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Cases Spike But Appear To Be Relatively Mild In South Africa; Jail Sentence For Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi Cut To Two Years; Announcement On Olympics And Russia Expected From Biden; Israeli Tech Firm's Software Used To Hack Department Phones; "Remain In Mexico" Border Program Restarts On Monday; Volcano Rescuers Dig Throughout Hot Ash In Indonesia; Iran Welcomes Top UAE Diplomat As Nuclear Talks Stall; Pope Francis Ends Trip To Greece. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 06, 2021 - 11:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN, Abu Dhabi, this is "CONNECT THE WORLD" with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: For those of you just joining us, a very warm welcome.

We are getting a mixed picture of the Omicron variant in South Africa where it was of course, first sequenced. On the one hand coronavirus cases have

spiked up fivefold in a week that's been driven by the variant. On the other, we're hearing most cases of most of those cases are relatively mild.

South African presidents message, don't panic and of course get vaccinated. U.S. President Biden's top medical advisor is cautiously hopeful. Have a



ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: Thus far, it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it. But we really got to be careful before we

make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn't cause any severe illness comparable to Delta. But thus far the signals are a bit

encouraging regarding the severity.


ANDERSON: And we are hearing that from experts in many places around the world. CNN's Larry Madowo, connecting us to the story from Johannesburg.

Ben Wedeman is in Rome, which is looking at new COVID restrictions today. And Ben I'll be with you momentarily.

South Africa's President, Larry has confirmed the Omicron variant is dominating new infections across the country. What else did we learn from

Cyril Ramaphosa?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Over the weekend, Becky, we learned that so far, the rate of hospitalization here in South Africa is not rising at

an alarming rate. That's what the President said. But he says still, the daily rate of infection has increased fivefold in just one week.

And the positivity rate is about 24% right now in South Africa, it was 2%, just two weeks ago. So that tells you how quickly the COVID-19 pandemic and

this latest variant has surged to the country because most of those cases are believed to be the Omicron variant. Many of them are centered right

here at Houghton province in Johannesburg, which is the epicenter of the outbreak right now.

But, some early indications also that this might be more transmissible but less severe, which means that even though the Omicron variant is easily

spread from one person to the other, it might not lead to severe disease, so not hospitalizations, and not death. And we know this because we have a

small slice of data from two hospitals, again here in Houghton province in South Africa.

This is where the Omicron variant was first detected. And they're seeing that in 70 -- 70% of the patients hospitalized, they do not need ventilator

support, they're not having breathing problems. And the age groups 30 to 39 are the majority of them, and 80% of them are under the age of 50.

ANDERSON: What's the story as far as vaccinations are concerned? The President is urging South Africans to get vaccinated. There's been a big


MADOWO: It is a big ask for the country to get everybody vaccinated. There has been some uptake, South Africa has a slightly higher vaccination rate

than its peers on the African continent, but not high enough to achieve herd immunity. And this hesitancy here because one pharmacists told me he

works at a hospital, he's seen the waves through the patients he's seeing.

And he said over the past 18 to 24 months, conspiracy theories and misinformation have won. And science has lost. And that's because there's

people who believe things they're seeing on Facebook, getting shared on WhatsApp, and they're just deciding not to get vaccinated.

One woman I spoke to told me, I'm only getting vaccinated because it is required to travel otherwise, I don't trust the vaccine.

ANDERSON: Stand by, I want to get to Ben. Several European countries Ben, are seeing a spike in COVID cases and this is also leading to new

restrictions in some nation. Just explain what Italy's latest move.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Italy has just as of today, imposed what is called a super green pass. Here it is, I

picked up mine today. This will actually allow you to continue to function normally because if you do not have a green pass or you cannot prove you

have recently recovered from COVID-19, you will be, you will not be allowed to enter bars, restaurants, cinemas, gyms, theaters, discos and stadiums.

And if you try to enter those, you will receive a fine starting at 400 euro and going up from that.


Now, Italy's rate of vaccination is actually one of Europe's better about 85% of the population over the age of 12 has been vaccinated, 77% of the

population vaccinated to some extent, or another. And what we've seen is that as these measures have gone into effect, the original green pass,

which restricted your access to work, and now this super green pass, we are seeing a fairly dramatic increase in the number of people getting


In fact, today, compared to a month ago, more than twice as many people are getting vaccinated. So, it is having an impact. Italy is hesitant to make

vaccines mandatory at this point, Becky, but it is trying to make life as uncomfortable as possible if you don't get vaccine. Becky.

ANDERSON: And Larry, South Africa hasn't changed its COVID protocols or restrictions of late. Given that the country has seen this spike in

infections, is there any evidence that that will change anytime soon?

MADOWO: There's a consideration here for a vaccine mandates making it mandatory for people to get vaccinated to access public service even though

that's opposed by the general public. The business community seems to be coalescing around it, because some of the largest South African companies

are now requiring all employees to get vaccinated or they will be fired.

Many of those are beginning in January. MTN, one of Africa's largest telecom companies has 14,000 employees in Africa will require all of them

to get vaccinated. Standard Bank, Old Mutual, Discovery these are some more South African companies that are also required their staff that they will

have to get vaccinated.

And that seems to be kind of a groundswell coming up that might then lead governments to think if the private sector is already doing it, maybe we

should do it for accessing regular government services for getting on public transport and stuff like that, because just encouraging people to

get vaccinated so far does not seem to be working as fast as authorities would like.

ANDERSON: Yes. Larry, Ben, thank you.

Moving on, and condemnation the world over it seems so for the jailing of Aung San Suu Kyi. The UN and Amnesty International amongst the loudest

voices a short time ago the jail sentence for Myanmar's deposed civilian leader was cut to two years according the military rules country had

originally sentenced Suu Kyi to four years in prison.

Now, she was found guilty as you all remember on charges of incitement and breaking COVID-19 rules. She's denied all those charges. Now, this is the

first ruling in numerous cases against a Nobel Peace Prize winner, since the military seized power back on February the first sentencing coming

after protests that reportedly turned deadly in Myanmar's biggest.

So, let's bring in CNN's Ivan Watson who's watching this story from Hong Kong. And you've been across this, this coup in the country, the arrest of

Aung San Suu Kyi for many, many months now. Amnesty International says in its words, the harsh sentences handed down to Aung San Suu Kyi on these

bogus charges are the latest example of the military's determination to eliminate all opposition and suffocate freedoms in Myanmar. We've just got

this ruling, we've just got this sentence reduced, but still two years, two years in prison.

What more pressure can the West, if any put on the (INAUDIBLE) at this point?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, yes, this has also been condemned by the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken,

who put out a statement by the UK Foreign Secretary. But there is not unity in the international community. China were said in a statement that it's a

friendly neighbor and, quote, sincerely hopes that all parties and factions in Myanmar will bear in mind the long term interests of the country in the

nation, but , you know, bridge differences.

But there isn't this kind of denunciation of the military regime coming from China and there is opposition to things like embargoes when it comes

to weapons and so on. There has been some criticism of the military regime coming a rare criticism from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,

ASEAN, which excluded a representative from the military regime to attend a recent summit.


But for the most part, there is still a general who has declared himself leader a military that is allegedly carrying around atrocities that has

been condemned for the detention of more than 10,000 of its political opponents since February 1st, and has been holding these elected leaders

not only Aung San Suu Kyi, but depose president of the country, incommunicado since February 1st, exposing them to these secret trials

which the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is called a sham trial in secret of proceedings.

She has been sentenced, while four years now it's reduced to two without a lot of explanation, but she still faces 10 more criminal charges. She's 76

years old. And if all goes forward, it could spend the rest of her life behind bars and certainly outside of the political sphere.

Now, Becky, what's happening to Aung San Suu Kyi is very different from what's happening on the ground where the country's descending into civil

war and complete economic collapse. Becky.

ANDERSON: Ivan Watson is in Hong Kong for you. Thank you, Ivan.

My next guest tweeting quote every day the peaceful people of Myanmar are being targeted with crimes against humanity. We've made urgent and frequent

requests for R2P. That's responsibility to protect and a no fly zone arms embargo, sanctions and recognition of the national unity government. But

most of these requests have been met with no results on the ground.

Dr. Sasa is the spokesperson for Myanmar's opposition government. He joins us now from an undisclosed location for security reasons.

And I want to start with this sentencing today. You said in a recent interview that Aung San Suu Kyi is suffering. What do you know today about

her condition?

DR. SASA, UNION MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: Nobody know the real situation of what she has been through. But the whole world know that there

is no rule of law. There is no justice. There's no accountability under the watch of this mantra in Chief General Min Aung Hlaing and his army in

Myanmar. Every day they are destroying our freedom, our democracy, our hope, and all of our dreams.

ANDERSON: What does arrest mean for the people of Myanmar specifically, you talk about the kind of wider atmosphere there? I mean, how concerned will

people be on the ground? What's the message here?

DR. SASA: The people of Myanmar have say enough is enough to this crime against humanity, this atrocities and is do or die, but the military junta

in Myanmar are trying to increase more fear, more pain, more suffering, more death, and more distractions by making all these show trials displays

for all the people of Myanmar to see this happen.

We just learned few hours ago that the military General Min Aung Hlaing have reduced a pardoned to move two years from the sentence a few hours

ago. And these military generals arrest illegally to Danny Fenster from U.S. journalist after sentencing him for 11 years, three days later, they

released him. So, all these justice, so called legal system is under one man's hand. That is Min Aung Hlaing himself.

ANDERSON: Well, let's be quite clear here. Aung San Suu Kyi's popularity inside Myanmar is very much divided while she is loved Bamars the ethnic

group that makes up the majority of the population, many others have soured on her during her five years in power -- of five years that saw the country

quite frankly descend into chaos. There will be those asking whether Myanmar shouldn't have a civilian leader who better represents everybody

inside its borders at least an opportunity. Should there be an end to this military junta at some point. How would you respond to that?

DR. SASA: Though our Aung San Suu Kyi, our state counselor and our president U Win Myint, they are democratically elected leader of Myanmar.

It is the military generals in Myanmar, who are trying to exclude them from the future political leadership in Myanmar. We are calling for inclusive

democratic society of Myanmar.


But these military generals in Myanmar have been using race as weapons, rape as weapon, religious as weapons, disease as a weapon not only bullets,

or bombs, or fighter jets, all those things they have been using as a weapon. And now they're using fear as weapon violence, widespread as


ANDERSON: You said recently, and I quote, we have no future with the military junta. If we do not overthrow them, we will all die. It's very


At present, there doesn't seem to be much effort or certainly much. The -- let me put another way the military junta is there. They're not going

anywhere at present is what I'm trying to say. So what happens next, what will happen in the country if the military junta doesn't move, doesn't

throw another election, doesn't accept the result, should a civilian government win the vote? What happens next? I want to get a real sense from

you of how concerned you are about where this country stands at present.

DR. SASA: Yes. Becky, when I say we have no future is true, really is true. The people of Myanmar have been living under these most brutal military

generals in the world for many, many decades. Now, this new generations have found themselves the older dreams, their hope of free, a democratic

society was taken away by one night. Military overthrow elect a leader of government of Myanmar, and that tried to replace with military dictatorship

to the people of Myanmar.

So, that they have no future with military dictatorship or authoritarianism. And our goal, roadmap is to totally eradicate military

dictatorship in all forms once for all, and have democratic (INAUDIBLE) constitution of Myanmar and thrive under new Myanmar, which is (INAUDIBLE)

Democratic Union of Myanmar for all the people of Myanmar, regardless of race, religious culture, ethnicity, color, gender, that's where our future

is, we have no future with them anymore.

ANDERSON: Sasa, good to have you on Thank you very much indeed in an important date. It's important to get your analyst -- analysis and insight

on this day. Thank you.

Well still to come, the United States where the message for two of its adversaries it's not playing games. A look at the diplomatic agenda for Joe

Biden at this point.

The White House also battling on the cyber warfare front there's been another hack involving familiar spy word developed by an Israeli tech


More than that, after this.



ANDERSON: Let's see (INADUIBLE) especially busy week for the U.S. President Joe Biden, diplomatic relations with Russia and China are in the spotlight

as Biden is expected to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics and possible new economic sanctions against Russia.

Virtual talks are scheduled for Tuesday between Mr. Biden and the Russian President Vladimir Putin, officials say those sanctions against Putin's

inner circle would be aimed at deterring a Russia from invading Ukraine after weeks of Russian build up troop build up at the border between the

two countries.

U.S. president said he's preparing a set of initiatives to make it more difficult for Vladimir Putin to quote, do what people are worried he may


Let's bring CNN's White House correspondent John Harwood, who joins me now with a look at what is a particularly busy agenda for the President,

although every week does seem to be consequential for this administration. By which Joe Biden means what John, what's the threat here with regard


JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far as we know, the administration is talking about a set of sanctions. And the question is how

severe those sanctions can be. Russia depends on the international financial system like every other country with a large economy.

And so, the prospect of for example, Russian energy companies being denied access to debt markets, or Russia being cut off from the international

financial system that processes credit card payments, that's something that would be a very grave step for the United States to take. European

countries threatened that earlier this year as Russia menaced Ukraine. Russia has said that it could be tantamount to an act of war.

So we don't know how much brinksmanship is going on, on both sides here. But certainly the Russians are positioning themselves to invade. Biden is

taking note of that and trying to deter them by saying grave steps will be taken. You could also have individual sanctions on members of Vladimir

Putin's inner circle. We just don't know how far President Biden and other Western allies are prepared to go.

ANDERSON: The U.S. China spat seems to develop on a daily basis, the latest move for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics by the U.S.

administration, that would mean that athletes would still compete. It's just that there wouldn't be any diplomats in present. China's straighten

strengthened countermeasures. Where's this going John?

HARWOOD: Don't know. You know, President Biden has made standing up to China confronting China, both economically and militarily competing with

them. He says he wants competition, not conflict, the core of his foreign policy when he's talked about demonstrating that democracies can function

in the 21st century when he makes arguments about passing his economic legislation. In Congress, he's talking about the United States being able

to compete with authoritarian regimes such as China.

The human rights concerns that the administration and other western countries around the world have raised have led the administration to this

step of a diplomatic boycott is not the most severe step you could take because you could keep U.S. athletes out and severely damaged the games.

But we don't simply know how China is going to respond. I think a diplomatic boycott somewhat easier for them to respond to because they can

simply ignore it.

But this is something that is continues to evolve. We've got issues of tariffs between the two countries and we've got the issues of Russia

menacing Taiwan and asserting its power in the Asia Pacific. So, pretty President Biden is trying to counter that.


ANDERSON: Fascinating. Beijing's response officials weren't invited anyway. There you go. We're not sure what those countermeasures will be aside from

that comment. John, thank you.

On another challenge for the Biden White House is the constant looming threat of cyber warfare a huge challenge. And the weekend, more concerns

were raised over hacking software developed by Israel. U.S. State Department employees in Africa this time victims in recent months have

spyware developed by technology firm, NSO Group.

That's according to a senior U.S. official and another source both familiar with the investigation. And it comes after the U.S. put NSO on a blacklist

accusing the firm of supplying foreign governments with spyware tools used to quote, maliciously target different groups such as journalists or

embassy workers.

I want to bring in CNN's Kylie Atwood to tell us how this story is developing. And this is your reporting. And this is on sources. Just tell

us what more we know at this point.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, there's about a dozen State Department officials, folks who work for U.S. embassies in the

African continent, whose iPhones were hacked by this Israeli software. This NSO Group's software called Pegasus. What this software allows those who

hack the devices to do is to eavesdrop on conversations, to collect documents that are on that iPhone.

Things that are very, very scary to U.S. State Department officials, even if those conversations aren't necessarily in the realm of classified or

very, very sensitive, it's still really noteworthy that someone could be listening in and collecting that information. Now, what the State

Department is trying to do right now, I'm told is investigate who exactly bought this software and who had access to this information that was hacked

from these iPhones.

Now, the State Department itself isn't commenting on what happened here. They said they can't confirm this situation. But they do note that one of

the things that is of top priority for this department is the security, the cybersecurity of their officials of all of their officials devices, of

course. So clearly, they are saying without saying that this is something that they are focused on.

And I think what is important here, the context, these hacking tools are not just useful for those who are going after human rights in many

countries around the world. But they are becoming a tool that are used more and more to challenge stability, to spy on folks. And that is something

that the Biden administration is really having to key in on here as these situations emerge.

Now, as you noted in your introduction, NSO Group was put on this commerce blacklist, which essentially means they aren't allowed to get any of the

technology coming from U.S. firms. But that doesn't mean that they don't have the capabilities to get into these phones when they are bought in

these countries. So State Department is looking into this, and what more we can learn we'll bring to you. Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. And NSO Group spokesperson said, the wants a firm learned of the incident, I just want to quote here, it -- and I quote, decided to

immediately terminate relevant customers access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations. And they went on to say, to this point, we

haven't received any information nor the phone numbers nor any indication that NSOs tools were used in the case.

On top of the independent investigation, NSA will cooperate with any relevant government authority and present the full information that we will

have. It's unclear who use the spyware to target the State Department, employees' phones, as you rightly pointed out.

You know, cyber warfare, ultimately, is at the heart of the U.S. administration's concerns about, you know, its employees and the country

going forward. Just how does this whole NSO story fit in?

ATWOOD: Well, I think if you look at the greater context, this is just one example that shines a light on how dangerous this cyber warfare can

actually be. Right? There are constant efforts to get into the State Department system. We know that that is well-known. But the fact that they

are able to get through these cyber hackers in some situations, that is the alarming piece.

And of course, when you look at the situation between the U.S. and Russia right now, the Biden administration has repeatedly said that they want a

stable and predictable relationship with Russia. But of course, Russia's hacking into things like the Colonial Pipeline, and the like, have made

that extremely challenging.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. Kylie was a pleasure. Thank you.

Well, coming up the Iran file front and center not just for the U.S. administration, but for many countries around the world.


Still ahead, Tehran's delicate diplomacy has hit posts high-level talks with a regional rival and takes a hard line at nuclear talks in Vienna. And

why a program once condemned by the current U.S. president is getting new law (ph) starting today.


ANDERSON: This is day one of the restart of the border program known as Remain in Mexico. This is a controversial policy that requires non-Mexican

migrants to wait in Mexico for their immigration hearing dates in the United States. Now, Joe Biden ended the campaign officially in June but a

court order by a judge in Texas revived it. Biden administration is appealing that court order.

CNN's Matt Rivers following this story closely joins us with details on what will be different this time around and what the critics have to say

about. Matt?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there will be some things that are different around this program as it relaunches, Becky, but I can tell you

that critics are not happy with it, you know, even with those changes. I think it's safe to say that if you would have told many of these critics in

the beginning of the Biden presidency that we'd be here talking about this program restarting, they might not have believed you initially.


RIVERS (voice-over): Remain in Mexico is back for now. The signature Trump era immigration policy which forced tens of thousands of people seeking

asylum in the U.S. to wait out their claims across the border in Mexico is set to be reinstated on Monday.


Trump held it up as an effective way to reduce illegal immigration, something then-presidential candidate Joe Biden hammered him for.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the first President in history of the United States of America. Does anybody seeking asylum has to

do it in another country? That's never happened before in America. They're shedding in squalor on the other side of the river.

RIVERS (voice-over): Well, Biden is now the second president on that list. Despite terminating the program after he became President, a federal judge

ruled over the summer. The administration broke federal law in doing so. The Supreme Court declined to reverse the decision. And after a new

agreement was reached this week with Mexico, the program kicks off once again Monday.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We also believe in following the law, and that's exactly what we're doing as there was a -- there was a

ruling that required us moving forward with implementation.

RIVERS (voice-over): Several changes have been made to the program according to U.S. officials. Migrants will be proactively asked if they

fear going to Mexico will aim to be processed within six months and categories of vulnerable people exempt will be expanded. But for critics,

the changes do nothing to alleviate their concerns.

KENNJI KIZUKA, HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: We see people today even who are already living in these terrible circumstances and yet more people will be returned

to these dangers.

RIVERS (voice-over): During the Trump administration, tent cities along the border spraying up, migrants waiting for their asylum hearings living in

squalid conditions, easy prey for the myriad criminal organizations operating at the border. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez says his concern

is that now the program is actually expanding, pointing to several examples in a statement saying in part, "By adding new nationalities to this policy,

applying Remain in Mexico border-wide and limiting access to counsel, the administration is going far beyond a good faith implementation of the

court's order."

For some migrants already living in Mexico, they say the conditions they're forced to wait in on the way north are terrible.

JEAN PIERRE, HAITIAN MIGRANT (through translation): We sleep badly. There are children here. I think that a migration authority should find another


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden once described the Remain in Mexico policy as dangerous, inhumane and goes against everything we stand for as a nation of

immigrants. So why is he keeping it?

PSAKI: He continues to stand by exactly those comments and statements. And the Secretary of Homeland Security put out a memorandum conveying we want

to end this program.

RIVERS (voice-over): In an October 29th memo, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the administration is still formally preparing to

end the program, saying it, "fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that individuals deserve under the law." But

Mayorkas says he can't cancel the program until the courts let him. It's unclear when that will happen.

And in the meantime, as we've seen in our reporting throughout the year, be it in Honduras or southern Mexico or the northern border, migrants are

going to keep coming. Only now, getting to the U.S. just got that much harder.


RIVERS: Now the Biden administration says it is committed to ending this program. They continue to appeal this ruling in the courts. But the fact of

the matter is, unless they get this overturned in the courts, this program is going to continue and migrants will continue to be forced to wait out

these legal proceedings here in Mexico. Becky?

ANDERSON: Matt Rivers is in Mexico Thank you.

Rescue workers in Indonesia are racing to find survivors after a major volcanic eruption in East Java. Digging through thickness of a hot ash

after Mount Semeru erupted on Saturday. At least 22 people are dead, dozens more injured.

Will Ripley has more on what is the devastation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Terror raining down from 12,000 feet in the shadow of Java Indonesia's tallest volcano. Once

bustling villages buried in ash.

HOSNIYA, LOCAL RESIDENT (through translation): At first I thought it was a bomb explosion and all of a sudden it was Mount Semeru erupting and spewing

volcanic ashes. Suddenly, it was all dark like it was going to destroy the Earth.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Mount Semeru's latest eruption turning a sleepy Saturday into a nightmare. Giant mushroom clouds of ash spewing into the

sky. Nearby villages, plunged into darkness.

More than 1,700 people forced to flee. Running from rivers of scathing hot mud called pyroclastic flows. The deadliest of all volcano hazards sweeping

victims away. Lost in the dense fast-moving flow of hardened lava, volcanic ash and hot gas.

BUNADI, LOCAL RESIDENT (through translation): Locals here thought it was just usual floods. We did not know it was hot mud. All of a sudden, the sky

turned dark, that's rains and hot smoke came. Thankfully, it was raining so we could breathe.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Homes, lives, livelihoods gone in a flash.


FADLY TAHA, LOCAL RESIDENT (through translation): It was less than 10 minutes while I was running away, I heard that my phone was buried with the

lava and only the roof was left. I had around 10 livestock that were also buried by lava. But I feel lucky that my family and I are safe now, because

the lava came all of a sudden.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The number of dead rising, many still missing. Dozens injured. Some covered in burns. Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, ordering

a rapid emergency response. Money and temporary housing. More manpower to search for survivors.

Rescuers desperately digging, sometimes with bare hands. Their search hampered by heavy wind and rain, damage to a crucial bridge, cutting off

some hard hit areas. Panicked relatives waiting at hospitals for good news that rarely comes. Volunteers facing danger, keep going.

LISWANDO, HEAD OF MT. SEMERU VOLCANO OBSERVATORY CENTER (through translation): The status of Mount Semeru is still at level two, which means

at this level, the people must be vigilant because the potential threat is still there.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Indonesia sits on the Ring of Fire. Eruptions are a part of life. But for those in the path of Mount Semeru's fury, this kind

of devastation turns life upside down.

Will Ripley, CNN.


ANDERSON: Well, still ahead tonight, Iran's political ambitions front and center this week pushing forward in one area holding firm in another. I

want to talk to the two regional experts about Tehran's latest diplomatic moves. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. It was a new -- renewal of Middle East relations between current adversaries. Let me explain. The UAE's National Security

Adviser welcomed by Iran's President in Tehran today. This is the first time the UAE has sent anything like as high-aid (ph) level delegation to

Iran since relations soured five years ago.

Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed visit follows his trip to Turkey in August. And the UAE's foreign ministers meeting with Syria's President in Damascus last

month. All part of what is an emerging strategy to reengage with regional rivals whilst promoting economic development. Well, this diplomatic flurry

comes as the Iran nuclear talks, of course, once again stall negotiators from the U.K., France and Germany saying Iran failed to present serious

opening proposals in Vienna at those talks.


Well, there's a lot to unwrap here. Let's talk about it with Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, he's a Political Science Professor at the United Arab Emirates

University. He's in Dubai this evening for you. And Ali Vaez, who is Iran Project Director for the International Crisis Group joining us tonight via

Skype from Brussels. Good to have you both. I want you to try and keep your answers as tight as possible, because we've got a lot to get through.

Abdulkhaleq, let's start with you. If an image tells 1,000 words, what's the message here in the scenes that we see between Iran and the UAE's

National Security Advisers and between Sheikh Tahnoon and indeed the president? What's going on here? And just how significant is this meeting?

ABDULKHALEQ ABDULLA, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UAE UNIVERSITY: This is very big, this is very serious. I think we are in for a whole new era in

UAE-Iran relationship probably in the history of Middle East decades. So it is very serious. It's very big.

And I think the UAE is leading the way, is trying to engage Iran just as it try to engage Turkey. And I think the UAE is taking the lead, not just

towards Iran and Turkey, but towards Syria, and Israel and everybody else. And it wants to be friends to everybody.

ANDERSON: Let's stick with the Iran file just for the moment. Ali, your thoughts as we look at these images?

ALI VAEZ, IRAN PROJECT DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: Becky, I agree with with Abdulkhaleq but, you know, it -- UAE is pursuing zero problems

with neighbor's policy. But the Iranian administration, the Raisi government seems to believe that it is possible to simultaneously engage in

escalation with the West over its nuclear program and de-escalation with its neighbors. And I don't think that's a realistic prospect.

There is a degree to which you can de-escalate as the Emiratis, in fact, did after the attacks on the Port of Fujairah in 2019. They open channels

of communication, and basically got themselves out of the line of fire during the tensions that we saw in the final years of the Trump

administration. But they never move towards normalization. And there is a limit to how far they can actually develop political or economic relations

if Iran and the West remains -- remain at daggers drawn.

ANDERSON: Abdulkhaleq, last hour, I spoke to the former head of the Iran branch in the Israeli Military Intelligence Research and Analysis Division.

And he called this meeting extraordinary. He agreed with both. Here's what else he had to say.


DANNY CTRINOWICZ, SENIOR FELLOW, REICHMAN UNIV. INSTITUTE FOR POLICY AND STRATEGY: In terms of Israel, I think it's extremely important meaning as

well. I think that there is a notion in Israel regarding the -- how to explode or to use the Abraham Accords to build some sort of original NATO.

Now, I think still that the UAE and Israel see eye-to-eye regarding the threat coming from Iran.

But I think they have a new approach how to deal with it, other different approach. Meaning, that is we're looking for threatening or putting maximum

pressure on Iran, while the UAE will seek how to build some sort of economical relations with Tehran, and thus, defusing the tension between

the both countries.


ANDERSON: But it's interesting, isn't it? Because whilst UAE has taken a different approach, we hear from Naftali Bennett last week, Abdulkhaleq,

that these talks should stop, that the U.S. and and the European should pull out of these tools because they're going nowhere. Look, the UAE has

made it clear its foreign files must serve its economic needs, and its decisions are made on the basis of what is good for the country. Its

national sovereignty and to the detriment of other things.

Does this mean -- does this -- does extending this hand to Iran at present align, for example, with the UAE's position with regard Israel and its

Abraham Accords?

ABDULLA: Becky, I think, when we get close to Iran, Israel probably gets upset. And when we get close to Israel, Iran gets upset, OK? So that's

something that we had just have to live with it. But this is, as you just said, this comes out of our own national interest. UAE's national interest

is at stake. And this is what is driving us.

It's not Washington. It's not the talk in Vienna. It's not what Iran wishes. It's not what Israel wishes. It is just something that the UAE has

decided to do. It wants to turn the enemies of yesterday, friends of today and tomorrow. It's not going to be easy.

We are not naive about about Tehran. Iran is still a constant threat to Gulf security. But it's better to engage Iran rather than having it like an

enemy and be in conflict with Iran, as we have been for the past almost 10 years in Yemen, in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Syria, all over the place. I think

time has come to start the new pages. UAE taking the lead as Ali said.

And taking the lead is not easy. Taking the lead means you generate a lot of controversy. Some like it, some don't like it. But whether people like

it or not, we are in to this and we are serious about it.


ANDERSON: No, it's the consequence -- it's the impact and consequence, isn't it? That's important here.

Danny also, Ali Vaez, said earlier that he believed that there was a possibility that that the UAE's Interior -- National Security Adviser might

be taking a message from the U.S. Of course, they are not in direct talks with the Iranians at present. And there's a potential that he certainly was

passing on a message.

This meeting, of course, comes amid these talks in Vienna. It might be the seventh round. Certainly from the west point of view, you know, the -- it's

not looking good. A lot of bluster potentially from the Raisi administration. But where do you genuinely think we are, and how close or

far away from making a deal is P5 plus 1?

VAEZ: Look, I do believe that the next round, eighth rounds of negotiations is probably the most consequential one because the -- during the last

round, obviously, diplomatic momentum was lost. And this was an opportunity for the Iranian -- a new Iranian negotiating team to present their opening

salvo which was quite maximalist. And the expectation is that the next round, they would come back with a more balanced offer.

Otherwise, I expect that as of late December, both sides would engage in the process of mutual escalation. In fact, Iranians are already engaged in

that process by advancing their nuclear program in an exponential manner. But I do believe that the U.S. would also start considering issuing a

censure resolution against Iran at the IAEA's Board of Governors, and even start doubling down on enforcement of its existing sanctions.

And as of early next year, we might be in a world that the Europeans have snapback their own sanctions, and the U.N. sanctions have been snapped back

by the Europeans as well. So we can get into a phase of confrontation very quickly. And that's why I do believe that there is a ceiling to how much

Iran and its neighbors can improve the relations in the absence of the JCPOA.

ANDERSON: Yes. And the Americans have been asking the regions put together their own security architecture (ph), and do their own work in this region

and not rely on the Americans going forward. And there's much talk that American influence is really on the wane in this region.

Abdulkhaleq, finally, this region does not need another escalation to Ali's point. So you can see what the UAE has to gain should these talks prove

fruitful. But if they don't, and the states is talking about a plan B, at this point, you know, where does the UAE and this region stand?

ADBULLA: When we used to Iran being the constant threat to Gulf security. Iran has already nuclearized Gulf security, it has misaligned Gulf

security, drownized (ph) Gulf security, so that's not going to go away anytime soon. That's number one.

Second, Becky, we are still in the first five minutes. We are in the testing ground. We are trying to build confidence building here. And if

Iran respond, so be it. And this is very difficult and has been very difficult to deal with Iran, to understand Iran. But we are trying our

best. And let's just hope that the Iranian reciprocate.

ANDERSON: To both of you, it's been a pleasure having you on. We will have you back. This is, as you say, we're in the first five minutes here,

Abdulkhaleq, so it's important to have you and Ali. It's always a pleasure. Thank you very much indeed.

Pope Francis leaves Greece after some very tough talk on how the world's governments are handling the migrant crisis. What he said about

exploitation for political gain is up next.



ANDERSON: Well, before we close out this hour, I want to take you to Athens in Greece where Pope Francis has just wrapped up a trip. While he was

there, he called out countries in Europe for ignoring the migrant crisis. He visited a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on Sunday.

The tiny island has become a symbol of the migrant crisis. More than 2,000 refugees live in storage containers at the camp. Many are from Syria, Iraq,

and Afghanistan. During his visit, Francis said other countries have to stop closing their borders to refugees and passing the issue on to others.

Well, thank you for watching wherever you are in the world. It's very good evening in the team here in Abu Dhabi and those working with us around the

world. One World with Zain Asher is up.