this morning. Our Sam Kylie, thank you for that reporting -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Now we want to turn our attention back to the search for the escaped murderer, Danelo Cavalcante. It has expanded.

State police say he stole this dairy delivery van we're showing you right now from a West Chester farm, then abandoned it Sunday when it ran out of gas, apparently slipping past the police perimeter before heading North.


Officials say he's also changed his appearance from this to this. Shaving his beard, cutting his hair, now wearing new clothes. You see that hooded sweatshirt there.

shaving his beard, cutting his hair and now wearing new clothes. You see that hooded sweatshirt there.

CNN's Danny Freeman joins us live from Chester County, Pennsylvania. Danny, this is day 12. I believe you've been following this every single step of the way. Some very dramatic developments, though, over the course of the last 24 hours.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Phil. The last 24 hours and last 48 hours, I think that the best way to characterize this right now frankly is this weekend was a major setback in the manhunt for Danelo Cavalcante.

As you said, he slipped that police perimeter. He got his hands on a vehicle, and he's still on the loose, 12 days after escaping.


FREEMAN (voice-over): A convicted killer still on the run and still keeping police guessing. Pennsylvania State Police now say Cavalcante changed his appearance, shaving his face and wearing a green hooded sweatshirt.

The latest sighting, more than 20 miles from the Longwood Gardens area where police had focused their search. Cavalcante slipping through the law enforcement perimeter.

LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: I wish it had not happened. Unfortunately, there are a lot of circumstances. There are a lot of issues associated with that property. Tunnels, very large drainage ditches, things that could not be secured. You couple that with weather, aviation being down for a night.

FREEMAN (voice-over): Pennsylvania State Police said Cavalcante got away after stealing this 2020 white Ford transit van from a dairy farm Saturday evening. Authorities said the keys had been left inside.

BIVENS: This most recent incident is a reminder that he will take advantage of any opportunity to obtain items he needs.

FREEMAN (voice-over): Police said Cavalcante later abandoned the van in a field behind a barn. They believe it may have run out of gas.

But before that, police said Cavalcante attempted to meet with two possible acquaintances on Saturday night. One in East Pikeland around 9:52 p.m. And another in the area of Phoenixville at 10:07 p.m. According to police, no one responded to meet the 34-year-old fugitive.

But one of those people recorded Cavalcante's visit from a doorbell camera, giving officers a glimpse of his new appearance. BIVENS: We ask for the public's help by familiarizing themselves with

the updated photographs and description of Cavalcante; to check security cameras they have; and to call us immediately.

FREEMAN (voice-over): Twelve days ago, this was the inmate, who was caught on video, crab walking to get loose.

Authorities are urging people to secure their homes and vehicles, because they still believe Cavalcante is in Pennsylvania. With many encounters already reported and confirmed sightings, people in the surrounding areas are on edge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I will stay with my sister tonight, especially if they don't catch him. Just, you never know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to bring the National Guard out now. Enough is enough.


FREEMAN: Now Phil, the Pennsylvania State Police noted, but it's worth drilling down on it. The weather really has been challenging and will probably continue to post challenges for this manhunt. Police saying at some points this weekend, helicopters could not fly. Rain possibly expected today, as well -- Phil.


MATTINGLY: Yes. Weather combined with terrain and just a lot of unanswered questions. Danny Freeman, keep us posted. Thank you.

HARLOW: Well, President Biden just wrapped up his trip to Vietnam. He is on his way home. Well, right now, we've got the highlights of that major foreign trip ahead.

MATTINGLY: And Nikki Haley seized on a CNN poll that shows her as the strongest GOP presidential candidate to take on Biden. What she told our own Jake Tapper. That's next.


HARLOW: As the sun comes up here in New York City in just a few minutes, you're looking at live pictures of Ground Zero. This is the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, and President Biden will be marking the day from Alaska.

He is headed there now after his visits to India and Vietnam. This trip included the G-20 summit in New Delhi, where Biden made the case that the United States is a more reliable and trustworthy partner than China, but he also failed to unite the group around an explicit condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In Hanoi, he paid his respects to the late Senator John McCain. He visited a memorial near the shot where McCain was shot down by the North Vietnamese when he was a Navy lieutenant commander. That was in 1967. And during Biden's visit, Vietnam also elevated the U.S. to its highest level of diplomatic ties, a comprehensive, strategic partner. Biden acknowledging how far the relationship between the two nations has evolved since the Vietnam war.

We find our Jeremy Diamond, who has been reporting on the entirety of the president's trip, including that press conference yesterday, Jeremy. Good morning to you.

Writ large, is this considered a success for the Biden administration?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, the president and his team feel that it was. And there's no question that the president has left Hanoi, Vietnam, with a very real, very tangible agreement to elevate that relationship between the United States and Vietnam.

And it's a step that has not only significance for the bilateral relationship but really for the administration's broader China playbook.

It is the latest in a series of steps that we have seen President Biden and his administration taking over the last several months.

We have seen the president host the leader of the Philippines at the White House for the first time in over a decade; host the Indian prime minister for a state dinner; and have this very symbolic bilateral -- trilateral summit at Camp David with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.

All of those countries are China's neighbors, and all of those countries are united, if not by an outright sense of alarm about China's aggressive military and economic posture in the region, then at least by a serious sense of concern and a weariness about China's behavior.

And so that is the broader context within which this falls. And it is certainly significant for the broader geopolitical message. The president, though, yesterday even as he takes these actions, he wanted to send a very clear message to China, that all of these moves are not aimed at containing the country. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was less about containing China. I -- I don't want to contain China. I just want to make sure that we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up, squared away. But as I said, I'm not -- we're not looking to hurt China. Sincerely. We're all better off if China does well.



DIAMOND: And it's also very clear that there is more than just geopolitics at play here. The U.S./Vietnamese relationship today, we saw a $7.5 billion deal for Boeing and Vietnam Airways.

We also saw the president talk about expanding semiconductor chip production here in Vietnam.

The president also making a symbolic stop at the John McCain memorial here in Hanoi, tying together the really nearly half a century evolution of this relationship from the Vietnam War to today.

MATTINGLY: Well, Jeremy, obviously, a heavy focus on the Indo-Pacific but also Ukraine essential to any of these major summits. There was a difference in the language in the joint statement -- the G-20 joint statement this year, as it pertained to Russia and Ukraine, from last year. What actually happened there?

DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. Last year's statement, Phil, made very clear that most of the G-20 countries directly held Russia responsible for that invasion of Ukraine.

This year's statement did not include that language. And that language was carefully crafted over hundreds of hours of negotiations by diplomats from all these 19 countries, plus the European Union.

And ultimately, it was really a decision between whether to have any kind of joint leaders' statement or to simply not have one at all. And so, ultimately, the United States and other countries chose this more watered-down language in order for there to be some kind of joint statement that nonetheless does call out any attempts to grab sovereignty, to violate another country's territorial integrity by force.

And the United States, the national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, made this case very clearly just a couple of days ago, where he said that he believes that that strong statement about territorial integrity is significant, and significant because it also got a number of these developing countries that have really remained neutral in this conflict to sign on board to that.

The United States also didn't want India, which has hosted the summit, which put a lot of political capital into this summit, to face the embarrassment of not having a joint statement at all.

HARLOW: Quite a response from the Ukrainians, of course, to the lack of that language being in the communique this year. Jeremy Diamond, thanks for all your reporting throughout the weekend on this.

MATTINGLY: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley not mincing words about what she thinks of the current relationship -- Jeremy was just talking about it -- between the U.S. and China.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: China has been practically preparing for war with us for years. Yes, I view China as an enemy.

How much more has to happen for Biden to realize you don't send cabinet members over to China to appease them. You start getting serious with China and say we're not going to put up with it.


MATTINGLY: The former South Carolina governor also responding to a new CNN poll that shows her as the Republican candidate posing the greatest risk to President Biden. The poll shows Haley leading Biden by six points in a hypothetical general election matchup. Haley says it shows Americans are ready for change.


HALEY: I think the majority of Americans know we need a new generational leader, that we need to leave the negativity of the past behind us. The majority of Americans don't want to see a rematch between Trump and Biden. That's been very clear.


MATTINGLY: CNN's Eva McKend joins us now. And Eva, the generational argument has been one Governor Haley has been putting out since the first day of her campaign. It now seems like it's landing to some degree.

EVA MCKEND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning to you both. What we have seen Ambassador Haley do on the campaign trail in recent days is really seize on this CNN poll showing that, in a head-to-head matchup, she could possibly be best positioned to beat Biden.

She has made this argument about the need for a new generation of leadership central to her campaign. She maintains a majority of Americans just don't want to see this rematch between Trump and Biden.

And in recent days, I've also heard her double down on her hawkish foreign policy positions. I'm really curious to see if that resonates with primary voters. You know, sort of calling China the enemy.

Because what we've seen is that populism has gained momentum, gained momentum among conservative voters. And then many of them, if you speak to them, really reject this -- this pro-war, pro-involvement posture that we've heard Haley push.

She still lags far behind Trump in support among Republican voters, though -- Phil and poppy.

MATTINGLY: All right. Eva McKend, keeping an eye on the Haley camp. OK, thank you.

HARLOW: All right. Tennis great Novak Djokovic.

MATTINGLY: Poppy has thoughts.

HARLOW: I have many thoughts. It was an amazing night. No. 24, his 24th Grand Slam title. We have that and, oh by the way, I hope you didn't miss it this weekend. This was just amazing to watch. Coco Gauff's big win at the U.S. Open, next.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: U.S. Open champion, Novak Djokovic.


HARLOW: Novak Djokovic crowned the winner of the U.S. Open last night with the Serbian tennis great, or GOAT, clinching his 24th Grand Slam title. He holds the most titles in men's tennis history. And while he may be 36, he is not slowing down.

MATTINGLY: And I think it's important for ethical reasons to give full disclosure. Poppy is very biased on this.