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Connect the World
Zelenskyy Invites Xi to Ukraine; Biden: Not Inviting Netanyahu to White House in "Near Term"; South Korean & U.S. Troops Practice Amphibious Invasion; Biden Kicks Off "Summit for Democracy"; Protectors of the Sea; Afghan Toddler Reunites with Family in Doha. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired March 29, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST: America's President says Benjamin Netanyahu will not be invited to Washington anytime soon after, he rejected Joe Biden's
call to drop Israel's judicial overhaul. This hour we explore the crucial relationship between these two countries.
First up, though Joe Biden is hosting a virtual summit for democracy today with 120 countries. Washington says it is an effort to bolster democracies
around the world in the face of the growing influence of authoritarianism.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has extended a formal invitation to his Chinese counterpart to visit his war torn country. The gesture coming
just a week after Xi Jinping visited Vladimir Putin and the Russian Capital. Saudi Arabia will join the Shanghai Cooperation Council as a
dialogue partner; a move coming amid growing ties between the Kingdom and China.
Well, King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla are in Germany for their first overseas trip as Monocracy. King hopes to renew and strengthen relations
with his European neighbors after Britain's exit from the EU.
Well, this is the second hour of "Connect the World" wherever you are watching, you are more than welcome. Not in the near term that is what
President Joe Biden said when asked if he would invite Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington.
The U.S. President again expressing concern about Israel's judicial overhaul proposal saying he hoped the Prime Minister would act in a way
that would bring about a genuine compromise. But that remains to be seen. So tonight we ask is Washington losing patience with Netanyahu.
My next guest, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel accuses Benjamin Netanyahu's government of reneging on written commitments that Israel has
made to the U.S. by for example, allowing what he calls creeping annexation in the West Bank.
Daniel Kurtzer says there's no excuse for anybody to break promises whether Israel or the United States. If there's a verbal commitment that's broken
you say, well, that's not nice and you move on. It's quite different when commitments like this are criticized and memorialized in legislation.
Well, Daniel Kurtzer joins me now via Skype from Washington. It is good to have you with us. I'll put our very question to you right out of the gate
here, sir. Is Washington losing patience with Netanyahu?
DANIEL KURTZER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISREAL AND EGYPT: Well, I think the President made that clear yesterday with his statement that came after
Prime Minister Netanyahu had announced a pause in the legislation on the judicial overhaul.
It's quite serious between the two countries now, and I think it mostly has to do with a decline in trust. The President has signaled early on our
concern about the inclusion in Netanyahu's cabinet of some very challenging personalities, felons' racists, misogynist, and so forth.
Netanyahu had assured him that he Netanyahu could control the cabinet. But this judicial overhaul business has proved otherwise. So Netanyahu is going
to have to do some work to build - rebuild trust with the President.
ANDERSON: Let's talk about some of those characters. Ben-Gvir is one of them right wing, far right Ultra nationalist minister who said this earlier
in response to Joe Biden's very specific comments about Benjamin Netanyahu not having an invite to Washington anytime soon.
Ben-Gvir said it seems to me that both President Biden and all the administration officials in the U.S. should understand that Israel is an
independent country. It is not another star in the U.S. flag. We are a democratic regime. And I expect the U.S. President to understand this fact.
Well, the fact is much of what Ben-Gvir believes in is completely undemocratic of course. How toxic is Ben-Gvir, for example, in Washington?
KURTZER: Oh, he's totally unacceptable. We already saw that one of his colleagues in the cabinet the Finance Minister, Betzalel Smotrich visited
Washington and nobody would meet him here. Ben-Gvir I don't think would get a visa given his felony in the past and his overt racism a member of the
He's really quite malign character. And he makes no - there are no secrets about what he wants to do, not only annexation in the West Bank, but he
wants to clamp down even on Israel's Arab citizens in a very detrimental way.
KURTZER: And one of the problems Becky is that when announcing the pause, Netanyahu said that he was going to give Ben-Gvir, a National Guard a kind
of militia under his control, and this could be extremely dangerous.
ANDERSON: Yes, it's been described certainly by Ben-Gvir's critics, but by many across the board as a private militia. And people have real concerns
about that. Shouldn't the Biden Administration Joe Biden himself be calling out these characters directly for that racist rhetoric and actions?
KURTZER: Well, I think in cases like this, you normally would call upon the leader, in this case, the Prime Minister, to rein in the cabinet, I think
the U.S. would have preferred that these people not be included in the cabinet. And now it's up to Netanyahu to prove that he can control them.
And frankly, until now, that's not been the case.
So I don't think that President Biden will get specific with these individuals who don't want to give them status. But I think that it
Netanyahu has got to do something about the rhetoric coming out of his coalition partners against the United States.
ANDERSON: I wonder whether you genuinely believe in that Joe Biden has leaned into Netanyahu with exactly what you have just suggested; I don't
want to see these guys in your cabinet. We're not going to do business with you, if these over racists are members of your cabinet.
Is it clear whether he's actually done that? Certainly, it seems clear that Joe Biden is very disappointed that Benjamin Netanyahu is only paused this
judicial reform but hasn't suspended indefinitely.
And that clearly is some part of where this trust deficit is coming from. How much pressure do you genuinely believe Joe Biden is putting on
Netanyahu at this point because you know, he's doesn't seem to be looking for an off ramp anytime soon?
KURTZER: Well, it's interesting. Normally, you see a little bit of reality in what statesmen and diplomats will say publicly, whereas behind closed
doors, there's a different story. So I wouldn't be surprised at all, if our rhetoric with Netanyahu has been much tougher, even than what we're hearing
from the President publicly.
And the fact that the President has now really upped the game a little bit by announcing publicly that there are no invitations and Netanyahu suggests
that the private conversations have probably been extremely tough.
ANDERSON: How much further does a Biden Administration go there? What leverage do you genuinely believe it might use should, to their mind things
KURTZER: Well, it's hard to know if, for example, the judicial reform discussions that are now being held by President Herzog in Israel fall
apart and I think the United States might start cutting back on some programs that are normal.
I don't think we're going to cut into our security cooperation, given the importance of security in Israel's position. But we have dozens and dozens
of programs with Israel. And any diminution in support of those programs would be meaningful.
There's also an announcement today that Israel may be eligible for visa waiver program this summer. And that's something that's hanging over both
sides right now and could be used to tell the Israelis that we're not supportive of what they're doing. So there are a number of things that can
be done if the President decides that he must ramp up the pressure.
ANDERSON: OK. So how far does Netanyahu go without conceding to any demands from Washington before this administration says we are going to start
considering - what would normally be an ironclad security guarantee for Israel?
KURTZER: You know, Becky, one of the most curious aspects of this crisis is the fact that Netanyahu who normally is risk averse and who normally bills
himself as kind of Mr. America, I know how to handle the United States has done the opposite.
Bringing these folks into his cabinet allowing them to dominate the agenda, getting into this quarrel and now escalating the quarrel with the United
States is very out of character. I dealt with Netanyahu when I was Ambassador in a very productive way. He was the Finance Minister, and we
were able to do business.
But this is a different Netanyahu and it's hard to understand it, unless it really all comes down to what people assume, which is that he wants to get
out of jail free card from his coalition, and therefore will do anything in order to assure that he gets that from them, even risking a confrontation
with the United States.
ANDERSON: Well, it's a risky strategy at this point, clearly. Look, you are calling on the Biden Administration to be more proactive in stopping what
you have called Israel's creeping annexation of the West Bank. Sir with respect so far, we've seen no real evidence of that. Is the Biden
Administration failing on that front?
KURTZER: Well, I think much more can be done. We recently saw that there were two meetings held in Aqaba, Jordan and in Sharm el Sheikh Egypt, in
which Israel did undertake some commitments to scale back on settlements and other malign occupation practices.
And I think then the administration which participated in those meetings now has to hold Israel's feet to the fire. So yes, I think more could have
been done until now. But there's some maybe positive signs coming out of those meetings in Jordan and Egypt.
ANDERSON: Yes. The wording Aqaba and in Sharm el Sheikh, of course, was no new settlements. You know, we are certainly seeing creeping annexation,
whether that is in new settlements, or, you know, otherwise, you know, settlements that had been agreed wouldn't be worked on.
We've also, you know, got a commitment from the both sides, Israelis and the Palestinians for no unilateral actions that would raise the tensions or
escalate violence, and frankly, the Israelis are not - they are not keeping to that at all. Are they at this point?
KURTZER: No, until now, Israel has not been living up to its commitments. As you noted at the top of the hour, the legislation that has now undone
the disengagement law that will permit the rebuilding of forced settlements in the West Bank.
And the fact that they're planning to "Legalize" illegal outposts settlement outposts, suggests that one has to be very wary of whether or
not these new commitments will be upheld. But that's why I think the administration now has an opportunity. OK, you have these two meetings.
These are renewed talks between Israel and the PLO. And maybe this time the administration can hold both sides' feet to the fire.
ANDERSON: Yes, we can only hope. Netanyahu not just being given the cold shoulder by Washington and by the U.S. President, of course, but by
Israel's Arab partners, namely those party to the Abraham Accords.
Just yesterday here in the UAE, where I'm broadcasting from we saw the Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, here in the UAE meeting with
the country's ruler. We know that Benjamin Netanyahu wants an invitation here that has not been forthcoming. And yet we see other significant
Israelis here working through the process.
That is, you know the business and bilateral trade that comes with the Abraham Accord. How damaging how concerning will that is for Benjamin
Netanyahu after all, you know, the pillar that was the Abraham Accords, he owned that, didn't he?
KURTZER: Well, you know, it's a little disappointing that there hasn't been more response from the Abraham Accord countries to what's happening, and
I'm not looking for pressures. I'm not looking for sanctions.
But one would expect the United Arab Emirates which played a crucial role in 2020, in stopping annexation that the UAE would now speak up and let
Prime Minister Netanyahu know that normalization includes normalization between Israel and the Palestinians. In other words, you can't only fix
Israel's domestic problems, but you have to also think about the occupation.
So, you know, one is hopeful that the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and others will see the value in using their relationship with Israel to promote Israeli
Palestinian political pathway. So far, that has not really been the case. But maybe that's in the offing.
ANDERSON: Good to have you on sir. Your analysis and insight is extremely important to us and what is an extremely important story. Thank you very
much indeed for joining us. I want to bring in our International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson. You were listening to what Daniel Kurtzer has said
that what do you make of what you heard?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I'm very struck by, you know, your discussion there about the previous tensions between the
Biden Administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not this internal Israeli issue of reform of the judiciary, but the tensions that
were spiking with Palestinians the expansion of settlements that was going on earlier this year.
And at that time, Secretary Blinken came here, and the language that he was using then, when Secretary Blinken spoke about, you know, we have frank
discussions between ourselves the language that Prime Minister Netanyahu was using back then sounds very similar to the language that he's using
Trying to sort of brush off this clearly deteriorating relationship with Israel's biggest and most important ally, the one that guarantees its
security in a region that can potentially be very hostile to Israel. And he was again back then saying, I have this long relationship with President
Biden that has gone on for 40 years, our relationship and go up and down.
But we are two very powerful democracies, and we're very strong together. That narrative I think is going to wear thin that pressure from the White
House hasn't just started today. It's been going on a while.
And it is that core issue, that there's some unpalatable characters for the United States, and Prime Minister Netanyahu's cabinet and that is as long
as this cabinet exists that tension seems to be going on precisely as the Former Ambassador was saying, because Netanyahu is not despite him saying
he's the driver, his hands on the steering wheel. He's not fully in control of his cabinet, and that's becoming more and more apparent.
ANDERSON: Nic it's good to have you, Nic on assignment in Jerusalem. Thank you. Well, the time now is 16 minutes past 7 here in the UAE. You can
follow the story online and with insight and analysis from the region in our "Meanwhile in the Middle East Newsletter".
Today, we ask what options Netanyahu has as he faces growing international pressure over his government's judicial overhaul and settlement expansion
plans? That's the "Meanwhile in the Middle East Newsletter". Log on in your phone and find out how you can subscribe.
Well, coming up on "Connect the World" even though Mr. Netanyahu won't be invited to Washington anytime soon he did still speak virtually at
President Biden's Democracy Summit. We're going to tell you what he said coming up plus, Ukraine's President reportedly extending his own invite to
China's Leader who's fresh off a visit of course, to Russia.
ANDERSON: The Head of the IAEA is reportedly working with both Kyiv and Moscow to secure the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. According to Russian
state media during a visit to the Russian occupied plant today, Rafael Grossi said hostilities around it are intensifying and measures must be
taken to protect it from further attack.
Well, meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has invited Xi Jinping to visit Ukraine. In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr.
Zelenskyy said he wants to engage directly with a Chinese leader who's fresh off a state visit to Moscow. Well, CNN's Senior International
Correspondent Ben Wedeman is on the ground in eastern Ukraine.
And, Ben, as you and I speak, we are hearing hints from the Ukrainians now that with the newly delivered military hardware, they may be looking at an
offensive beginning in April or May. What do you make of that?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): No surprise, really. There's been intense speculation now for weeks. Now that
the Russian offensive has petered out, that it's the turn of the Ukrainians and all indications on the ground, as well as from other statements from
officials on the Ukrainian side is that indeed an offensive is coming.
The timing is very unclear. Now at the moment, most of the fighting is focused around the town of a Bakhmut where for seven months the Russians
have tried, but so far failed to take that city. But as that fighting continues to be intense, the towns around Bakhmut on the Ukrainian side of
the front line are being severely battered.
There isn't much to be salvaged from this business in Sloviansk, demolished Monday morning in a Russian strike. Oleg, his wife and some friends are
loading up what's left. I'm still in shock, says Oleg. I'm 62 years old and I've invested my heart and soul and money to build it. And now that I'm
old, it's been destroyed.
The attack killed two people and injured more than 30, the likely target an army recruiting office next door. In hospital, one of the victims lies
unconscious, a 30-year-old woman a wall fell on her, fracturing her skull and damaging her internal organs. Surgeon - has struggled since the war
began trying to mend shattered lives and bodies. Unfortunately, I've had to treat many serious injuries caused by mines and explosions he says. To the south in Krasnodar - another Russian attack hit
just next to this kindergarten, fortunately empty since the war began.
WEDEMAN (on camera): Strikes like this happen on a daily basis. This one occurred late on Monday evening.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Hours afterwards workers make repairs. This area is regularly hit. They may be back here soon. Down the road in constant
Donivka closer to the front only a few residents remain. 73-year-old - isn't going anywhere, putting her faith in a higher power.
God protects me, she says, God will save me. If not, it is what it is. - sells seeds and other supplies to a dwindling community, optimistic
gardeners everyone is scared, he tells me, only idiots aren't until now I'm here, but I evacuated my children. Not all children have left however, one
finding solace on a swing amidst the ruins.
ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is reporting for you. Well, thousands of South Korean and U.S. troops are conducting large scale military exercises. This is an
annual event that always raises North Korea's ire. But on Wednesday morning, the allied troops practiced an amphibious invasion, a maneuver
that's designed to take territory not defend it. And that puts the firepower of the U.S. and South Korean forces on full display this report
from Paula Hancocks.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. and South Korean Presidents pledged last year to expand joint military drills; they set to counter the
increasing threat from North Korea. And that's exactly what they're doing.
HANCOCKS (voice over): A ship to shore assault grounding of fighting force and equipment will try to maintain the element of surprise.
HANCOCKS (on camera): This is the drill that North Korea always reacts to the idea of American and South Korean Marines storming a beach on the
Korean peninsula. Pyongyang sees this as a dress rehearsal for an invasion. Now the South Korean and American line has always been that this is
defensive in nature.
HANCOCKS (voice over): 2500 U.S. marines and sailors, 3000 South Korean marines and sailors working together on one large scale joint drill the
U.S. Landing Craft Air Cushion or LCAC bringing to shore all that's needed for the early stages of battle.
HANCOCKS (on camera): But we haven't seen this level of drills on the Korean peninsula for five years, multiple tours across the country of South
Korea they're being held on land, at sea and in the air.
HANCOCKS (voice over): We gained rare access behind the scenes of this training. Flying out to the U.S. amphibious assault ship the USS make an
island. On the back of North Korean missile launches, and disputed claims of simulated underwater nuclear weapons tests, this is a drill that will be
watched carefully in Pyongyang.
HANCOCKS (on camera): We're about 30 nautical miles from shore at this point, and this is one of the out - that is being loaded up right now,
ready for an amphibious landing.
HANCOCKS (voice over): The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit is meant for rapid response to any kind of crisis, military or humanitarian, self-
sufficient and often the first to arrive in an emergency. But with a five- year gap in training due to COVID-19 and previous diplomatic efforts with North Korea, there is an element of catching up.
CAPT. TONY CHAVEZ, USS MAKIN ISLAND: We've had to start from the basics. Again, there are some things that we're relearning. I mean, the basic is
just as communications between ships, between aircraft and then a partner or an ally here in this region.
HANCOCKS (voice over): North Korean military moves that appear are not the main focus here.
COL. SAMUEL L. MEYER, 13TH MARINE EXPEDITIONARY UNIT: It's in an area of the world that's significant right now. But it is routine. It has been
scheduled. We've done this many times. So, the fact that those things are happening around us, really our focus is just on the exercise.
HANCOCKS (voice over): Interoperability is the most used term during this drill, working on smooth American Korean maneuvers.
CAPT. AARON PADEN, OSPREY PILOT: We're used to this now. And so, if we have to do this for real, we already done it. We've already worked with the
Republican screen. And we know how to operate with that.
HANCOCKS (voice over): A U.S. return to large scale drills in a region of both allies and adversaries.
HANCOCKS (on camera): And it's not just about North Korea, but also Russia. The commander of the USS Makin Island told us that during this drill, they
actually had a Russian intelligence ship shadowing them at a distance of some 50 nautical miles. He called it "Pretty routing" Paula Hancocks, CNN,
Pohang, South Korea.
ANDERSON: Well, coming up next on "Connect the World" with me Becky Anderson, President Biden's democracy summit gets underway in Washington.
We're going to break down the state of democracy for you across the world. And I'll be talking to a top climate lawyer about trying to make the
world's biggest polluters pay for the climate crisis in light of a landmark vote at the UN today. More on that is coming up.
ANDERSON: Welcome back, you're watching "Connect the World" with me Becky Anderson. Your headlines this hour and starting off with Benjamin Netanyahu
calling the Israeli U.S. alliance unshakable after U.S. President Joe Biden again, voice concerns over Israel's judicial overhaul plan.
The Prime Minister spoke today at a virtual summit co-hosted by Mr. Biden. On Tuesday, the president said he's not planning on inviting Mr. Netanyahu
to Washington personally anytime soon. And Taiwan's president is now on route to New York for a diplomatic mission is being condemned by China.
Beijing is threatening to fight back if President Tsai Ing-wen meets with the U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. China staged more games on Taiwan
last year when top U.S. officials visited Taipei. Well, King Charles and the Queen Consort arrived in Germany just a short time ago.
It's his first official overseas visit since becoming the British Monarch. Charles is meeting with the German president and will deliver an address to
the Bundestag on Thursday. President Biden's second virtual summit for democracy is underway today. It aims to bolster democracies in the face of
growing authoritarian influence around the world or at least that's its billing.
The Biden Administration plans to announce new steps to counter the abuse of misuse of technology, including spyware while this summit is going on.
Well, embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the event earlier after delaying his controversial judicial reform bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: And we have to make sure that as we shift the pendulum from one side of an ever-powerful judiciary, which is
different from an independent judiciary. How do we ensure that the judiciary remains independent, and that we balance the need to strengthen
the executive and the legislative and at the same time, protect individual rights? I think that balance can be achieved. That's why I've promoted a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: That's why he has, he says promoted a pause. Let's bring in CNN's Senior Politics Reporter, Stephen Collinson. Always good to have you! How
does what we heard from Netanyahu fit into the kind of wider story here? And I wonder how this summit fits into President Biden's foreign policy
goals when clearly there are countries here who are sliding towards illiberal democracy, let us put it like that.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Right, Becky, it's rather awkward that at the moment when President Biden brings back this central
core of his foreign policy promotion of global democracy back. There are real concerns in the United States not only about democracy in Israel,
where we've seen this quite sharp commentary from the president over the last 24 hours about what's going on there.
But also in other allied U.S. countries, people are very worried about what's going on south of the U.S. border in Mexico, for example, with
questions of whether democracy is being rolled back there. Take a look at India, which is a fulcrum of U.S. foreign policy in Asia, very important
for the president as he tries to build an informal front against China.
There are great concerns about Prime Minister Modi's behavior, rollback of democracy press freedoms. We recently saw the opposition leader Rahul
Gandhi kicked out of parliament over a defamation case involving the prime minister. So yes, there are great concerns. Some people are saying that
this shows that Biden's campaign is hollow that is not working.
I think equally you could argue that this makes this summit and President Biden's foreign policy even more important, placing the protection of
democracy not just abroad. But indeed, in the United States with the increasing threats again from former President Donald Trump that makes it
even more important to discuss these issues. So, it's certainly timely even though it is somewhat awkward.
ANDERSON: It's an interesting one, isn't it? As I understand it, this was something that was part of this sort of campaign for presidency by Joe
Biden and his team. They had promised this summit, it happened the first time in 2021 in December that was in the sort of, you known, in the throes
of COVID at the time.
So, it was held virtually 15 months later, and of course, with a war in Ukraine really are pending, so much of, of what is going on. Once again,
this is held virtually. And I just wonder how you feel that the sort of optics of this go down?
Quite frankly, I think the story is here that the Biden Administration either couldn't or didn't want to get over 100 leaders together in the same
room where, you know, there was a real mix, when it comes to the sort of measure of democracy that many of those leaders, quite frankly, are
responsible for at this point.
COLLINSON: Right. Of course, there are all sorts of these diplomatic niceties. And whenever you decide you're going to have a summit of this
kind, whenever, in fact, the United States puts democracy or human rights at the center of its foreign policy has happened many times in the past,
there are always inconsistencies.
People say, well, why you're aligning with this country, when you say you have human rights. But you're doing it for national security reasons,
because it's a vital, regional player, for example, this is always brought up in the case of Saudi Arabia.
So, I take your point, and I think you're right, that getting all these leaders, even coming up with a list that could actually come to the United
States who is democratic enough, is very difficult. Because when you decide that some countries are democratic enough, but then you reject other allies
you need for things, you're causing all sorts of diplomatic problems for yourself.
Having said that, I think that Joe Biden actually believes this he believes that democracy is under threat, that it's the greatest threat to the
Western world. If you look at two of his central foreign policy priorities, the war in Ukraine and standing up to China, and, you know, allowing Taiwan
the means to defend itself. Both of those centrally are democratic nations standing up to autocracy. And that is something that is central to the
Biden political ethos.
ANDERSON: It's fascinating. It's always good to have you on sir. Thanks for making yourself available to us. You are, as you know, welcome anytime.
Thank you. Steven Collinson in the house! Coming up, ocean conservation stories with our "Call to Earth" Guest Editors Photographers Paul Nicklen
and Cristina Mittermeier up next!
ANDERSON: Throughout this week cross CNN programming "Call to Earth" our series is looking at the conservationists who work to protect Mexico's rich
marine ecosystems. First up, let me introduce you to our guest editors, award winning conservation photographers, Paul Nicklen and Cristina
Now as part of the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative, they've captured some of this generation's most important images. And they are stunning as you
are about to see these photographers on a mission to bring hope to our ocean, having a look at this.
PAUL NICKLEN, CONSERVATION PHOTOGRAPHER: I would say right now it is my favorite photograph just because it's my most popular photograph. When you
take a photograph that's sharp and in focus, you know, for many people, their job is done for me. It's, it's when that image now goes to work. Now
it takes on a life of its own. Now it communicates with the world.
The work I do is at that intersection of art, science and conservation. It has to be beautiful and engaging. It has to invite you in. It has to be
based on fact and science, and it has to have a conservation message.
It was the opening spread and National Geographic climate change issue. It's used by Al Gore; it's used in other talks. And then it was put on the
album cover of Pearl Jam called Gigaton, which is the measurement of ice disappearing from the ice caps in both the Arctic and Antarctica.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Paul Nicklen grew up on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut where he says the lack of a
television, computer or phone led to spending all of his time outside in the snow and ice.
NICKLEN: I was learning to be tough. I was learning survival skills, but I was also learning about storytelling. The Inuit are beautiful storytellers.
CRISTINA MITTERMEIER, CONSERVATION PHOTOGRAPHER: There they come the mother lode.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Cristina Mittermeier, on the other hand was raised in the mountains south of Mexico City, where she says adventure
books and television shows introduced her young mind to the wonders of the sea.
MITTERMEIER: I was as far away from the ocean as you can get, but I became a marine biologist because I thought that that was my passport to get close
to nature and close to wildlife.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Paul too started off as a biologist.
NICKLEN: I was working on polar bears, caribou, moose, lynx, and wolves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Both quickly discovered they were more motivated by the impact of capturing scientific moments in picture rather
than on paper.
MITTERMEIER: I realized that when people are shown photographs, they feel so much more comfortable asking questions about what they're looking at.
Simple questions, human question where was this? Were you afraid? Was it cold? Were you hungry? Where did you sleep? Those kinds of questions and
that's the first step in enabling a dialogue.
NICKLEN: The role that I have to play is that the science is important. But I need to bridge the gap between the scientists and the rest of the world
by using the power of visual storytelling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we're 15 degrees off the web.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): They are also cofounders of SeaLegacy, an organization working to bring larger audiences into the conversation on the
importance of protecting our oceans. And they've recently added an impressive resource to their creative storytelling toolkit.
NICKLEN: SeaLegacy 1 is an autonomous hub of content creation that's out there on the frontlines of the biggest issues facing our oceans, where we
have the latest technology and equipment to capture those stories and share those stories with the rest of the world.
MITTERMEIER: SeaLegacy 1 for me is a beacon of hope. You know, we want a lot of people to come and be entertained by our videos by the adventurer,
but also to start understanding why they need to care.
ANDERSON: And do watch the special half hour program "Call to Earth" protectors of the sea, which airs this Saturday and Sunday on CNN. I'll be
right back after.
ANDERSON: We have a small window of opportunity to make a massive course correction. That's an urgent message on climate change from the president
designate of COP 28 to be held here in the UAE later this year.
Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, speaking a short time ago to energy policymakers in Berlin announcing his mission, saying "We must act now, we must act
together and we must act to anchor our response with a rapid well managed and just energy transition. We must reduce emissions 43 percent by 2030".
And he goes on to say, "We need to ensure that no one is left behind". Last year developing economies received only 20 percent of clean tech
investment. These are economies that represent 70 percent of the world's population. Well, the South Pacific island of Vanuatu has no intention of
being left behind. It just got a big win at the U.N. where the General Assembly voted to adopt, a resolution led by the cyclone plagued Ireland.
It asks the International Court of Justice to play a role in climate justice and clarify exactly what big polluters are responsible for. CNN's
Anna Coren shows us why the stakes are so high for Vanuatu.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): High above the vast Pacific Ocean, Vanuatu's leader looks down on his fragile paradise. The nation is
one of the most vulnerable on Earth its people at constant risk from cyclones, earthquakes and live volcanoes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe it's all because of climate change.
COREN (voice over): A village chief surveys the damage caused this month by two categories for cyclones that slammed his community in the same week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laws are getting stronger and stronger every year.
COREN (voice over): The fight against global warming is Vanuatu's existential crisis. But it's not the only global issue that clutches at
this tiny nation. The people of these islands are getting wrapped up in the great power tussle between the U.S. and China.
Both want greater influence across the blue Pacific continent. U.S. allies Australia and New Zealand have always viewed the Pacific as their
neighborhood. So, when the Cyclones hit Vanuatu, they were first in to help.
CAPT. JACE HUTCHISON, HMAS CANBERRA: Australia is a direct neighbor of Vanuatu in our region. And just like all the other neighboring Pacific
family countries, we respond to natural disasters when our neighbors are in need.
COREN (voice over): All know the value of winning hearts and minds in the Pacific. Beijing sent in cyclone aid too, but as China and the U.S. talk
about new embassies, new military bases and new economic deals in the region. Vanuatu's Climate Change Adaptation Minister says, to keep old
friends are we new ones, you have to listen to what they need.
RALPH REGENVANU, VANUATU MINISTER OF CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION: The U.S. and China got absolutely game, ready --in Pacific by taking real action on
climate change. If China and the U.S. profess to be our friends and want to support us, they need to deal with climate change which is the greatest
threat to our existence.
COREN (voice over): That path to climate justice could also lead great powers toward geopolitical influence in the Pacific. Anna Coren, CNN.
ANDERSON: Well, Sandra Nichols Thiam is a climate lawyer with the Environmental Law Institute. And she joins us now live from Washington,
D.C.; it's good to have you. If this resolution, if passed would be non- binding, of course, but you argue that it is still significant. What happened at the UN then today is significant to your mind how?
SANDRA NICHOLS THIAM, CLIMATE LAWYER, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW INSTITUTE: So, as you stated, the resolution passed the UN General Assembly this morning with
a broad support from 120 countries around the world started from a movement of students in the small island nation of Vanuatu, with no opposition.
So, this is a consensus resolution of the UN General Assembly that it's critical to have a legal opinion from the world's authoritative body about
what states obligations are with regard to our climate system and their accountability to others for harm, due to affecting the climate system.
ANDERSON: Yep. And that's, that's the word I want to just interrogate here, accountability. After 30 years of deadlock, the result of last year's cop
was finally getting rich nations to agree in principle to consider paying developing countries for loss and damage caused by global warming. This is
only about infrastructure at this point.
Already, we've got some big carbon emitters who are just not prepared to pony up or even really engage in the conversations about loss and damage.
Do you believe there will ever be any accountability?
THIAM: This step today at the UN General Assembly could lead to a framework that would enable that accountability depending on how the court takes up
this this draft opinion or takes where they take this case. They could lay out a framework that would enable states to pass stronger laws, have
greater ambitions. And be put in a position where it would be very hard not to acknowledge their accountability as members of the global community.
ANDERSON: And acknowledging accountability, the line between that and actually, you know, paying up so that, you know, island nation like Vanuatu
actually gets its cash for loss and damage to quite different things, aren't they? I mean, I this is your business. And you're at the heart of
this, you know, between now and when do you expect that we might at least get some climate justice?
THIAM: That's a real difficult question. And we folks who focus on climate all the time really talk about that the fact that it's a marathon and not a
sprint. We've set in motion changes that will continue regardless of if we stopped emitting right this minute, there will continue to be impacts
around felt around the world for decades, at least to come.
So, this is a long-term process. And it's been plagued by mistrust. And it's been plagued by parties not being on the same page in terms of even
the basic facts of what's happening. And so I think a key part of what may come out of an ICJ opinion is a strong validation of the science and
bringing countries together to have a framework and a common language from which to start moving towards climate justice.
ANDERSON: We'll have to wait and see what that ICJ judgment looks like. It's good to have you, thank you very much indeed for joining us. It's a
big year, of course, loss and damage. Climate justice will be front and center as we work through this year towards COP 28, which of course is here
in the UAE, beginning November the 30th. Thank you.
Well, our parting shots tonight, we take you to a heartfelt reunion in Qatar. During the fall of Afghanistan in August of 2021, an Afghan toddler
lost her parents, they were killed in a blast at Kabul airport and she was separated from her three siblings.
Well, amidst the chaos she was taken on a U.S. flight to Qatar carry Afghans fleeing the Taliban. Nameless and only a few weeks old, she stayed
in an orphanage in Doha, where she was given the name Maryam. While UN investigators and category officials' work to identify Maryam and track
down her family in Afghanistan. And 18 months later two year old Maryam begins a new chapter as she reunited with her uncle and three siblings last
Thanks for joining us. CNN continues after this short break.