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America's Largest Banks Extend $30 Billion Lifeline to First Republic Bank; Chinese and Russian Presidents to Meet in Russia Next Week; Finland's President in Turkey for Talks on NATO Bid; Palestinian Authorities Say Four Killed During Israeli Raid; China's XI to Visit Moscow for the First Time Since Invasion; Protests Erupt Across France Over Pension Legislation. Aired 10-10:45a ET

Aired March 17, 2023 - 10:00   ET




Coming up this hour, major U.S. banks offer a $30 billion lifeline to First Republic. Xi Jinping will travel to Moscow to meet the Russian president on

Monday. Finland's president is in Ankara to discuss his country's NATO bid. And fury in France after Macron's tension overhaul.

$30 billion. That is how much 11 U.S. banks are depositing into troubled First Republic in the latest attempt to calm markets and investor fears.

Its shares tumbled after its credit rating was downgraded due to fears that customers would pull deposits, forcing banks to act after what has been a

tumultuous week for markets.

Here is how U.S. markets are reacting at present. Let's take a look at those for you. I'm getting our business anchor Julia Chatterley in place

for you.

Julia, the Dow off about half of one percentage point. The Nasdaq slightly higher, the S&P off a little bit. Those markets aren't really telling us

anything at this point. It has been a bad week for bank and bank shares, though. Is this panic over? Panic averted? Or what?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Yes. It's a great question. I think everybody is just relieved to get to Friday, quite frankly. I'll say it's

calmer. I think what authorities have proved on both sides of the Atlantic is that they're prepared to get creative and they can do it fast. I think

there is $30 billion deposit dump from some of the biggest banks in the United States, into one of the perceived weakest First Republic.

It's an important show of strength. Basically at the core of this weakness and what the cause of all of this is, is this concern from big depositors,

so those above $250, 000, that they're simply safer by putting their cash in a bigger bank. And this deposit dumped back to them doesn't address that

underlying concern. So I think we still have to be a bit cautious.

Glad that the authorities and the big banks are willing to step up and take action, but still cautious that the underlying fear for the depositors,

particularly the biggest, still remains. And so I think this is something that we're just going to have to watch. But I think we've made it to

Friday. We haven't seen another bank really struggle, and what they're showing here is that before we get to the point that we got to with Silicon

Valley Bank, they'll react.

And as far as Europe is concerned, the fact that the ECB was prepared to do what it did yesterday is another sign of confidence. So calmer I'll say for


ANDERSON: What's the Fed up to at this point?

CHATTERLEY: Yes. So that's the big news. What we learned in the financial crisis, what banks learned in particular is that when these kinds of things

happen do not get caught without cash. What we saw this week was monster loan taking from the Federal Reserve. In total, including this new facility

for the smaller banks to offload some of their government bond holdings, $165 billion worth of cash being drawn from the Federal Reserve.

Now if I compare that to what we saw last week that was $4.5 billion dollars, Becky. Some will look at this and say, look, that's the level of

stress in the system. I sort of look at this with a bit of context based on the financial crisis. This is banks saying, look, we're going to hoard cash

and make sure that if someone comes to us and says, hey, I want my deposits back, or we've got a problem, we're going to have it to provide. And that

shows sense and stability, too.

ANDERSON: Yes. And some resilience.


ANDERSON: What a week it has been. Have a good weekend.



ANDERSON: We have no idea -- yes, exactly. I was going to say, we have no idea what's going to happen next week. We may have a sense. Investors may

have a sense. They may be guessing. But until we get the minutes of that meeting, we won't know.


ANDERSON: All right, thank you. Julia Chatterley in the house for you.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Well, the closely watched meeting between the Russian and Chinese leaders will take place in Russia next week. Xi Jinping will be making his

first visit to Moscow since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine almost 30 months ago. China's Foreign Ministry says he will urge peace and promote

talks in his meeting with Vladimir Putin.


Will Ripley is connecting us from Taipei.

This is important because we do know that Beijing says at least it has a peace plan in principle. Do we know what Xi Jinping is taking to Moscow?

And have we any sense of how it will go down at this point?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, as you mentioned, the Chinese narrative is that this is, you know, to urge peace,

promote, talks and maintain China's objective and impartial position. And yet this is a significant trip because it's President Xi's first overseas

trip since his unprecedented third presidential term, you know, paving the way for leader for life, just like somebody else that he's about to go

visit, Vladimir Putin, who's also been in power, you know, over many, many terms and doesn't intend to give it up.

So Putin is waging this war and Putin needs things like ammunition, he needs weapons, he needs chips. China is already selling semiconductors to

Ukraine, or at least the ones that it produces. Not the ones that are sanctioned by the West that are far more sophisticated. So that's a

struggle that Russia is certainly trying to work around. But China is doing what they can at the moment to bolster Russia's economy, and in some of

these parts that they are supplying are being used in the war effort.

But if China decides, despite this public stance about peace in this peace plan to actually provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, to give Putin these

things that can actually turn the tide on the battlefield, potentially humiliate the United States and NATO and the West, and also perhaps give

momentum to this authoritarian movement in the world. You know, right now it's Russia, in the future it could very well, analysts say, be China

trying to take its own territory or at least an island that it thinks it's its own territory, even though they've never ruled it and of course that's

where I am right now, Becky, Taiwan. So a lot of people here watching this very closely as well.

ANDERSON: Yes. What goes on in one country certainly does not stay in one country. That is the maxim. Thank you.

Slovakia sending 13 fighter jets to Ukraine. The announcement to send those MiG-29s follows Poland's decision to send fighter jets. Ukrainian President

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged Western allies to send these planes. The military, sorry, the Kremlin today brushing off the Polish and Slovakian

assistance as, quote, "junk disposal."

Well, right now Finnish president Sauli Niinisto is in Turkey for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose country is considered the main

barrier to Finland and Sweden's entry into the alliance. Those objections stem from Turkey's allegation the two countries harbor Kurdish and other

suspected fugitives trying to extradite.

CNN's Nada Bashir is following this important meeting from Istanbul. Does it appear Finland will win Turkey's blessing without Sweden at this point?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Becky, that is appearing to be the likeliest scenario in this case and in fact that was acknowledged by

the Swedish prime minister earlier in the week, saying it seems as though Turkey feels prepared to ratify Finland's accession to NATO alliance, but

not ready just yet to ratify Sweden's accession. And that has been the message essentially that we've been hearing from President Erdogan and from

his Finnish counterpart.

Both alluding to the fact that this meeting today could well be the moment where Turkey announces that it is giving the green light for Finland to

join the NATO alliance. We heard from President Erdogan addressing reporters earlier in the week saying that Turkey is now prepared to do its

part. And his Finnish counterpart, for his part, saying that it was understood that in any instance that Turkey had come to the decision to

ratify Finland's accession to NATO, that there would be a face-to-face meeting between the two leaders.

And that Finland has in turn accepted that invitation. That is, of course, what we are seeing. Today. We saw the Finnish minister yesterday touring

the hard-hit province of Kahramanmaras which was the epicenter of last month's earthquake. Today, he is in Ankara. We saw his arrival gladly met

by President Erdogan at the presidential complex there. Those talks are still ongoing. They are said to be focusing on bilateral relations between

Turkey and Finland.

But of course, chief among the priorities they're being discussed is the possibility of Finland joining NATO. Now for the last few months we've seen

intense negotiations between Turkey, Finland, and Sweden. Of course, Turkey has been holding out on giving approval for both nations to join NATO but

its concerns have been primarily focused on Sweden, although it's important to remember that both Sweden and Finland expressed their intention earlier

last summer to join the alliance together.

But Turkey has accused Sweden of being too lax when it comes to its approach to groups in Sweden. That Turkey, rather, considers it to be a

terrorist organization, namely Kurdish groups in the country.


So those concerns continue to be an issue for the Turkish government when it comes to Sweden's accession to the NATO alliance. However, it does

appear as though Turkey is now moving towards accepting Finland's possible accession. That is certainly the expectation of today's press conference,

both leaders set to speak to members of the press jointly in just a couple of hours. It could happen in the next hour, in fact. And so we are waiting

to hear on that and whether or not this could possibly be a sign of Turkey softening its approach to Sweden over the coming weeks -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Nada, thank you. Nada Bashir is in Istanbul.

Well, we are watching what is the escalating violence in the West Bank. Palestinian officials say at least four Palestinians have been killed in

Jenin during Thursday's operation by the IDF. One of them was a 16-year-old boy. Have a look at this.

(VIDEO CLIP) ANDERSON: Well, this marks the latest round in what has become a brutal cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. And it comes as

protests escalate over the Israeli government's plan to overhaul the judicial system.

CNN's Hadas Gold joining us live from Jerusalem. What more are we learning at this point?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, regarding the operation in Jenin, it was another unusual middle of the day operation in Jenin. And from some

Palestinians in Jenin they say that it actually started with undercover security forces there before a larger security force came in.

Now the Israeli military said that they went in to go after two commanders of what they said was Palestinian Islamic jihad, although we are hearing

from the militant organizations that one was from Hamas and one was from Palestinian Islamic jihad. Now the IDF and both the militant groups say

that those two were killed. The other two who were killed, you know, IDF says at least one of them they say tried to attack one of their forces with

either a sledgehammer or a crowbar.

And then they say that there were other exchanges of fire. It's not clear if the other -- how the other two that were killed were fully involved in

the clashes or what exactly happened. But as you could see from the video you can see large groups of Palestinians out in the streets. Now according

to some reports I have seen they were surrounding cars, they believe held these Israeli special forces. You hear those gunshots.

We are also seeing some rather disturbing video of what is claimed to be Israeli security forces shooting at a man who appears to be either badly

wounded or already killed on this -- laying on the street. Now Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic jihad have threatened retaliation for this. And

sources I have spoken to in the past few weeks in the Israeli security establishment, when we've asked about this sort of regular raids that we've

been seeing and why they are at such a clip that they've been at, they essentially say that they are trying to do as much as they can, what they

call get all their objectives that they can.

That's how they describe it before Ramadan. Remember Ramadan starts this week. There has been huge concerns about that will mean for the situation

in Jerusalem, at the holy sites in Jerusalem. But the spokesman for the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel is not at

all interested in claiming the situation and preventing its irruption contrary to all international efforts, he says, seeking to prevent

escalation in the holy month of Ramadan.

As you were noting, Becky, it's only March right now, and already this year more than 84 Palestinians, actually might be even 88 Palestinians. Both

militants and civilians have been killed since the beginning of this year. 14 Israelis have been killed since the beginning of this year. All but one

of them were civilians. Meanwhile, actually on Sunday another summit is expected to take place in Sharm el-Sheikh between the Palestine Authority,

the Israelis, Jordanians, Egyptians, and Americans.

This is the follow-up meeting to what we saw in Aqaba a few weeks ago. Again, all of this with the aim of trying to calm the situation ahead of

Ramadan and ahead of the overlapping holiday of Passover when tensions are expected to flare if not explode here in Jerusalem. But as we can see on

the ground it doesn't seem as though the situation is at all calming down as the days inch closer to those holidays -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. And you're making some really, really good points. And during that Aqaba meeting, the first of these security and political

stakeholders both regional and international stakeholders coming together in Jordan last month. The understanding was that there would be no

unilateral -- no further unilateral actions taken by either side. And I think the argument is certainly on the Israeli side, that these raids into

these daylights sort of raids into Jenin and elsewhere perhaps go against that, although the wider story, I think, was sort of aimed at the expansion

of settlements.


This is so important. Thank you. The Sharm el-Sheikh meeting, of course we will keep a very, very close eye on.

Well, the United Arab Emirates says it will donate $3 million to help the Palestinian town of Huwara get back on its feet. Now dozens of Israeli

settlers rampaged there last month. They were retaliating for the killing of two set of brothers as they drove through Huwara in the West Bank.

Well, coming up here on CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, after a busy period of diplomacy in the Middle East, how will President Xi's visit

to Russia bode for the U.S.? We'll be breaking that down shortly. Plus, fury in France fueling a fresh wave of protests this time over the

government's decision to force through its pension reform without letting lawmakers take a vote. A live report from Paris is just ahead.


ANDERSON: 2023 is proving to be quite the year for the Chinese president Xi Jinping from securing an unchallenged, unprecedented third term as

president, to brokering diplomatic agreement between longtime foes Iran and Saudi Arabia. Well, now Mr. Xi is heading to Moscow Monday at what is a

critical time in the war in Ukraine.

Russia struggling to gain any ground in its eastern offensive. And the West increasingly worried that China will start supplying lethal weaponry to


Well, Jay Solomon is global security editor for the news Web site Semafor, was formerly chief foreign affairs correspondent for the "Wall Street

Journal." He joins me via Skype from Washington.

It has been quite the start. Quite the first three months for the Chinese president. Let's start with this visit to Russia on Monday. What do you

make of the timing?

JAY SOLOMON, GLOBAL SECURITY EDITOR, SEMAFOR: I mean, Xi really seems to be on a kind of a roll, trying to position himself as the great peacemaker in

the world, you know, following up on this deal between the Saudis and the Iranians. So, I mean, on the surface it looks like he is trying to expand

that. The kind of irony of it or the strange part is that the U.S. has been increasingly putting out comments that the Chinese might be sending weapons

to the Russians, which obviously would kind of block any attempts for the Chinese to really be some honest intermediaries.

So, yes, on the surface it looks like he is trying to expand his position of him as some great statesman.


But I guess the fear is like, is something else could happen. Is he going to, you know, move to some sort of military cooperation with the Russians,

which would really put the world in the dangerous spot?

ANDERSON: I wonder whether you think there is any sort of military strategy to the Chinese move into mediation in the Gulf, the Saudi-Iran

rapprochement brokered by Beijing. And let's be quite clear, there is a two-month period between now and when Tehran and Riyadh will sort of

exchange ambassadors again and reopen embassies. So they kingdom certainly wants to ensure that Tehran sticks to the rules of engagement as it were,

the rules of this game. And those aren't clear at present.

But what do you make of that? Certainly the talk here in the Gulf is that this is sort of China, to some degree usurping the U.S. in the Middle East.

But nobody has completely determined this has a military string to it as well. What are your thoughts?

SOLOMON: I mean, on the surface it really does feel more about kind of economics, energy. The Saudis want to tamper down tensions so that they can

really focus on internal, domestic, economic growth. Obviously China is a big part of that.

For the Iranians, it does seem like they, too, want to get out of the diplomatic box that they've been placed in. Better ties with Saudi Arabia

could also bring in economic growth. But there are some very kind of unclear elements of this deal like you said. A, are the Chinese really

going to be able to sort of muscle the Iranians into stopping their support for the Houthis? But to be one of the big on the military side is the

nuclear issue.

The Iranians have been -- the IEA said Iran is on the verge of producing weapons to create uranium. And as far as I can tell him from this

agreement, there's no mention of getting the Iranians or the Saudis to kind of keep their nuclear programs under wraps. And maybe the Chinese are not

concerned about it, as the U.S. and the West is. So I do think there are definitely military implications that the Chinese -- the Saudis, excuse me,

have been wanting to develop their own civilian nuclear program.

This includes being able to enrich uranium domestically. The U.S. is not supportive of that. The Chinese have some role in that program, in Saudi

Arabia. Maybe they're going to be more lenient on the question of the transfer of nuclear technologies to Saudi Arabia. So there definitely are

very kind of unknown military security implications from this agreement that no one really knows about right now.

ANDERSON: You have said that acquiring Russian jets and helicopters could be transformative for Iran's military. There is an awful lot going on just

in this conversation that we are having. But there is an awful lot going on with regards to global security at present. So I just want to get you to

explain a little further the conceit there of what you wrote.

SOLOMON: I mean, the irony the Iranians are still dependent basically on U.S. supply airplanes -- jet planes going back to the era of the Shah. So

their air force is very old. They're very dependent for outside, for parts of that air force. So the Iranians are now claiming -- they claimed to me

that they have basically completed the fine tuning of this agreement with the Russians, that would send them Sequoia fighter jets which could

definitely very much -- it's a fifth-generation kind of air force jet so it would very much upgrade their ability.

Like in the operations in Syria, where both the Russians and the Iranians are supporting the Assad regime. The Iranians have been totally dependent

on Russian air power on the ground. And if they can suddenly do get this fleet of SU-35 jets that would allow them to project power much more

aggressively in the Gulf and potentially in places like Syria where they're heavily involved.

So there is like a lot at play, like you said. How are the Russians and the Chinese kind of coordinating if the Chinese are trying to broker this

rapprochement between the Saudis and the Iranians, and the Iranians are suddenly getting much more technologically advanced jets, that's going to

change the balance of power in the Persian Gulf as well.


So there is a lot going on and I think it's really hard this soon to know how it's all going to shake up. But there is a lot of unanswered questions.

ANDERSON: Very briefly, the Iranian National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani meeting here in the UAE with the president and the Interior

minister in Abu Dhabi this week. What do you make of the UAE strategy at this point, given what you've just delineated?

SOLOMON: I think it's similar to what the Saudi calculations have been and that they are not particularly confident that the U.S. is going to be sort

of a security guarantor like we have been in the past. They know there is a lot of opposition in Congress, certainly the Democratic Party, to both the

U.S. Military support for the Saudis and the Emiratis. So I think it's a sign of them sort of hedging their bets.

They do not want a confrontation with the Iranians right now. They are not sure what role the U.S. is going to really play to sort of put a halt to

the Iranian nuclear program particularly because if they're this close, you know, five or 10 years ago, if the Iranians were enriching uranium about at

85 percent there'd be an absolute international outcry. Instead, it's been pretty measured particularly from the United States.

So I think the Iranians and the Saudis are hedging their bets. They're trying to keep tensions down with the Iranians. And that's why we're seeing

all this engagement. It's in this environment where all the great powers are sort of realigning themselves and I think both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh are

like, we're going to hedge our bets as well because it's really unclear how this is going to shake out going forward.

ANDERSON: It is also very unclear how what is going on domestically in Israel will shake out both domestically and here in the Gulf and in the

U.S. What do you make of what we are seeing at present and its impact?

SOLOMON: It's definitely unprecedented from what I've seen as far as the amount of distasteful what the Netanyahu government has done on this

judicial issue. Even in the United States, you've seen a lot of very public criticism from Congress, from Jewish American groups. Critical of it.

The question on the security fund is a good one. The prime minister is facing this much opposition internally, you've got unrest in the West Bank.

But you've also had both Netanyahu and Israeli officials say, you know, if the Iranians -- this redline of 90 percent. If the Iranians enrich to 90

percent that's a red line, i.e., suggesting there might be military engagement, military acts.

It is a little hard to see Israel kind of engaging in such an operation with this much upheaval. I guess a cynic might say he'd do it to sort of

change the political calculation. But it does seem it's that much internal instability, and Israel, you would think, would potentially handcuff the

government's ability to act militarily, especially in something that would be that potentially combustible as operations against Iran.

ANDERSON: It is never boring in this region of the Gulf and Middle East. The role that you have as a global security editor for the news Web site

Semafor is a fascinating one at present. So I thank you very much indeed for joining us. We will have you back.

Well, a new round of protests in France after the government there forced through controversial pension reforms. And the move not going over well.

That is after this.



ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. Excuse me. Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Here are your headlines this hour.

Eleven U.S. banks have deposited $30 billion in troubled First Republic in the latest attempt to calm markets and investor fears. And that caps a

jittery week for markets after the failure of two U.S. banks and worries over Swiss lender Credit Suisse.

Well, the Chinese and Russian presidents will meet in Russia next week. The Chinese Foreign Ministry says Xi Jinping will urge peace and promote talks

in his meeting with Vladimir Putin. The visit comes amid the West's increasing skepticism over China's self-declared mutual stance in Russia's

war in Ukraine.

Well, outrage and anger spilling over into the streets across France after President Emmanuel Macron and his government forced through what is an

unpopular pension plan, without a full vote by lawmakers. The decision made despite weeks of strikes and demonstrations by opponents.

Well, that contentious legislation which raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 would likely have been defeated in the national assembly, so instead

Mr. Macron used special constitutional powers to enact it. And that sparked a fresh wave of protests across the country overnight. Some of them turning

violent with demonstrators starting fires and clashing with police.

CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley has the very latest. He's on the ground in Paris.

Sam, people obviously furious. Is there any chance of this being undone? I mean, what happens next?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, here, and we're just outside the Assembly National, the national assembly. You can

see the riot police have been out in force. There's a similar number on the neighboring bridge. We're on the edge of the Place de la Concorde. And this

is in anticipation of what happened last night which was sparked, as you rightly say in your introduction there, Becky, by the presidential

decision, reinforced by the prime minister in the national assembly, to ram through legislation in spite of the fact that it was looking like it was

not going to pass democratically effectively.

Now this is a quirk essentially of the French constitution that allows for this. Essentially I think many critics of the Macron government and of the

governing party is that this is a sort of legislation that's supposed to be used in a national emergency, not in terms of fiscal or economic reform or

change. Nonetheless, the next stage will be probably early next week, a number of different parties have tabled motions of no confidence in the

minority government.

This is not a government that has a majority in terms of Macron's ruling Renaissance Party. It has to get every piece of legislation through by

negotiation. And therefore it is vulnerable, ultimately, to a vote of no confidence. The one aspect of hope that Macron will have is that it's also

highly divided, very raucous parliament in its own right politically. So in order to get a vote of no confidence you have to get a lot of people who

are not confident bed fellows to vote in the same direction, under the same umbrellas.


So the hope for Macron's perspective is it can weather this storm, and therefore raise the pension age in this country from 62 to 64. Not for

Anglo-Saxons in particular, for many people around the world, a major revolutionary change. But it's one that's been on his agenda since 2019 and

he has been struggling ever since to try to ram through these sorts of economic reforms here -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Absolutely. Good to have you, Sam. Thank you very much indeed, Sam Kiley is in Paris for you.

Let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar. Right now search teams are working to recover bodies in Turkey where

torrential rains caused deadly flooding. These tragic scenes happening in the same area that was hit by a massive earthquake just weeks ago. State

news agencies put the death toll left there at 18.

Well, a missile fired into the waters of the East Coast of the Korean peninsula on Thursday marks the fourth time in less than a year North Korea

has launched a long-range ballistic weapons. Images released by state media show leader Kim Jong-un overseeing that launch.

A massive seaweed bloom is impacting beaches on the Caribbean Island of Barbados. Officials say the smelly sargassum seaweeds is hurting tourism.

It's so big data its blob can be seen from space, stretching from the coast of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to hit Florida beaches in


Well, coming up, we're down to the final eight teams in the UEFA Champions League and we're going to talk more about the most anticipated quarter

final matchups after this short break. Don't go away.


ANDERSON: Well, since 2014 a Tanzania based charity known as WoteSawa has rescued hundreds of children from human trafficking, from child labor and

from domestic servitude.

And CNN's latest Freedom Project documentary "Fighting for Mercy," domestic workers are empowered to advocate for their rights. Here is just part of

that documentary for you.



driver. They drove for about five hours from one city to Mwanza City to (INAUDIBLE) Village. They talk to had landed in Maza, that we're here to

take you to see you granddaughter.

Imagine, it's now eight years since she left home. I think she didn't believe that she was going to see my sister, everyone. She didn't believe



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) was waiting for her grandmother to come. She was really moved. I could feel her shaking, trembling with both joy and


BENEDICTO: When the car arrived at WoteSawa shelter, it was emotional moment to all of us, but to (INAUDIBLE) was so emotional. When her

grandmother get out of the car, starting to walk to meet her granddaughter for 80 years resulting in her, it was so emotional. They cried. They

hugged. I think everyone of us were so emotional. We were in tears of Joy.


ANDERSON: Well, we are getting breaking news out of a meeting between the presidents of Finland and Turkey regarding Finland's accession into NATO.

Let's get you straight over to Nada Bashir who is in Istanbul with the very latest. What have we got?

BASHIR: Well, look, President Erdogan has now in just the last few minutes given the greenlight for Finland to be ratified for its accession to join

NATO alliance. So that has been the key focus of negotiations between Turkey and Finland over the last few weeks and months. There have been

intense negotiations. And of course that was certainly the focus of today's talks between President Erdogan in Ankara with his Finnish counterpart.

They have been having talks in the last few hours now and that is the announcement that we have just heard in that joint press conference.

I can just read you a bit from what we've heard from President Erdogan. He said, "I believe that NATO will become even stronger through Finland's

membership who will play a more efficient role in preserving global security and stability. And with the completion of the ratification

process, our relationship with Finland will be fortified on the grounds of the NATO alliance."

So this is a significant step for those relations between Finland and Turkey. And of course there remains the question of Sweden's accession to

join NATO. Of course earlier last year, Finland expressed its intention to join NATO alongside Sweden. Now President Erdogan says those steps will be

taken with discussions to be held with Sweden on the basis of the fight against terrorism.

ANDERSON: Where does this leave Sweden very, very briefly?

BASHIR: Look, Becky, Turkey has been clear in the last few weeks and months over the course of those negotiations, they believe the Swedish government

has taken too lax an approach when it comes to dealing with groups, who the Turkish government considers to be terrorist organizations, namely Kurdish

groups in Sweden.

This has been the subject of intense talks between the two nations. Turkey now says, as we heard in that joint press conference from President

Erdogan, that this decision to ratify the ascension of Finland to NATO shows Turkey the intentions when it comes to the NATO process. So there

will certainly be further talks between Sweden and Turkey over the coming weeks.

ANDERSON: Nada, thank you. Nada is in Istanbul for you.

We will take a very short break. "WORLD SPORT" for you after that. We're back with second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD at the top of the hour. A few

minutes just before quarter to 7::00 here in Abu Dhabi. See you at 8:00.