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Liz Cheney Loses in Landslide to Trump-Backed Candidate; Israel and Turkiye Restore Full Diplomatic Ties; Russian Strike on Odessa Wounds Four; Iran Nuclear Deal; Afghanistan One Year Post-Taliban Takeover; U.K. Inflation; Serbia-Kosovo Crisis Talks. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired August 17, 2022 - 10:00   ET





REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): This primary election is over but now the real work begins.

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The devastating loss for one Republican Trump critic in Wyoming tells us what's direction

the U.S. might be heading in ahead of the election season.

Plus, more strikes in Ukraine leave a town in tatters as Ukraine aims to destroy Russia's supply lines.

And the U.K. is transported back to the 1980s, inflation keeping a 40 year high and soaring into double digits. Energy and food prices are causing

consumer angst across the country.


KINKADE: I'm Lynda Kinkade, live in Atlanta.

Liz Cheney the loudest voice among Republicans saying that Donald Trump's actions on January 6 were wrong, has been rejected by Republican voters.

She lost the Republican primary for U.S. Congress on Tuesday by nearly 40 percentage, points falling to a Trump backed candidate.

Cheney will remain in Congress until the end of her term in January and says that she continues to make it her mission to ensure that Donald Trump

will never threaten democracy again.


CHENEY: We must be very clear-eyed about the threat that we faced and about what is required to defeat it. I have said since January 6th I will

do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office and I mean it.


CHENEY: This is a fight for all of us together. I am a conservative Republican, I believe deeply in the principles and the ideals on which my

party was founded, I love its history and I love what our party has stood for. But I love my country more.


KINKADE: Trump called Cheney's loss wonderful for America. He posted on his truth social website that Cheney's loss is a rebuke of the January 6

committee, which he referred to as political hacks and thugs.

I want to bring in Gabby Orr for more on what Cheney's loss means.

Good to have, you. with us Gabby talk to us about what's the size of this loss indicates when it comes to how much Trump still has within the

Republican Party.

GABBY ORR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Liz Cheney last night became yet another Republican who voted for Donald Trump's impeachment. She, of course, sits

on the January 6 committee and has now been ousted by a pro Trump primary challenger, somebody who was directly recruited by Trump and endorsed by

him, Harriet Hageman.

This is a moment that is very important in Republican politics, because it really does show the depth of the influence that Donald Trump has, on not

just elections but also the voters and who they are turning out to support in these primaries.

Just two years ago, Liz Cheney won her primary with more than 70 percent support. Last night she was defeated more than 40 percentage points. So

there was a huge swing in the direction of the pro Trump challenger. And I want to just be clear how much Trump helped Harriet Hageman here. He went

to Wyoming to campaign for her.


ORR: He was one of the first names that she mentioned during her victory speech last night. Let's take a listen to some of that sound from her.


HARRIET HAGEMAN (R), WYOMING CONGRESSIONAL NOMINEE: What Wyoming has shown today is that, while it may not be easy, we can dislodge entrenched

politicians, who believe they have risen above the people they are supposed to represent and serve.

We want a Congress that actually legislates, not one that delegates its lawmaking authorities to administrative agencies in violation of the very

foundation of our constitutional structure.

Obviously we are all very grateful to president Trump, who recognizes that Wyoming has only one congressional representative and we have to make it

count. His clear and unwavering support from the very beginning propelled us to victory tonight.


ORR: Now of, course Harriet Hageman is very well poised to become the next congresswoman representing Wyoming in the lower chamber. But she is one of

-- Liz Cheney is one of the 10 Republicans who fall into pro-Trump ousters.

He targeted six of those Republican members of Congress who voted for his impeachment, four of them announced they are retiring, effectively

preventing Donald Trump from recruiting somebody to challenge them.

Two of them went on to win reelection but Cheney last night became the fourth of that group before who went on to seek reelection, who did not

succeed in defeating a primary challenger directly recruited by president Trump.

KINKADE: Incredible results. Gabby, closer numbers in a Senate primary in Alaska and also special election to fill the state's vacant House seat.

ORR: Alaska is just another place where Donald Trump has been meddling in the primaries. He has recruited and endorsed Kelly Tshibaka to compete

against Lisa Murkowski in the primary there. Both of them are expected to advance in that primary to the general election.

Alaska has a rank choice system. So they will advance along with potentially two other challengers as well. And then Sarah Palin, the former

vice presidential Republican nominee, was on the ballot last night in two different contests for the same seat, one special election, one primary


And she is expected, also, to advance in that primary which will be held later this month when they look at the second choices in that rank choice

voting system.

Palin was also endorsed by Donald Trump. She participated in the rally that he held in Alaska last month, where he supported both Tshibaka and Palin.

And she has been very critical of not just Lisa Murkowski but Republicans in both the Senate and the House, who have refused to embrace Trump's

falsehoods about the 2020 election.

And this is just part of a larger wave of pro Trump Republican candidates, who have made their way successfully through Senate primaries and House

primaries, because of the support they have gotten both financially and vocally from the former president.

These are not just candidates who support his lies about the 2020 election; they are also candidates who have adopted his more populist political


KINKADE: All right, Gabby Orr, we will stay on the story with more later in the show. Good to have you with us.

ORR: Thanks, Lynda.

KINKADE: And, of course, there is much more on the results of Tuesday's primaries on Our election page has vote totals and analysis of

what happened and, of course, a look ahead at what the results might mean for the November midterms.

Israel and Turkiye have resumed full diplomatic ties. That is the word from Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid. The countries cut ties in 2018 after the

Israeli military killed 60 Palestinians during protests over the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Mr. Lapid says that the resumption of diplomacy follows positive developments in the relationship between the two countries. Hadas Gold

joins us now from Jerusalem with the details.

Happy to have you with, us. Take us through the details.

What do we know about this agreement between Israel and Turkiye?

And just how significant is it for the region?

HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been a four year break in the diplomatic relations between the two countries. As you know, both

countries expelled each other's ambassadors in 2018.

And the relationship has had several ups and downs over the years, back and forth. Some in relation to the Turkish president, Erdogan. He will say

something very critical of Israel and then turn around and say something more positive about the relationship.

And Israeli authorities were a little bit worried about how the relationship would turn out. But as prime minister Lapid said, he said

positive developments, especially over the past year.

We should also note that since former prime minister Netanyahu left office, he said the positive developments over the last year helped them reach this

point. Over the past year, Yair Lapid has visited Turkiye and so has Israeli president Isaac Herzog. And the Turkish minister visited Israel,

the first visit of its type in more than a decade.


GOLD: So that is very significant. Those visits, and that relationship Yair Lapid said, that they built over the past year, helped bring them to

this point.

He said that this relationship is an important asset for regional stability and is also very important economically.

From the Turkish point of view, much of the tension in the relationship has been over Turkiye's views over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But

Turkish authorities have been saying that they believe restoring this relationship will actually help the Palestinians. Take a listen to the

foreign minister.


MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Appointing ambassadors is also important to improve bilateral ties. On the

other hand, as we have said before, we will continue to defend the rights of Palestine, Jerusalem and Gaza. It is important that our messages on this

topic are delivered to Tel Aviv on ambassador level.


GOLD: Why would Israel and Turkiye be interested in coming back together after essentially a four year freeze, other than just wanting to have good


There are quite a few shared interests: concerns over Iran's nuclear program and also their activity in the region, especially the activity

backing certain militant groups in Syria. A lot of concerns there.

And also, Turkiye has a lot of interest in working with Israel especially on energy, especially on shipping Israeli gas to Europe through Turkiye,

especially because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how that is affecting natural gas supplies. There is a lot of interest, Turkiye sees

business opportunity there in restoring this relationship with Israel. Lynda.

KINKADE: I wanted to turn to another story, certainly some inflammatory language used by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, leader of the

Palestinian national authority.

In Germany, just explain what he said and the criticism that has followed.

GOLD: So Mahmoud Abbas compared what he said was the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the Holocaust, essentially saying it was the equivalent of

50 Holocausts.

Mahmoud Abbas has made several comments and written several things over the past few years that have received condemnation because of how he speaks

about the Holocaust, things like Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves.

But this sort of reached a new level, because he was doing it in Germany next to the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, during a press conference. Of

course Germany and its leaders are so sensitive about Germany's role in the Holocaust and about their relationship with Israel.

During this press conference, Mahmoud Abbas was asked whether he will be apologizing on behalf of the Palestinian people to Israel and Germany, as

the 50th anniversary of the attacks on the 1972 Munich Olympics, where 11 Israeli athletes and one West German police officer died.

He sort of skirted the question and said, if we're going to go back into the past, let's talk about what is happening to the Palestinians. Take a



MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): From 1947 to the present, day Israel has committed 50 massacres in Palestinian

villages and cities, in Deir Yassin, Tantura, Kafr Qasim and many others, 50 massacres, 50 Holocausts.

And until today and every day there are casualties killed by the Israeli military. Our request is to say enough. Come toward peace.


GOLD: Now Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, grimaced onstage but did not say anything. He has come under some criticism. He did not say anything

onstage. Later he did tweet condemnation and there have been also very swift condemnations from Israeli leaders as well.

Mahmoud Abbas has issued a clarification statement saying that he reaffirms that the Holocaust is the most heinous crime that has occurred in modern

human history. And so what he meant when he was speaking is he wants people to recognize the massacres also happening against the Palestinian people.

KINKADE: Hadas Gold, thank you very much.

The relationship is more important than ever as the war rages on in Ukraine. We are getting word of Russian rockets hitting a key Black Sea

area in the southern part of the country.

Ukrainian officials say missile attacks hit the Odessa region in the overnight hours, injuring four civilians. Odessa, of course, is a major

location for grain exports. Its military says rescue operations are underway after missiles destroyed a recreational center, as well as several

other buildings.

CNN senior international correspondent David McKenzie is watching the developments for us and joins us live from Kyiv.

Good to have you with us, David. Certainly a number of casualties in Odessa. This is Ukraine's third largest city. Explain what is happening in

that region.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, overnight, you had these attacks, which, according to the Ukrainian officials, could be from anti-ship

missiles, which the Russians have been using on land targets.


MCKENZIE: You see those dramatic pictures of that destroyed building. There was a large fire for quite some time; several injured. It was a

recreation center. And other buildings in Odessa, it speaks to the continued ability for the Russian military to strike deep inside Ukraine.

There was also strikes to the west of where I am and in other parts away from the front lines. The real tense situation, I should say, the most --

largest scale fighting is in the Donbas, in the eastern part of the country.

Now a Ukrainian official admitting they were losing some territory in that fighting. Up to 800 strikes a day, both artillery and rocket strikes on the

Ukrainian position, as Russians push inch by inch to try to take Donetsk, the regional capital there.

If they're able to take that part of Ukraine, in some ways, it is going to the objectives of what Putin laid out at the beginning of this conflict.

But it is a very far way off from that point.

You also had these very dramatic pictures coming out of Crimea, in the northern part of the Russian occupied peninsula, several explosions. So far

the Ukrainians have not directly commented on this. But according to Russians it was sabotage.

We had civilians streaming out of Crimea. The president, President Zelenskyy, did hint at who might be responsible and certainly said that any

Ukrainian who is living in the territories or any part of Ukraine that is occupied by the Russians needs to stay away from Russian military assets

because, in the past few months and weeks, certainly, Ukraine has increased its capability to strike outside its zone of control.

KINKADE: David McKenzie for us in Kyiv, thanks so much.

You watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from CNN Center in Atlanta. Still ahead, the waiting game as Western nations ponder Iran's response to a plan

to revive the nuclear deal.

And a continuing look at Afghanistan one year after the U.S. withdrawal.

Do American politicians still think Joe Biden got it wrong?

Stay with us.




KINKADE: No repeat of 2018. That's the main demand by Iran to restart the 2015 nuclear deal. On Tuesday, Iran submitted its written response to the

E.U. foreign policy chief's final draft to revive the deal.

The European Union and the United States is studying it. A regional diplomat telling CNN that Iran wants a guarantee of compensation if the

U.S. withdraws from the deal once more.


KINKADE: As it did, under then, president Trump four years ago.

Tuesday on CONNECT THE WORLD, an Iranian expert explained to Becky Anderson why the compensation she was so important.


MOHAMMAD MARANDI, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN: The price that the United States would have to pay would be that, for example, companies that

come to Iran and invest after a deal is signed, that if, suddenly, like under Trump, the United States simply decides to leave, those companies or

those investors don't feel threatened, that they're secure.

Because they entered the country, they invested in the country, when the United States and Iran, too, are both a part of an agreement. So the

Iranians want to make sure that the Americans that they decide to leave, that it is costly for them.


KINKADE: Becky also got insight from Russia's top diplomat in Vienna, who stressed that reviving the deal is a collaborative effort and expressed

optimism that an agreement is near.


MIKHAIL ULYANOV, RUSSIA'S ENVOY TO IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS: The ball is now in the U.S. court. I hope that the Washington will react positively. And if it

happens, we will have most likely a ministerial meeting called the German commission of the JCPOA either this week or next week. Indeed, we are very

close to the very final stage.


KINKADE: Fred Pleitgen has done extensive reporting on Iran. He is tracking developments for us from Moscow. And Kylie Atwood is at the State


As we await the U.S. reaction, good to have you both with us.

Kylie, I will start with you. We have heard from Russia's representative on the nuclear talks in Vienna, saying, that essentially, the ball is in the

Biden administration's court.

How is the U.S. responding and is there any chance that the U.S. can guarantee that there won't be another withdrawal?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So I think the Biden administration is not getting ahead of their skis right now. They are

really taking their time to review what the Iranians have said in response to this E.U. proposal to salvage this nuclear deal.

They said they have received Iran's responses, that they are reviewing them. Presumably they are going to respond to what Iran has put on the

table through the European Union, going back to them and giving U.S. feedback.

So we are not getting a true sense of how they feel, yet, about the Iranian response. I think it is important to note that giving Iran any economic

assurances or political assurances would be virtually impossible for the Biden administration to do because there are so many factors at play when

it comes to Congress, when it comes to another U.S. president.

Those kinds of assurances are highly unlikely for the Biden administration to be able to commit to. Yesterday, we heard from the State Department

spokesperson, who did express a bit of frustration, really, in terms of how long these conversations to salvage these nuclear deals have gone on.

Listen to what he said.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We started this process in the spring of 2021. It is now nearly late summer of 2022. If all, sides, if

the Iranians had demonstrated a seriousness of purpose from the earliest days of this, we would have been able to achieve a mutually assured (ph)

compliance with the JCPOA in relatively short order.


ATWOOD: Now he also said that they are hoping for seriousness on the Iranian side, which he says they have not seen up until this point. In

terms of how Iran has been engaging in these conversations.

But also, notably, he didn't make a point to explicitly say that any of the Iranian responses made demands that go outside the contours of the nuclear

deal itself. That is something that the Biden administration has said Iran has been doing up until now. Perhaps we will learn more, perhaps they're

making those types of demands. But he did not explicitly say they are making those right now. So perhaps a bit of hope in terms of them focusing

on the real nuclear issues and not the issues that go beyond that.

KINKADE: Not surprising that the U.S. probably will not be able to make any sort of guarantees. Good to have you with, us Kylie.

Fred, I want to go to you. We did hear from the Iranian political analyst who essentially said that there must be a high price to pay for the U.S.,

if it decides to back out once more. Trust remaining a big issue.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I would say trust certainly remains a big issue on the part of the Iranians, of course,

as well. I think it is one of the reasons why they are putting those demands forward. And why they want the changes to the text.

One of the interesting things that I am grasping today from the Iranians, speaking to (INAUDIBLE) in Iran is they also listen to what Ned Price, the

spokesperson for the State Department said.

They said at least they think it wasn't negative. They understand that the U.S. is going through all of, this looking to provide an answer to what the

Iranians wants. The Iranians, for their part right now quite frankly, feel they are in a very decent position.


PLEITGEN: They think that time is on their side and they can wait and then see exactly what the United States comes forward with. But I think when the

Iranians speak of a price to pay, that is twofold.

On the one hand they will want economic reassurances, which, of course, will be very difficult for the, U.S. if it all possible, to provide. They

would want some sort of winding down, period if the next administration or future administration decides to leave the deal.

But for their part, one of the things that the Iranians have constantly said, which really made them angry when the Trump administration left the

deal, is that not only were they being hit with very heavy sections but they also destroyed large parts of their nuclear program.

And, for instance, they poured cement into one of their main reactors that they have. They don't want that to happen in the future. Again so I think

one of the things the Iranians might be asking for is, if they dismantle their nuclear program again, is they would do it in a way where they would

be able to ramp it up again if a future administration would leave the Iran nuclear agreement once again.

The Iranians are also saying that the changes they want in the text put forth by the European Union are things that they believe are doable. They

say that the text as provided by the European Union already went a long way toward Iran's demands.

So they obviously believe that this is something that the U.S. would be able to sign. But of course, we know that it is very difficult. Trust, of

course, is something that basically is not there. And the U.S. is going to be very careful as well.

KINKADE: Fred Pleitgen and Kylie Atwood, good to have you both with us, thank you.

All this week we've been marking the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul. And today we want to look at it from 11,000 kilometers away in

Washington, D.C. Here's Alex Marquardt on the U.S. perspective a year after America pulled out.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One year ago, this was the deadly and chaotic culmination efforts by the

past two U.S. presidents to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The Taliban had overrun the country. The Afghan military and government had collapsed, sapped of American support. The Trump administration had struck

a deal with the Taliban to have U.S. troops leave in mid 2021, an agreement that President Joe Biden argued forced his timing.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we are left with a simple decision: either follow through on the commitment made by the last

administration and leave Afghanistan or say we weren't leaving commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): Like Trump, Biden wanted out. Staying, he said, would lead to a forever war, which had already cost almost 2.5 thousand

American lives. And he argued that ending it would also end the extraordinary cost that had risen to $2 trillion.

If there had been no pullout or significant drawdown, another year of the same, like the prior five years, would have cost to the U.S. around $38

billion in military and reconstruction costs. Republicans like congressman Mike McCaul of Texas blasted how the withdrawal was handled, calling it a

stain on Biden's presidency.


REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R-TX): The evacuation was so poorly handled that we just left so many behind, whether American citizens or Afghan partners.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): Thousands of those Afghans remain, often hunted, McCaul says, by the Taliban. More than 74,000 Afghan special immigrant visa

applicants are in the pipeline and the Biden administration so far has issued over 15,000 visas.


SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): It is a broken program. It has continued to be broken. The Biden administration made a recent announcement to help with

that, to help speed up the process.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Many are Afghan woman, trying to get out, as their rights are torn away by the Taliban, an issue that Senator Jeanne Shaheen

has fought for, for years.

SHAHEEN: We have seen the rights of women be dramatically restricted, their ability to work, to go to school.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): Without the American military, there Shaheen, says the U.S. is hamstrung in its ability to do more.

And the agreement the U.S. struck with the Taliban to not harbor terrorists, she says, is effectively dead, after the leader of Al Qaeda,

Ayman Al-Zawahiri was found to be living in downtown Kabul. The U.S. drone strike that killed him, the Biden administration said, is proof that so-

called over the horizon missions from outside Afghanistan, can work.

But the U.S. intelligence community is severely hampered by not having American eyes and ears on the ground, according to the CIA's top former

analyst of Afghanistan, Beth Sanner.


BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: We have a growing terrorist threat in Afghanistan. I will say, I think we need to keep this in

perspective. It is nothing like what it was before 2001. Al Qaeda is still a shadow of itself. We still have that ability to take them out.



MARQUARDT: One year on from this withdrawal from Afghanistan, the country is spiraling, facing crises on multiple fronts: an economic crisis, a

humanitarian crisis, a medical crisis.

All of this fueling the debate over the 20 years of war in Afghanistan and its dramatic and. A debate that will surely continue long after this first

anniversary -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


KINKADE: U.K. consumers feeling the squeeze on all sides as inflation hits a new 40 year high.




KINKADE: Welcome back, I'm Lynda Kinkade with CONNECT THE WORLD. Good to have you with us.

New economic numbers are confirming what households across the U.K. already know: costs are soaring. U.K. inflation has hit a 40-year high, rising

above 10 percent in July. The biggest increases we've seen in food staples like milk, bread and eggs. That's on top of electricity, gas prices which

have skyrocketed over the last 12 months.

CNN's Anna Stewart has been looking into the numbers and joins us now.

Good to have you with us, Anna. In terms of the cost of living, obviously many factors are pushing it up, including the war in Ukraine. But of all

the countries in the G7, the U.K. certainly has the highest inflation.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does. It's a very unfortunate title. It's a title that the U.K. has retained now for some time, the highest

inflation in the G7, 10.1 percent, which really came far above all the estimates I was looking at yesterday.

Why is it the worst of the G7?

For the U.K., they're much more exposed to energy prices relating to the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia say than the U.S. and Canada. Also

the labor market is incredibly tight. It's got the same issues as Europe in terms of the pandemic rebalancing and the shortage of staff.

But added to that, the U.K. also has Brexit to deal with as well. Right now, we're looking at food prices there. You can see a pint of milk has

gone up -- so has a loaf of bread, so has a bag of flour, up 40 percent over the last year.

Now that is what's so interesting and new about the figures we got today. Up to this point, it's really been an energy price story in terms of

inflation. We are still seeing that. Gas prices up 95 percent over the last 12 months.

But those energy prices are now feeding through the supply chain. So there is always a bit of a lag on this. It's high input prices and that is

driving up all sorts of other categories.


STEWART: So households that have already been incredibly squeezed in terms of energy bills -- we're talking thousands of dollars more a year at this

stage -- are now going to be stuck with a much higher food bill as well.

KINKADE: Really tough for so many people.

So is inflation going to get worse before it gets better?

What's the Bank of England saying?

STEWART: It is definitely going to get worse before it gets better. Unfortunately, the Bank of England expected to top out above 13 percent in

October before coming down. The prices we saw in the last months were worse. Bank of England said their expectations are concerns that the bank

may not have a good grip on this.

Might have to take even more aggressive action. In the U.K., we've already had six rate hikes so far. People's wages are obviously not keeping up with

inflation. We had some data showing that real wages in the U.K. are actually dropping at the fastest rate on record.

When we look at the cost of living crisis, of course it hits the lower income households the hardest. There was a report out by the Institute of

Fiscal Studies this week, I was fascinated because it said the poor households will feel the inflation actually going to be at 18 percent in

October, much higher than for everyone else because so much of their income, their outgoings go on energy and food prices.

So Bank of England may need to be more aggressive and the U.K. government may need to do a lot more to support people, particularly on lower incomes.

Right now, the prime minister is in something of a transitional period as a very protracted leadership battle goes on.

KINKADE: We will stay across that as. Well Anna Stewart for us, good have you with us from London. Thank you.

NATO is trying to ease tensions between Serbia and its neighbor, Kosovo, to prevent an all-out conflict from erupting in the Balkans. The NATO

secretary general is holding back to back crisis talks with Serbia's president and Kosovo's prime minister in Brussels today.

And at a news conference a short time ago he said he's calling on all sides to exercise restraint and to avoid violence. Tensions flared earlier this

month. Ethnic Serbs in Kosovo are upset at the looming new rules for identification documents and vehicle license plates.

Let's get the details now from CNN's Scott McLean.

Good to have you with us, Scott. The last thing NATO wants is another conflict in Europe. Talk to us about how we've seen this escalation and

tension over the last few months.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the surface, Lynda, this is about entry permits. This about license plates. But really, like so many things

in this part of the world, it is about ethnicity.

The idea that ethnic Serbs who are inside of Kosovo are being discriminated against by the Kosovar government, hence, you have these crisis talks with

the E.U. tomorrow and with the NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg today to sort of bring down the tension between these two -- these two


So Stoltenberg said earlier today that the situation on the ground has improved. But it is up to each side to make sure that it doesn't escalate

further. He also said that, of course, NATO troops, 3,700 NATO peacekeeping troops on the ground, they are neutral actors.

But they will act proportionally, depending what the situation is if need be though he didn't get into any specific detail about what kind of action

that might actually entail.

He was also asked about the risk of further conflict and he said that, look, there is always a risk. Hence why these meetings are taking place, to

try to bring down the temperature.

This press conference took place after his meeting with the Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic, who tried to be diplomatic, tried to insist

that, of course, peace is the main priority of Serbia.

But he couldn't resist going back down the rabbit hole of criticizing his counterpart in Kosovo, accusing him of simply using this situation to try

to ramp up the tension for political gain.

KINKADE: So Scott, what sort of impact can we expect this NATO E.U. talks to have on the ground?

MCLEAN: Remember that, of course, Serbia would very much like to become a part of the European Union and the E.U. has continued to insist that that's

not going to happen unless this is resolved and unless the situation in Bosnia is resolved, where there're sort of similar ethnic issues with

ethnic Serbs in the country taking place there, which makes a political situation extremely unstable.

I just want to give context of this particular issue that we're talking about. This all stems back from 2008, when Kosovo first declared its

independence, something that Serbia did not recognize. Neither did Russia, by the way, despite the fact that more than 100 other countries actually


In 2013, Serbia and Kosovo agreed to E.U. mediated dialogue. Frankly that has borne precious little fruit.

And last summer, September, that's when protesters actually blocked the border for the first time.


MCLEAN: That was when Kosovo tried to implement rules that would require temporary license plates from Kosovo on all Serbian cars coming into the

country. That didn't go over well. Those blockades were removed only after an E.U. brokered deal and an E.U. brokered compromise.

And this summer, just earlier this month, you had a very similar situation. Kosovo now requiring Serbs, ethnic Serbs coming into the country who live

there to have entry permits to actually enter and also requiring them to apply for license plates from Kosovo.

So again, on the surface, this is about license plates, about documents but really it is about so much more. It does not take much in this part of the

world to make things very unstable. That is the worry certainly from the E.U. and from NATO as well.

KINKADE: Yes, big concerns. Scott McLean for us in London. Thanks very much.