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Many Palestinians Welcomed Biden's Victory Over Trump; Israel gives Biden Presidential Medal of Honor; Biden to Make a Controversial Visit to Saudi Arabia; U.S. President Biden to Meet with Saudi officials in Jeddah; Russian Missile Strike Kills At Least 22 in Central Ukraine; U.S. President Joe Biden's Middle East Tour; Sri Lankan President Formally Resigns, PM to Take Over. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired July 14, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST: Welcome back to "Connect the World". We're live for you in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Awaiting the U.S. president's arrival
after what has been a stretch of frosty relations with a longtime ally.
I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World". The U.S. President Joe Biden and the Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid
agree that Iran should not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon, but they don't agree on the best way to prevent it.
The pair signed a new joint declaration to expand the security relationship between the U.S. and Israel on what is Joe Biden's first leg of his Middle
East trip path towards each address their concerns about Iran's nuclear program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Today, you and I also discussed America's commitment to ensuring Iran never obtains a nuclear
weapon. This is a vital security interest to both Israel and the United States. And I would add for the rest of the world as well.
I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome. Words will not stop them, Mr. President, diplomacy will not stop
them. The only thing that will stop Iran knows that if they continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the U.S. President is meeting today with Israeli leaders. Tomorrow he'll meet with Palestinian leaders and then he'll travel here to
Jeddah to meet with Saudi leaders and on Saturday, leaders from the GCC plus Egypt, Israel and Jordan.
CNN's correspondent based in Jerusalem is Hadas Gold joining me live right now. And as you and I speak, Hadas we are watching pictures of a ceremony
where Israeli President Isaac Hertzog will give you as President Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Honor.
Let's just bring those pictures up there, much warmth between Biden and the Israelis during this visit, less so it seems - with the Palestinians Hadas.
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, so far for this visit, the Israelis are hearing a lot of what they want to hear from President Biden.
You know, from the moment when he was on the tarmac, making his remarks saying things like you don't need to be a Jew to be a Zionist saying that
he has a bone deep support for Israel for its security, signing, what they're calling the Jerusalem declaration, just its name by itself a sign.
And even said it explicitly that America is still recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, one of the Trump Administration moves. These are all
things that Israel wants to hear that the Americans also saying this is about the state to state relationship that it goes beyond whoever's in
power, whatever the internal political dynamics are going on, that it's a state to state relationship.
Because of course, Prime Minister Yair Lapid has only been Prime Minister for all of two weeks and he's the caretaker Prime Minister, before
elections are being held.
As you know, right now we are seeing President Biden alongside the Israeli President Isaac Hertzog, President Biden will receive the Israeli
Presidential Medal of Honor. This is the highest honor in Israel, it's been given to people like Angela Merkel and --.
So it's clearly a show of sort of the warmth and the depth of relationship between the two. President Biden often likes to say that he has been a
lifelong supporter of Israel that he has met every Israeli prime minister since golden mate year.
This is his 10th time to the region. But as you noted one thing that we haven't been hearing much of over the last day and a half or so is any sort
of real progress towards a two state solution with the Palestinians a peace process with the Palestinians.
President Biden once again reaffirmed his support for a two state solution, but he himself acknowledged that he understands it's likely not going to
happen in the near future.
I should note that it's also notable that Prime Minister Yair Lapid also noted his support for the two state solutions, which is a change, a change
with this new prime minister. But for most Palestinians, and for much, especially the everyday Palestinians, there's a lot of disappointed
disappointment and what they see are unfulfilled promises from the Biden Administration.
GOLD (voice over): Five years ago on his last visit to the White House; the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a rare venture into
English. Several months later that hope proved to have been terribly misplaced.
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
GOLD (voice over): Under Donald Trump U.S. policy tilted heavily towards Israel. The Palestinian political office in Washington was closed.
GOLD (voice over): The American consulate in Jerusalem, which symbolizes to U.S. Palestinian relations also closed and almost all economic aid to the
Palestinians was switched off.
So when Joe Biden won the election, there was great relief among many in the Palestinian community. But that relief has little to show in terms of
action. The Biden Administration highlights renewed financing, about half a billion dollars mostly on schools, hospitals, and other humanitarian aid
Further $100 million is set to be announced on this trip, including some money for Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem. But politically, the
White House seems unwilling to pressure Israel over continued expansion of West Bank settlements and weak in the face of Israel's resistance over
plans to reopen the consulate in Jerusalem. Hussein Sheikh is one of Abba's closest aides.
HUSSEIN SHEIKH, SECRETARY-GENERAL, PLO EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: The U.S. administration has been talking with us about these issues for more than a
year, but nothing has been achieved. Even so we continue to hope this visit will produce serious outcomes that it provides hope and a political
GOLD (voice over): Biden's visit to the West Bank will take him not to Ramallah the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, but to Bethlehem
just a few miles south of Jerusalem, where the president will find it hard to avoid stark reminders of the conflict.
GOLD (on camera): One issue that will likely be staring President Biden right in the face the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, this giant mural of the
Al Jazeera journalist is right on the road you take as you enter Bethlehem.
GOLD (voice over): For many here, the U.S. response to the death of the Palestinian American reporter shot dead, while covering an Israeli military
operation has been inadequate. And indicative, they believe of the U.S.'s unwillingness to force Israel to get serious about peace and bringing an
end to occupation.
LINA ABU AKLEH, NIECE OF SHIREEN ABU AKLEH: Putting an end to this injustice, putting an end to this impunity is important because it sheds
light. It continues to shed light on the greater picture of what Palestinians continue to endure on daily basis.
GOLD (voice over): From the Palestinian perspective, the overwhelming feeling around the President's visit is one of pessimism.
GOLD: Becky, tomorrow, President Biden will head to Bethlehem or who he will meet with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. And I
think it will be really interesting to see what the tone with the body language is like between the two leaders.
We'll be also watching to see Becky whether they issue some sort of joint statement whether the two sides have come to an agreement on the substance
of a joint statement or whether the two leaders will issue separate statements.
I think that will tell us a lot about how the Palestinians right now feel about the Biden Administration, Becky.
ANDERSON: Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem. As is President Biden, let's just listen in. He is with the Israeli President, Isaac Hertzog.
BIDEN: --all of you and you know that my love for Israel is deep rooted. I was raised, as we say, you say by a righteous Christian, my dad, and I've
had the honor, it's hard to say these words for over 50 years.
It can't be that long. But it's over 50 years and the federal government helping build the relationship. I think years ago, we've never had this -
before. We're not having this audience out here.
And so many people representing so many different nations and faiths as well and it's important. And you know, seeing Israel thrive, seeing the
wildest dreams of Israel's founding fathers and mothers growing the reality that Israel children enjoyed the day, to me is as close to morality.
You're always - in the Catholic Church, a hymn that based on that one of the songs and it says, maybe raise you up on eagle's wings and bury you on
the breath of dawn.
Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand? Well, every time I've come over these years, thank God, God seems to be holding us in
the palm of his hand, because we get stronger, not weaker.
And to me, it's pretty miraculous. The Torah tells a story in the prophet who described the ancient Israelis, as the people that dwell alone in the
Torah portion that will be read and services across the United States this week.
You know, I know President Herzog that your uncle also wrote a book with that title. But as I look out, and as proud, strong Israelis in the
audience, at the nation that made the desert bloom and built the Iron Dome, I see people who are growing more secure, more integrated, more confident
and more greater relationships with our neighbors, a nation that has forged peace before and can do it again.
BIDEN: And the nation that will never dwell alone, because as long as the United States you will never ever be alone.
And as you know there's still so much more work to be done, that's why America's commitment, Israel security remains ironclad. Today and in the
future, that commitment is not about me or any other American president.
It springs from a deep affinity and enduring connection between our peoples. And is our responsibility as leaders to nurture that bond, to
ensure that it grows stronger, deeper and broader as we navigate the challenges ahead, and they will continue to be profound, and they will
And as the leader, I can say, without hesitation, that being known as the friend of Israel, and receiving this award today is among the greatest
honors of my career. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
ANDERSON: All right, Joe Biden being given the Presidential Medal of Honor by the Israeli president. After that leg, of course, Mr. Biden is on his
way here to Saudi Arabia.
And he's looking for a reset with the kingdom after ties have reached a low point it has to be said. My next guest writing the Wall Street Journal says
and I quote, "Driving the shift towards a more traditional U.S. Middle East strategy, in part is the impact of high energy prices on U.S. inflation
rates, which is proving a significant political liability.
For Mr. Biden, Stephen Kalin is a Middle East Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, and he's here with me now, in Jeddah. These are interesting
times because to all intents and purposes, the Saudis hold an awful lot of cards, don't they, when it comes to the relationship with the - with
Washington at present?
STEPHEN KALIN, MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Especially in terms of energy, and I think the President has been reminded that, you
know, Saudi Arabia is the producer with the biggest spare capacity. And at a time where oil prices went up, over $140, briefly earlier this year,
inflation is rising back home.
He's come to Saudi Arabia, hoping that in tandem with maybe a few of the other producers, they can get some relief on oil prices and gas prices. I
don't think anything's likely during this weekend, the White House has been sort of lowering expectations for an immediate decision on this. But it
seems like there could be something coming in the coming months.
ANDERSON: I was interested to know that we are hearing energy security is the buzzword. The president of the UAE yesterday, and I didn't address to
the nation, which is actually the first as far as I can remember talking about being a reliable partner for the world in energy security.
It seems to me that it's less about oil production. Can we pump? Should we pump more in the short term and about the kind of wider story of energy
security going forward, correct?
KALIN: That's right and energy stability and price stability, this is something that the Saudis have always been pushing for because it's key to
their integral to their economy, as much as they're trying to diversify away from oil.
The price of oil still does impact the Saudi budget. So they want to see stable prices. They want to see stable consumption and predictability. At
the moment, one of the things that are holding the Saudis back from pumping more oil is this, this year's long deal with Russia and other producers
OPEC plus, to keep oil production at a certain level.
And they're really putting a lot of effort and energy into that. And they're not really interested in walking away from it right now.
ANDERSON: This is a very different region that the U.S. president will be coming to, not least because a number of Arab countries have normalized
relations with Israel.
Joe Biden wants to see more of that he specifically wants to see, and he's making no bones about it. Normalization with Saudi Arabia, is that likely?
KALIN: It's not likely, it's not in the offing right now. I think the Saudis are also interested in that. They have made it clear that the
standard sort of the requirement the prerequisite for that hasn't changed for them.
And that is a solution to the Palestinian issue. They haven't backed off of that. But there is more interest there. Like some of my colleagues reported
a couple of weeks ago, about a meeting in Egypt is where Israelis participated with members of other Arab states that are going to be here
tomorrow or on Saturday.
And so there is an interest in working more closely with Israel, especially against the threat from Iran.
ANDERSON: From the perspective of the Gulf and other Middle Eastern countries, I wonder what you believe Washington brings to the table at this
point because we are already seeing a de escalation of tensions you and I live in this region.
We are well aware that a number of the regional heavyweights not least the UAE for example are talking about regional de escalation of tensions, the
bolstering of regional ties we are seeing there not just on an economic front, but on the security front as well.
ANDERSON: And the emergence for example of, of a mini quad in the U.S., India, Israel and the UAE, it's a fascinating time. And to a certain
extent, for some months now, there's been this argument that goes; do we really need Washington and all of this?
You know, I said on China big market for the likes of the UAE and the Saudis, I call Russia, as a friend we're talking about before, before the
invasion of Ukraine. So I just want to, what do you believe the Middle East wants to hear from Washington on this trip?
KALIN: I think they're looking to hear a vision from the President. I think that's what he plans to present on Saturday to the summit of, of nine, our
leaders. But a lot of what you're describing, I mean, normalization with Israel, also repairing ties between Turkey and the UAE, Turkey and Egypt, a
number of rivalries that have been sort of walked back from the edge in the last year or two.
A lot of that has to do, I mean, some of that is individual initiatives from these countries. But a lot of it is these countries feeling,
especially in the last few years with the withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer.
But more broadly over the past 15, 20 years, they're feeling this ebb and flow of U.S. politics, which is felt here in the region, you know, when
they're questioning the U.S. commitment to the region, are they always going to be a reliable partner.
And when they see once, twice, three times that they can't really rely on us the way they used to be able to, they start to look to other partners.
And they start to look to each other and saying, maybe we need to take care of our issues together.
ANDERSON: The U.S. president comes to a country which is evolving rapidly under the stewardship of the de facto leader here, the Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman. The price of oil helps for him to be able to deliver on his vision 2030, which is very, very, very ambitious.
But we see so much of that happening around us here. And the push to support other countries around the region, who are suffering at present, be
that Egypt, or Jordan, Lebanon, Syria. Just how significant a power player is the kingdom here under de facto leadership of MBS?
KALIN: Well, I mean, Saudi Arabia has always been quite a significant player, but it's for many, many years, was sort of looking in on itself and
not really open to the world.
Now it's trying to look more outside its borders, to invite tourists and to relax some of the cultural and social norms that make it easier to live
here. They've made some significant progress; they still have a long way to go.
And one of the issues, obviously, that that the president is being pressured to raise here is that the human rights concerns that have not
improved. So it's sort of a mixed bag. But largely, Saudi Arabia has been changed, you know, evolving and changing.
And we're seeing a lot of cultural production, for example, that's now being exported out to the region. Egypt used to be a major hub for Arab
language production, and a lot of that's now happening in Saudi Arabia. So as well as economic power, it's now looking more like a political and
ANDERSON: Donald Trump always talked about the opportunity from the oil money that would flow into the American economy. I mean, how much will Joe
Biden be looking to take advantage of Saudi investment?
KALIN: Well, I think that's, that's always been true, and it hasn't really changed and Saudis are big investors in a range of assets in the U.S. One
thing that I've noticed the difference between this trip and President Trump's trip five years ago was that at that time, there was a U.S. Saudi's
CEO business council meeting.
There was a lot of emphasis and of course, President Trump was always talking about how much the Saudis were investing in economy buying weapons
from the U.S.
President Biden isn't doing that, he's here for a relatively brief period of time or on 24 hours, and he's going to have a meeting with the Saudi
leadership. And then he's trying to put the emphasis on this summit tomorrow with the Arab leaders.
ANDERSON: Yes, Saturday, certainly --. It's nice to have you, thank you very much indeed.
KALIN: Thank you so much.
ANDERSON: Well, earlier I talked with John Kirby of the National Security Council at the White House. I asked him, if President Biden's staff is
worried about how the visit to Saudi Arabia will play back in the United States, here's the answer to that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, U.S. NATIONAL SECUTIRY COUNCIL: The President is looking forward to his trip to Saudi
Arabia here in the next day or so. There's an awful lot on the agenda, Becky. You talked about a bilateral discussion and there will be with King
Salman and his leadership team which of course includes the crown prince.
And then there'll be a full day on Saturday in the context of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus three. And my goodness, between those two sets of
meetings, there's an awful lot of ground to cover. The President is looking forward to having a discussion here with nine leaders in the region nine
state leaders on things as diverse as counterterrorism.
KIRBY: The threat of Iran, which you and I have just been talking about, the continued ceasefire in Yemen and seeing that that gets continued and
that we've had the longest now period of peace in Yemen that we've had in seven years.
So literally thousands of Yemeni lives have probably been saved by the stoppage of the conflict there and there's a there's a robust agenda. The
president will greet these leaders, all of them in the same way that he's been greeting leaders around the world.
And he's looking forward to a robust agenda. And his focus is not on the greetings themselves. His focus is on the actual agenda and the topics that
have to be furthered and discussed in Saudi Arabia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, we do a deep dive on all the biggest stories and trends out of the Middle East that is in the newsletter. Meanwhile, in the Middle
East, and you can subscribe to that, that web address is there for you on your screen just enter your email address.
All right, coming up devastation in central Ukraine, the death toll keeps rising after Russian cruise missiles destroy dozens of buildings and leave
a pile of mangled cars in the streets. We're live on the ground with the latest for you.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. We're live from Jeddah for you and we have a lot more on President Biden's historic trip to this region in just a little
while. First, I do want to get you up to speed on our other top stories around the world.
And Ukraine says Russian cruise missiles launched from submarines in the Black Sea have destroyed dozens of buildings and cars in the central
Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia.
At least 22 people were killed in that attack. Three children are among them. Dozens of people were injured and are missing. And in the south --the
city of Mykolaiv is under an intense barrage of Russian missiles as well as school and other residential buildings. We're here with Scott McLean
joining us live from Vinnytsia. Just describe what you are seeing there, Scott.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, we've had a chance to be on the scene here for about an hour or an hour and a half. And I'll just show you
around quickly. So there's a street car here out on the main road.
This is not close to where the one of the missiles actually struck and yet all the windows of that street car are completely blown out. Let me show
you the rest of the scene. They're starting to remove cars from this area that were burnt out; I'll show you that in a second.
MCLEAN: Even across the street, there are stores that are completely the window fronts completely blown out. These are some firefighters who would
have been on the scene for an entire day.
We'll have to get out of the way, because obviously, there's a truck here, crane here that's trying to move, this is a very active site. What's odd
here, Becky is that we've essentially been given free rein to wander wherever we want, which is unusual in any domestic kind of situation.
Clearly, the Ukrainians want the world to see exactly what happened here up close and in detail. We can show you inside of this building. It's called
the House of officers. But it is actually a concert hall.
It's a concert venue, we understand that there was a concert scheduled for this evening it was in use, and Vinnytsia is nowhere near the front lines.
So civilian activities are still very much taking place.
There is an absolute swarm of activity here. It's remarkable just how many officials here from fire from police from territorial defense from the
military are here trying to put out the last bits of hotspots.
Let me just show you here, Becky, quickly, if you see, this is where one of the impacts sights was of the missile, it took a direct hit on the building
is what we're told. And so you can only imagine what it looks like inside considering what it looks like outside.
The entire the entirety of the roof is completely gone. The middle floor looks like it's completely gone. And so that bomb would have very likely
penetrated down to the lowest floor of this building before it detonated.
And you can just, I mean, it's terrifying to think of the force that would have done this kind of damage. Let me show you one of the thing, if I can
here, quickly, Becky. This here, this is the other impact site.
And so you can see over here, all of these other burnt out cars would have caught fire quite quickly because of the force of the explosion. And so
this is where, so I don't' want to get run over here.
This is where one of the missiles would have actually landed. And I just want to come down in here just to give you a like a bit of scale here to
show you just how big this crater actually is. Remember, this is not dirt.
This is a concrete, asphalt parking lot. And you can imagine how much force you would need to create a hole this big. You can see even all the scarring
on the pavement here as well from all the shrapnel shooting up at this building here.
I'll just give you a better angle here, if I can. You can see from the very top floor, it's maybe eight or 10 storey building, every single window that
I can tell at least is completely blown out.
What likely saved a lot of people's lives is the fact that there's a concrete wall there that looks like it has only a few small pock marks from
the shrapnel clearly this, this, this section of the building that's burnt out would have sheltered a lot of the rest of the building from the blasts.
We spoke to one woman who was on the fourth floor at the time of the blast. She doesn't have a single scratch on her end, she did not seek shelter, she
did not go down to the basement or anything like that.
So right now they're just trying to people who have offices in they're just trying to get their stuff out, get it to somewhere where they can take it.
And if we have time, Becky, I just want to show you one other thing because the latest death toll, if I have the correct numbers, at least 22 people
They've only managed to identify six bodies, though, which tell you something about the state that these bodies were in when they found them.
Three of the bodies were children, which makes this particularly upsetting for people.
And particularly upsetting was the photo that the Foreign Minister sent out earlier, showing a child laying life lifeless next to a stroller buggy. And
this isn't here. The police are just putting it in this bag.
I can only assume that they're preserving it for evidence of what the Ukrainians are already calling terrorism. They're calling a war crime.
They're calling an intentional strike on a civilian target and an intentional strike that has had deadly, deadly consequences for not just
adults but for at least three children as well.
We're told that there are also some children who are amongst the injured. And there are a few dozen people now still who are on a counted for. And
remember we have we're nowhere near the front lines.
MCLEAN: And so oftentimes when the air raid sirens go off, Becky, it's not like people are running for cover necessarily. This is Vinnytsia; we're
nowhere near danger typically.
And so a lot of people would have likely stayed where they are a lot of people would have likely chosen not to seek shelter a lot of people would
have likely gone about their normal business.
Clearly, though, this is a wakeup call for people who live in this part of Ukraine.
ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Scott, thank you, the reality of life on the ground there in Vinnytsia, as Scott says, some distance away from the
All right just moments ago, Sri Lanka's President formally resigned. She mailed a letter of resignation to Parliament which will allow the Prime
Minister to temporarily step in as acting president when Parliament finds while Parliament finds a permanent replacement.
Mr. Rajapaksa who fled Sri Lanka after protesters stormed his residence arrived in Singapore a short time ago aboard this plane. Singapore says
he's been given permission to enter the country on a private visit, but he's not asked for or been granted asylum.
Well just ahead after sending a stark message to Tehran, Joe Biden faces warming up to Saudi Arabia, how the U.S. President's Middle East trip is
playing out in the region and at home, that's next.
ANDERSON: Back to our top story here U.S. President Joe Biden's first tour as President of the Middle East. Earlier Mr. Biden and the Israeli
caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid agreed on a commitment to ensure that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon on Friday.
Mr. Biden is scheduled to meet with Palestinian officials in Bethlehem. And a visit to Saudi Arabia later is well, some controversy over the kingdom's
human rights record, including the killing of a Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi casting somewhat of a cloud over this trip, not least at
home for Joe Biden.
Joining us live from Jerusalem is CNN's Chief White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. What to your mind are the key takeaways from this the
first leg of this tour to the Middle East, Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly it's his first stop here in the Middle East making it Israel that was
intentional from the White House. And you saw today he had this lengthy meeting with the Prime Minister here, Prime Minister Lapid.
And then came out in at this press conference where they talked really about their money main priorities. And of course Iran was the sharpest
divide between these two leaders because they both agree that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon and they're warning of the consequences of what
happens if Iran does do that.
COLLINS: But they disagree on the strategy of how to make sure that that doesn't happen. And you saw the Prime Minister, Lapid come out push very
forcefully on President Biden about using force having the free world, use force if Iran continues with its program to develop a nuclear weapon.
But then you still have quite different language from President Biden, here a preview of what he argued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I want to make clear that we can continue to lead in the region and not create a vacuum, a vacuum that is filled by China and or Russia,
against the interest of both Israel and the United States and many other countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: And the President went on to talk about what the view basically that he has when he talks about using force as a last resort to stop Iran
from of actually obtaining a nuclear weapon.
So the difference there in the language of obtaining a nuclear weapon, while Lapid was talking about the program simply to continue to develop,
developing one. Those are the sharp differences there.
Then, of course, the other clear takeaway from today's press conference was his failure to say that he will bring up Jamal Khashoggi's name when he
sits down with the Saudi Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia on Friday.
It's just 24 hours from now, when he's expected to do that, and instead he just told reporters, his feelings are well known on what happened with
Jamal Khashoggi, he has called it a flat out murder.
He has criticized the government of Saudi Arabia saying they have little social redeeming value, but he did not commit specifically to bringing it
up. And that's because his administration and his top aides are really developing right now how they're going to handle a very sensitive visit
that is on the horizon for President Biden.
ANDERSON: Yes. See you here, Kaitlan, thank you. We are in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Let's take a very quick break more in just a moment.
ANDERSON: Well, a recap of a developing story this hour. Sri Lanka's President has now formally resigned. Gotabaya Rajapaksa emailed a letter of
resignation to Parliament which now will allow the Prime Minister to temporarily step in as acting president while Parliament finds a permanent
Mr. Rajapaksa who fled Sri Lanka after protesters stormed his residence arrived in Singapore short time ago bought this plane. Singapore says he's
been given permission to enter the country on a private visit but has not asked for or been granted asylum.
Meantime these are pictures of people celebrating in Colombo. And protest organizers said they'll stand down from protesting in an outside government
buildings apart from that presidential palace where you saw images over the weekend of people quite friendly, sort of enjoying themselves as they got
to experience that public building.
ANDERSON: All right, that's this story out of Colombo, Sri Lanka where the time is 9.09 p.m. Well, Biden will be here in Jeddah tomorrow to meet with
Saudi officials before a wider meeting with regional leaders on Saturday and he will come to a country and a city, much changed.
The Saudi Crown Prince has a new vision for the future of his country. It's not one, though that every Saudi shares. Our Nic Robertson explains.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): President Joe Biden might see this on his way to meeting Saudis leaders. Whole
neighborhoods of the kingdom's historic Second City Jeddah, erased for modernization, or he may see this thousands upon thousands of new homes
being built on government orders.
ROBERTSON (on camera): What Biden is unlikely to see other people we met, who told us they're unhappy their homes were demolished, but are afraid to
speak out publicly.
ROBERTSON (voice over): The housing changes are a fragment of massive reforms authored by the kingdom's leader in waiting. Crown Prince Mohammed
bin Salman, whom Saudi critics outside the country say is failing to deliver.
YAHYA ASSIRI, FOUNDER, ALQST & CO-FOUNDER, NAAS PARTY: It's very clear there is a big fail with the --, basically, because it is a one man vision.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Yet stroll Jeddah's old streets as we did, and you'll find plenty of fans of the Crown Prince, Abdul Majeed was one of
them Nabil Abdallah, another.
NABIL ABDALLAH, JEDDAH SHOP OWNER: My dream, our children get a good chance. Now we see this in your vision 2030.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's vision 2030.
ABDALLAH: I'm with him, I'm agree with him.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Where generations of his family lived and worked. The Crown Prince is renovations bringing ancient homes back to life.
ROBERTSON (on camera): But what happens if he doesn't deliver he can't deliver?
ABDALLAH: Why you think negative? We already now see the positive something happened. Why do you think that the bigger, if we see the thing about
negative we cannot go one step?
ROBERTSON (voice over): But MBS's dreams are big and could make or break the country. Neom is a futuristic city yet to be built, its epicenter and
if the Crown Prince has his way its economic engine for generations to come.
Yet despite several years in the making developers videos are all we have government permission to shoot there hasn't yet been facilitated. Grandiose
visions of kings are nothing new here. The Last King Abdullah had his version. I covered it 15 years ago.
NIDAL JAMJOOM, FORMER CEO, EMAAR KAEC: There's going to be half the size of total Bahrain, and three times what happened.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Three times is--
JAMJOOM: Three times it happened, yes.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Reality never caught up with imagination. Hundreds of thousands of proposed jobs never materialized.
ROBERTSON (on camera): MBS's vision will be the test of him at every level, if there are jobs and a brighter future for most people, then happy days.
But if his reforms falter, even fail, how will he respond? If it's through repression, then his relationship with President Biden and other Western
leaders could crumble.
ROBERTSON (voice over): For now leverages mostly on MBS's side, a pivotal regional power with vital energy supplies at a time of U.S. need.
LINA AL-HATHLOUL, SAUDI ACTIVIST: He managed to basically make the Biden Administration back down on all its promises regarding Saudi Arabia and
ROBERTSON (voice over): Hathloul's sister, a women's rights activist, was freed from Saudi jail but not the country. Not long after Biden called for
her release early last year. She fears MBS will read Biden's visit as approval for more arrests.
AL-HATHLOUL: Press will never stop as MBS is in power. It's about the person he is and the only thing that could change things is accountability
from the international community.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Biden's time in Jeddah will be a harsh reminder, a real politic at its toughest Nic Robertson, CNN Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
ANDERSON: Well, that's it for today for our special coverage. We will be back here tomorrow, same time, same place as President Biden arrives in
Jeddah here in Saudi Arabia. Look forward to seeing you then.