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Connect the World
Blinken Reiterates Support for Two-State Solution; U.S. Secretary of State: U.S. Officials will Remain in Region; Blinken Wraps up Trip to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank; Palestinian Authority Presidency Spokesperson Speaks to CNN; Ukraine Defense Minister Signs 16 Drone Contracts; More Mass Protests over Pension Reform Underway. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired January 31, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOR WENNESLAND, SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS: And we need to avoid that to happen. Because at the moment, there is an
opportunity for de-escalation, there is an opportunity to kind of move and look in the direction of the reality that the two sides, the two people
need to live side by side in peace and security.
We don't get to that with the current trajectory. And we don't get to it without starting seriously discussing on what will happen on the ground
here in one, two or three years if the current trajectory is being like it is, at the moment then we don't have a one state solution.
We don't have a two state solution. We have a trajectory of chaos that will hit the Palestinians and that will hit the Israelis. And that's why we need
to have responsible leadership at this very difficult point in time.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace for the Middle East Peace Process for
what it's worth joining me from Jerusalem. Sir it's extremely important to have you on today. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. "Connect the
World" continues after this very short break, stay with us.
ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome back to what is the second hour of "Connect the World". It is a busy time in Region. You are watching
the show, of course from our Abu Dhabi Programming Hub.
A shrinking horizon of hope for Palestinians, those words from the U.S. Secretary of State near the end of the Middle East visit that happened amid
a surge of violence in the region last hour you heard Antony Blinken answer reporters' questions for the first time during this trip. He says despite
the seemingly big obstacles ahead. He said he's hopeful for progress. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATES: Across my meetings with Israel's government, the Palestinian Authority, our partners in Cairo, I heard a
deep concern about the current trajectory. But I also heard constructive ideas for practical steps that each side can take to lower the temperature
to foster greater cooperation to bolster people's security.
And so I've asked senior members of my team to stay on in the region and continue to discussions on how these steps might actually be advanced?
These are the steps that the parties themselves must lean on.
BLINKEN: And we have no illusions that heightened tensions can be diffused overnight. But we're prepared to support efforts here and with partners in
the region, if the parties have the will to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, earlier Blinken met with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials in Ramallah. You see images of
him here with Mr. Abbas, who says the Palestinians are willing to negotiate but that Israel must be held accountable for "Unilateral operations" on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT: Our people will not accept the continuation of the occupation forever. And the regional security will
not be strengthened by violating the sanctity of the holy sites, trampling on the dignity of the Palestinian people and ignoring their legitimate
rights of freedom, dignity and independence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, Hadas Gold is back with us this hour from Jerusalem. It's been interesting, hasn't it listening to the Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas? Who as of course suspended security coordination with the Israelis, after the deadly raid by Israel on the West Bank?
And you have heard from the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, I have to say, I'm not sure that experts in this region would say they've heard
anything new. But there is a heightened sense of concern at this point.
And the U.S. Secretary of State, calling for an immediate restoration of calm, loosely termed, I guess, to rein in this violence before anything
else can be achieved in as he sees it progress. Your thoughts on what we've heard over the last, what, 48 hours?
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so I think the biggest thing I took away from today so far is we didn't get any sort of announcement
that the security coordination had been reestablished at all. And the sign it was really strange sign and signals that Blinken is sending by saying
that members of his staff are staying on afterwards to continue working on this.
And I imagine that behind the scenes those conversations of trying to get the security coordination to come back online to working with the Israelis
to try to get them to maybe moderate some of the actions that they're taking in the wake of the violence over the past few days.
It will be interesting to see how long they stay and what success they may have? Because, like I said, we didn't hear from Secretary of State Blinken
in any sort of concrete steps agreements that he was able to come to with either Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or President Mahmoud Abbas that
would help calm the situation.
He was asked directly about this. He was asked by an Israeli reporter, whether he thinks that Israeli actions like increasing the security for
settlements, or even getting more gun permits in the hands of everyday Israelis, whether that would only escalate the situation.
And he said that they you know, he repeated his line that they want all sides to not take any unilateral action that would add fuel to the fire,
that the most important thing right now is to have some calm.
I do think it was interesting to hear his acknowledgement that they are under no illusion that they will be able to defuse the situation in a two
day trip. And they are also acknowledging that the two state solutions that they keep saying the United States is so committed to is he called a
That it's even further and further away. As you look at where these two sides stand right now, as you look at the leadership, the new right wing
government in Israel, the idea even of this government, this current government, sitting down for negotiations with the Palestinians seems quite
And so it'll be interesting to see what who, especially who the staff are that he chose, that are staying on and what they will be doing over the
next few days, and what sort of actual actionable items we will see out of them?
I also thought it was interesting he made a nod to Egypt. Egypt was his first step on this trip. And the Egyptians have historically played a very
big role here in negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. So I'm sure they are going to be also very much involved in these talks in the
next few days.
ANDERSON: It was interesting, wasn't it Hadas that we heard both the Secretary of State and indeed the UN Special Envoy for Middle East Peace,
who I've just been speaking to live on the show calling for bold leadership on both sides?
And for Venezuelan the UN Envoy, suggesting that at present, we are on a trajectory that could lead to chaos. This, it seems to so many in region is
close to if not already a tipping point your thoughts?
GOLD: Yes Becky, when I've been speaking to experts here, you know, former military officials, when we be speaking to Former Palestinian Authority
officials. There is a lot of pessimism when they were talking about Secretary of State Blinken's visit they said yep that's great glad he's
GOLD: He can maybe dial the temperature down a little bit. But don't be surprised if like the day after he takes off, something happens again. And
this situation continues. It's interesting that the UN Coordinate for the Middle East Peace Process, that Tor Wennesland talked about needing bold
When we look at who's in the leadership right now, these people are not new. They've been around for a very long time. They've been doing this for
a very long time. I mean maybe they can come up with something new.
But there is nothing indicating that from either side, there's going to be some sort of new grand idea coming forth that could really help stop this
current cycle and really put the two sides on an actual path towards real negotiations.
ANDERSON: Hadas, good to have you. Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem. The time there is ten past six in the evening. As you just heard, we played some
sound for the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he was sitting alongside Secretary Blinken earlier today and he was emphatic about
his position regarding the ongoing conflict.
He said the Israeli government was responsible for the recent uptick in violence and called out a lack of international efforts to dismantle the
occupation his words, adding that the Palestinian Authority is now ready to work with the U.S. and the international community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABBAS: We are now ready to work with the U.S. Administration and the International Community to restore political dialogue in order to end the
Israeli occupation at the line of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, a Spokesperson for Mohamud Abbas Nabil Abu Rudeineh joins me now live from Ramallah. Sir has Antony Blinken's trip to Israel and the
West Bank been productive to your mind?
NABIL ABU RUDEINEH, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENCY SPOKESPERSON: First of all, I cannot hear you very well. There is a voice and there is your micro.
And if you could please make it clear before talking because I can't hear you.
ANDERSON: OK, can you hear me now, sir? Is that better?
RUDEINEH: Now it was much better. Yes.
ANDERSON: Oh, it's much better now, excellent. Should we carry on? Let's see whether we can get this done.
ANDERSON: Antony Blinken is about to leave the region he has been in Ramallah today. Has this trip been a success to your mind?
RUDEINEH: And the success depends on the results. So far we heard what we wanted to hear from the American side. He reiterated the commitment of
President Biden two state solutions, no unilateral actions, no expansion of settlements, no destructions of houses.
This is the agenda of President Mahmoud Abbas. So far, the Israelis are not listening. The Americans are exerting good efforts. We hear good speeches,
but the results on the ground are still zero. Escalating violence alone is not enough.
We should come back to the principles of the peace. If the Israelis are willing, if the Israelis are serious and if the Americans want to succeed,
we have to go back to the principles of peace which is the international law two state solution, not just the world has two state solution means two
independent states, Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital, otherwise we are talking the same old sad story.
ANDERSON: We are and many people watching this will say we are hearing the same sad old story. Let's talk about the - you talk about the two state
solutions and you're right to say that Antony Blinken has reaffirmed Joe Biden's commitment to a two state solution but he was very emphatic today.
He said we can't even get to discussions about that until there is an immediate calm an immediate restoration of calm and that that will take
bold leadership on both sides. And we have heard the same narrative from the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
We have been considering that there is no new leadership on either side. Hang on a minute, sir. Hang on. Do you genuinely believe that the
Palestinian Authority is led by a bold leader at this point? He is certainly not new nor are we seeing new leadership in Israel. What is bold
about what we are hearing from the Palestinian Authority at present? Tell me explain what it is that is bold and new?
RUDEINEH: First of all the violence is coming from the settlers - from the Israeli settlers, the destruction of houses by the Israeli army, the
killing on a daily basis. Can you believe that within 29 days the Israelis killed 35 Palestinian young people between 16 and 21?
70 percent of the firing is illegal, especially what they are doing in the West Bank. They are not talking about peace, they are talking about war.
Concerning the leadership, I can assure you that we have a serious, bold, very courageous leader who is ready, supported by his people.
Who is ready to sign peace on the basis of the international law on the basis of the foundation of peace, which means that we are ready if Israelis
are ready, but from what we see the Israelis are not serious. The Americans are not--
ANDERSON: You're not convinced? It is difficult. Hang on, let me just say. It is difficult to actually suggest that the Palestinian Authority
President is supported by his people when they haven't had a chance to vote on who they support now, for years, more than a decade.
Let me ask you in the wake of the Israeli raid on Jeanine last week that left 10 Palestinians dead 10 Palestinians lost their lives. You announced
that the Palestinian Authority will see security coordination with Israel. Are there any plans to reverse that decision? Is that something that the
U.S. Administration is pressing heavily for? And if not how much longer will you keep this suspension going?
RUDEINEH: The starting point that we should see a real American serious pressure on the Israeli government. The second issue, the Israelis should
abide by the law by the international law by stopping their settlers from incursions and from killing Palestinian people, civilian Palestinian
And concerning the election issue, I have to remind you that we are ready for elections. But the Israelis prevented us for taking for going to
Jerusalem to convene the elections. So far remain in the middle of Israel's will stop their rejection to our presence in East Jerusalem is out of
Jerusalem. We are ready for elections since today. Coming back to the violence--
ANDERSON: Not all Palestinians believe that to be the case. I did ask you, can I ask you one specific question which I am looking for a specific
answer on because I think it's so important. The security coordination between Israelis and Palestinians is now suspended? How long will that
RUDEINEH: It will stay like this until the Israelis come to the table by one magic word which was set by President Abbas today to Mr. Blinken. All
unilateral actions by Israel and by us can be stopped in one minute.
And we go back to the negotiating table to put everything on the table. But as long as the Israelis are doing all what they are doing, they are taking
all the unilateral actions against all their agreements against all the UN resolutions.
So far, we cannot come back to the security coordination. Security coordination - coordination means stopping all their violence, all their
incursions, all their killings, all their destruction of homes on the ground of the Palestinians.
The minute they are ready to stop all these things they will find President Abbas and the Palestinian leadership is ready to sit on the table and to
start talking again about how to revive the situation?
But so far, going back to the starting point, the Israelis should stop all these steps which are against the law against the Security Council
resolutions against the commitment of the American President and Mr. Blinken.
ANDERSON: Understood. It has to be said that the PA has grown increasingly unfavorable amongst Palestinians both inside and outside in the Diaspora.
CNN has spoken to young Palestinians in Ramallah who have expressed deep dissatisfaction with the leadership at present. Do you take some
responsibility so for that?
ANDERSON: And what hope that bold new leadership can be supported by Palestinians can be offered to Palestinians at this point?
RUDEINEH: For - I can tell you for one thing, we are living in a very democratic place here in the Palestinian Authority land. We are -
everybody's allowed to express his mind his ideas and freely without incitement without doing anything against the law. We are for elections, we
are supporting the movement of the young people, and we are ready to do whatever is needed.
The only problem we have is the occupation. The minute we are get rid of the occupation, the minute that we can be held responsible for any actions.
But can you believe that we are under siege, Gaza is under siege, the Palestinian cities are under siege, the deaths are on average, and on a
circle of every day.
So the minute we have a normal life, then you can come and ask me to live like any other country on Earth. In spite of that, we are committed to the
international law, we are committed to the free speech, we are committed to peace, if we have a partner, if we have a serious, really serious partner,
and a serious pressure from the American administration of Israelis.
The Americans are exerting good efforts, but without results, we need results on the ground. They are saying two state solution, where is the
second state there is an Israeli state, where is the other state? They are saying they want to defuse legislation.
ANDERSON: Understood. And I think we are slightly repeating ourselves now. I do understand we've had a good opportunity to have this discussion. And I
very much appreciate it. And I'm going to have to leave it there. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. The death toll from Monday's suicide
bombing at a mosque in Pakistan has risen to at least at 100. I'm going to take a very short break, have a drink of water, back after this.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. We are back in business. The death toll from Monday's suicide bombing at a mosque in Pakistan has risen to at least 100.
Rescuers say hope is fading in finding any more survivors in the rubble. Police believe that 12 kilograms of explosives were used by a suicide
bomber to target worship is made up mainly of police officers.
ANDERSON: And now the Pakistani Taliban, the TTP is denying its involvement after initially claiming that it was behind it. Ivan Watson reports.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dazed worshippers pulling themselves out from the rubble. A deadly blast hit this
mosque during afternoon prayers partially collapsing the building. The suspected attack targeting a police compound in Pakistan's north-western
city of Peshawar the victims likely mostly law enforcement caught off guard in a place of worship.
HAJI SHAHNAWAZ, WITNESS: We took out the injured and sent them to hospital. The dead bodies should all be inside the mosque buried under the rubble.
WATSON (voice over): Dozens are confirmed dead Pakistani police say with more than 150 injured. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned what he's
calling a suicide blast saying, "The brutal killing of Muslims prostrating before Allah is against the teachings of the Quran".
Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who performed the duty of defending Pakistan. Monday's blast was the worst the city has seen since
March of last year when a suicide bombing that ISIS later claimed responsibility for killed at least 61 at a Shia mosque during Friday
Leaders of Pakistan's rival political parties condemned the latest mosque bombing a country with a long history of deadly political violence, now
bracing for the threat of more possible suicide attacks. Ivan Watson CNN.
ANDERSON: Well Sophia Saifi is joining us now live from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad now. What more at this point do we know? Firstly,
about the search and rescue at the site of the attack, Sophia.
SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Becky regarding the search and rescue, we've been speaking to police officials on the ground. And they've told us that,
you know, as this is the second day of rescue efforts a second night and it's no longer a rescue effort. They're mainly just taking bodies out of
that problem. Now the mosque itself had the capacity for about more than 300 people.
100 people are now confirmed dead. More than 200 people are injured. The majority of the people who were worshipping within that mosque, it happened
during afternoon prayers. You've been told by police officials that a suicide bomber went in and detonated the explosive strapped onto him.
They're still investigating who it was. But like you mentioned earlier, we have been getting conflicting reports from the Pakistan Taliban. And, you
know, we had specific factions within the Taliban who claimed responsibility. And then the official spokesperson for the Pakistani
Taliban denied responsibility.
And the reason why the Pakistani Taliban are part of the conversation here again, in Pakistan is because just in November 2022, there was a ceasefire
between Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban and that fell apart. And after that's fallen apart, there's been a definite increase in attacks.
In the north of Pakistan, there was an attempted suicide attack. In the heart of the Capitol at the very end of December, there's been a heightened
sense of security. There's a heightened sense of deja vu, the majority of the young men who died in this attack that happened in Peshawar yesterday
what constables between the - in their late 20s, early 30s, late 30s.
This is an entire generation that came of age post 911 over the past two decades of militancy in this country. There was an attack in a mosque in
Peshawar last year in March; however, there weren't that many attacks in the interim. And what is the question that is being asked right now by the
people of Pakistan, amidst all this fear, and all this anxiety and all of these horrific memories that are being revived is what is the government
The Pakistani Prime Minister has said that terrorism is once again the greatest threat to Pakistan's national security. Pakistan is going through
an economic crisis; Pakistan is going through a political crisis. The people of this country want answers as to watch the previous successive
governments have done with regards to dealing with militancy in this country. Becky?
ANDERSON: Sophia Saifi is on the ground in Islamabad in Pakistan. Your insight and analysis very important at this point, thank you very much
indeed. Well, drones are proving to be crucial for Ukraine in 2023, as the country's Defence Minister announced 16 new contracts with local
Ukrainian soldiers using drones as their eyes in the sky to help stall Russian advancement in cities like Kreminna where the fighting is
intensifying, CNN's Fred Pleitgen was with Ukraine's frontline drone units there in Kreminna's forest as a scout for Russian positions. Have a look at
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ukraine's entire eastern front is now heating up. This is Russian infantry
in a massive firefight in the forest near the town of Kreminna. Close by we're creeping through the same forest with a Ukrainian frontline drone
unit called Dnipro-1, then scouts out Russian positions and direct Ukrainian fire. Drone operator Rooselan (ph) says working in the forest is
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All-time Work in tanks, a lot of artillery from different directions from Eastern from north.
PLEITGEN (voice over): But the team is often able to spot attempted Russian advances. Here Russian infantry are moving through the thick woodland, and
this tank leaves cover and opens fire towards Ukrainian positions. The Ukrainians liberated towns and villages in this area last autumn.
But the scars of battle are visible everywhere. This village like many of the ones in this area was heavily damaged when the Ukrainians moved in here
in fall. For a while it was quiet but now all that is changing, the fighting is coming back. And it's heavier than ever before.
That few people remaining those too poor or too old to flee, I asked Valentina if it's not too dangerous to stay here. Yes, it is dangerous, she
says but what can we do? Of course, it's dangerous, but we endure sometimes we hide, but now it's too cold at the basements.
The Russians have massively beefed up their forces around Kreminna. They believe they have to prevent the Ukrainians breaking through here to
sustain their own offensive against Bakhmut and are now also launching fresh attacks near Vuhledar further south.
This video near Vuhledar shows Russian armor getting hit by Ukraine's artillery. The soldiers run away a wounded comrade tries to crawl to
safety. In all these places, drones are critical to detect and to destroy the enemy. Dnipro-1 has its own drone workshop where NATO issue grenades
are literally sawn in half to be carried on drone.
-- Manufacture drone munitions in 20 minutes, and they've proven very effective in the conflict. Drone operator is one of the most dangerous jobs
the boss says as soon as they locate a drone operator; they use all kinds of weaponry artillery, MLRS tanks. We have a high rate of casualties among
drone pilots. In the forest Rooselan's mission is now over. But he sees a long battle ahead in a contest of wits and brute force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mostly last month our army goes - last I think two weeks maybe we stop and Russians making counter attack.
PLEITGEN (voice over): And all the time drones will shape the way this war changes Fred Pleitgen, CNN Zarichne, Ukraine.
ANDERSON: Well, in the United States is Tyre Nichols's family prepared to say their final goodbyes on Wednesday. The fallout continues from the
shocking video footage of the 29 year olds death at the hands of police emergency responders in Memphis, Tennessee, including firefighters and
medics now, under scrutiny.
Prosecutors say they're looking at anyone who had any kind of involvement in the incident. CNN's Ryan Young has the latest developments and I have to
warn you some of the images that you will see in this report are difficult to watch.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New fallout from a video that has shaken the country. Three members of the Memphis Fire
Department had been fired and two more police officers have been relieved of duty following the deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols.
Memphis police said Monday that those two officers are still subjects of an internal investigation. The five initial officers all of whom were black
were ultimately fired on January 20 after being placed on leave and then indicted last week on second degree murder and other charges.
And a release the Memphis Fire Department said the two EMTs and a fire Lieutenant failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Nichols
after he was pepper sprayed. One of the latest police officers to be placed on leave is wearing this body camera.
He's identified by Memphis police as officer pressing Hemphill, Hemphill who is white can be seen firing his Taser at Nichols falling initial
traffic stop January 7, after Nichols takes off running with other officers chasing him, Hip Hill's heard on his body cam. Source confirmed to CNN
Hemphill also a member of the now disbanded Scorpion unit.
YOUNG (voice over): He is seen here receiving a certificate for skilled training from the Memphis Crisis Intervention Team. Hemphill has not been
charged. His lawyer says his client never went to the second scene where the beating occurred and that is cooperating with the investigation.
Attorneys for the Nichols family released a statement saying in part, the news Monday from Memphis officials that officer Preston Hemphill was
reportedly relieved of duty weeks ago, but not yet terminated or charged, is extremely disappointing.
Why is his identity and the role he played in Tyre's death just now coming to light? Memphis Police have not released the name of the seventh officer.
Meanwhile, according to a spokeswoman for the Shelby County DA's office, all officers and first responders who were at the scene of the Nichols
arrest are being looked at for possible charges.
STEVEN MULROY, SHELBY COUNTY, TENNESSEE DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We were extraordinarily quick within less than three weeks we went from the
incident to a filing charges against the five officers who were primarily responsible for the death of Tyre Nichols and who were on that scene. Now
as to everybody else is going to take some time as we do that investigation. But I assure you, the investigation is ongoing.
ANDERSON: That was CNN's Ryan young in Memphis in Tennessee. Just ahead protesters expressed their fury on the streets of France. Is that
government listening? We'll be live in Paris up next.
ANDERSON: Well, it is a grey day in Paris where protesters are, quite frankly seeing red over the French government's controversial pension
reform plan. In fact, protesters have taken to the streets across the country as France is hit with what is a second round of strikes.
The walkouts are disrupting schools and transportation networks for its part the government says it needs the reforms to balance the books and
that's the bottom line, they say. We've got CNN's Melissa Bell standing by for us in Paris.
You know the government is making it very clear these reforms have to happen. But demonstrators in France have form here; they've been able to
force a climb down from the government in the past. Is that likely on this occasion?
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: You're quite right, Becky. It is precisely on the question of pension reforms such as sensitive nerve here
in France that they have in the past managed to get governments who are trying to reform the system to climb down. This time, Emmanuel Macron has
vowed to stand firm.
It was on January 19 you and I last spoke they were out in force them to just over a million people on the streets. This time again unions are
hoping to get that number or more than that on the street to show that they will not let this pause.
ANDERSON: All right, I've got a feeling that we may have lost Melissa's microphone there. Apologies for that give you a sense of the atmosphere
there in Paris at least and as we've been reporting over the last couple of hours, 200 strikes, 200 strikes in mid-January 275 in France expected
Well, these are live images from Marseille. Workers there furious over the government's plans to rise the retirement age by two years let's see if we
can get these images up for you. And the country is preparing for closures and chaos throughout the coming day this report from Melissa Bell.
BELL (voice over): The last protests against pension reform so more than a million people take to the streets of France, according to official
figures. Just over 10 days later, unions are hoping to top that. They're also calling for strikes across the public and private sectors, like the
ones that paralyzed so much of the country on January 19. But for now, the government hasn't budged.
OLIVIER VERAN, FRENCH GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON: We're not asking everyone to agree with the reform we're carrying out. What we want is, first of all, to
explain that this reform is essential, and that we must do it.
BELL (voice over): Currently, the French can retire at 62 or even earlier in some cases, with a minimum monthly government pension of around 1000
euros. Earlier this year this month, the French Prime Minister announced plans to rise the retirement age from 62 to 64, with a full pension raised
by an average of 100 euros a month.
STEPHANIE RIST, GOVERNMENT MP: The reform is necessary because the accounts are in deficit from this year. Our pension system is no longer balance and
by 2027, we are looking at a deficit of roughly 12 billion euros.
BELL (voice over): Pension reform has been derailed in the past in 1995 under then President Jacques Chirac; it also faced stiff resistance under -
FRANCOIS HOMMERIL, PRESIDENT, CFE-CGC UNION: This reform comes at a time when there's a lot of anger, a lot of frustration, a lot of fatigue. In
fact, it comes at the worst time where living standards down and the cost of living up. For some people, shopping bills are up by 20 or 30 percent
and rent hasn't fallen. And all of that creates a climate of defiance.
BELL (voice over): Largely peaceful defiance so far, but also anger with more than 70 people detained last time. Melissa Bell, CNN Paris.
ANDERSON: I'm going to call it a night for tonight because you got world sport coming up this evening at this time after this short break. From my
team here in Abu Dhabi, it's very good evening.