Return to Transcripts main page
Connect the World
Only One Working Hospital Left in Gaza; Inside Gaza Combat Zone with Israeli Forces; Father of Wounded American in Gaza Pleads for Help; Blinken Addresses Divisions over War; U.S. and Chinese Presidents to Meet as U.S. Hopes to Improve Strained Ties; U.S. President Joe Biden Delivers Address on Climate Action; Conflict Threatens to Overshadow Climate Summit. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired November 14, 2023 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST (voice-over): Hello and welcome back to the second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. It is 7 pm in Abu
Dhabi. In Gaza, it is 5 pm.
The situation on the ground is being described as absolutely desperate. Israel walking a line that goes finer by the day, pushing on with its
offensive against Hamas, while pressure grows to protect civilians in Gaza.
The United Nations says there is only one functioning hospital left in northern Gaza, where the fighting is, of course, most intense.
Out of power and out of medical supplies, even food and water. The United Nations says the situation is being made even worse by Israeli bombardments
nearby. U.S. President Joe Biden says he wants to see fewer attacks around those areas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My hope and expectation that there will be less intrusive action at (INAUDIBLE) hospital. The
hospital must be protected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, Israel says Hamas is hiding command centers and armories under hospitals. The militant group, as well as doctors in Gaza have denied
that. I want to bring in Dr. Mads Gilbert of Norway. Now he specializes in emergency medicine and anesthesiology. He is now in Cairo, trying to get to
Gaza to help.
I have to say, Dr. Gilbert, you and I spoke I think, 4.5 weeks ago when you just arrived in Cairo at the time. You were hoping to get access into Gaza.
I can only imagine how frustrated you are at this point. Just describe that frustration for me, if you will.
DR. MADS GILBERT, PHYSICIAN AND FORMER VOLUNTEER, AL-SHIFA HOSPITAL: Yes, thank you, Becky.
I think I am not the only one with this immense frustration. I think the whole U.N. family and the whole global NGO family, we feel the same. We
feel this, as the hours pass by, we get more and more information about the number of people dying unnecessarily, because they can't be given proper
And of course, let alone the constant bombing from the air, sea and ground, which has caused massive losses. I calculated yesterday, I summed up the
U.N. numbers. For the first four weeks, there are 12,000 killed and 28,000 wounded. And of the 12,000 killed, it is 6,000 children killed or missing.
So this is a massive disaster. We see now that there are almost no functioning hospitals because of a lack of electricity and water, food
actually and, of course, the last 24 hours, oxygen, oxygen.
ANDERSON: Let's talk about what we know specifically. I know that you have spoken with the Palestinian deputy minister of health inside Al-Shifa
Hospital, the biggest hospital in Gaza.
What did he tell you about the situation there?
GILBERT: I have to tell you, I have known this man for the better part of 15 years. I never heard his voice crack. His voice cracked this morning.
And he described, we have 700 remaining patients, they have 250 staff and 2.5 thousand remaining refugees. Last 24 hours, 40 -- four-zero -- patients
died; inpatients, because they could not be given the proper treatments.
And these were 20 adult intensive care patients, who were denied oxygen because Israelis damaged the oxygen machine.
And three of the dying were these small, premature babies of which, you know, therapy aid had to been taken out of the incubators because they
could not keep them warm and keep them supplied with oxygen.
Altogether, 40 patients in Shifa, dying. And they told me that there are around 100 dead bodies starting to decompose. They can't go outside to bury
them because they are being shot at.
They have no food for the staff and the patients. And they were doing surgery this morning in the light from their mobile phones, because there
is absolutely no electricity.
GILBERT: So this is an ongoing, massive collapse in the support for the wounded and the needy (ph) patients.
ANDERSON: You have worked at the Al-Shifa Hospital in the past.
What do you make of Israeli and U.S. claims that there are Hamas command nodes underneath -- or very close to -- beside that hospital?
GILBERT: Well, we have heard these allegations for the last 16 years. I have been working in Shifa through the last bombardments and I have never
seen it. I have never seen any proof of it.
And I would never have worked in a hospital which was a military command center, because I follow the Geneva Convention.
But look, they don't that excuse. They have been building 10 hospitals in the north. They bombed a Turkish hospital, the adult cancer hospital; they
bombed (INAUDIBLE) the pediatric cancer hospital. They bombed the eye hospital, the psychiatric hospital and so on and so forth.
And they have been besieging the Jerusalem hospital, which is a Red Cross hospital, in the middle of Gaza City for a week and bombed it relentlessly.
So this excuse to claim that there is a command center -- well, show us the proof.
And number two, you are not allowed to attack a mixed civilian and military target. And hospitals are protected by international law. Even if you found
a soldier there, you could not bomb it.
I have never seen a soldier, I've never seen any of the rank and file in the hospital. I have seen the minister of health. He should be there.
Otherwise, I have seen absolutely no proof. And I think these are, you know, trying to hide.
Because the fact -- excuse me -- but the fact is that, as long as I have been working as a doctor, with Palestinian health care, every time there is
conflict or a bombing, the medical health care system is attacked by the Israeli army. There are tons of reports, the --
GILBERT: -- the U.N., other (INAUDIBLE) -- yes.
ANDERSON: -- today speaking of this. Just to remind ourselves -- yes. Let me just give our viewers a little bit more context to this.
The ICRC today saying, "Under international humanitarian law, the principle is clear: hospitals are protected because of their lifesaving function for
the wounded and the sick. Yes, they can lose their protection but this is not a free license to attack."
That was the ICRC today. That was their chief legal officer. And she went on to explain just why there is not this free license to attack under
international humanitarian law. Perhaps that is something we can discuss.
I also wanted to bring this up with you, Doctors without Borders tweeting the following.
"This morning, in Gaza, bullets were fired into one of three MSF premises located near Al-Shifa Hospital and sheltering MSF staff and their families,
over 100 people, including 65 kids who ran out of food yesterday night. We have been trying to evacuate them for the past three days.
"MSF is asking the Israeli army and Hamas for safe passage for them to leave the epicenter of intense fighting currently going on in Gaza City."
No food, bullets being fired, Mads, these are hospitals. And as you point out, they should be protected. The ICRC suggesting that the international
humanitarian law principles are clear.
At least the evacuation and safe passage out of these hospitals, if it is sought by doctors and civilians, should be granted, correct?
GILBERT: Yes, absolutely. And I heard yesterday from my colleagues in Shifa that the only ones were allowed to walk out of Shifa hospital were
people who were lifting their arms in the air and holding a white flag. Even they were shot at.
And we have seen how the Israeli army shot at the ambulance convoy a few days ago, that was going with wounded to Egypt, claiming it was Hamas -- no
proof. They were attacking a relief convoy from ICRC, outside Shifa.
And as I said, they have been constantly attacking of -- yesterday, they killed three of my colleagues, young medical doctors. And so far, 200-plus
medical staff have been killed by the Israeli army.
So this pattern of attacking health care, you see the same in the West Bank. They attacked ambulances; 50 ambulances in Gaza have been destroyed
and a number of hospitals, not only Shifa.
So this is a pattern. It's an operational pattern. I think the reason is that they want to discourage the people because, without health care, we
feel vulnerable, helpless and the will to resist an occupation is diminished.
So it is part of total, all-out war on the Palestinian society. And I would like to remind the viewers that we are supporting the brave battle of the
Ukrainian resistance --
GILBERT: -- against the Russian occupation, with arms and with money and political support.
Why doesn't the Palestinian people, who have been occupied for 70 years, have the same right to resist occupation?
Because that is anchored in international law. So I think the last week has been a complete disaster, not so much for the health care system but for
the morality and the respect for humanity in the Western world.
They -- the leaders are sitting idle, watching Israel killing children, killing civilians, attacking hospitals, without doing shit -- excuse my
ANDERSON: Mads Gilbert, thank you for your perspective. This is your inside analysis on a situation which is very familiar to you. You have
experience of working in Gaza, which is why it is important that we get your perspective.
I know, as you have pointed out, you were in constant touch with people who were in the process of what is going on. And it is important to get that
perspective. Mads, good to have you on.
CNN's Nic Robertson was able to get into Gaza recently. He was taken by the Israeli army to a hospital. He was escorted by the Israel Defense Forces,
the IDF, at all times. But CNN did not submit its script for footage to the IDF. And CNN has retained editorial control over Nic's final report. It is
important to point that out now.
Let me show you his report.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Driving into Gaza with the Israeli forces, it's a warzone. The conditions of our
access only show officers know faces of soldiers and don't show sensitive equipment.
We are passing mile after mile of destruction. Buildings blown, collapsed, nothing untouched by the fury of Israel's hunt for Hamas. Streets here
crushed back to sand.
ROBERTSON: Shops, everything that we see, no sign of any civilians here. And the soldiers have been telling us that even inside the stores, they've
been fighting things like rocket propelled grenades ready to use against them as they were advancing through this area.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): A few miles in, we pull up at a command on post. Soldiers living in blown apartment buildings.
ROBERTSON: Every building I'm looking at here, wherever you turn, is destroyed, it shot up. Hard to imagine how civilians endured the
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Our next journey much deeper into Gaza. We arrive 100 meters from a battle with Hamas. Tanks blasting targets in nearby
buildings, the IDF's top spokesperson waiting for us.
DANIEL HAGARI, IDF SPOKESPERSON: We are conducting an operation inside Gaza, next to Rantisi Hospital.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Israel is facing massive international pressure over the destruction of homes, the shockingly high civilian death toll and
in the last few days over it's apparently heavy-handed tactics at hospitals.
HAGARI: We have here the tunnel, the bulldozers reveal the tunnels that we suspect that underneath the hospital.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Hagari has brought us here to show the connection he says exists between Hamas and the Rantisi Children's Hospital.
HAGARI: We're now here in an area between a hospital, a school and a terrorist house.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): A Hamas commander he says live there. He points out the solar panels on the roof.
HAGARI: This is a tunnel that was sliding, like this is the floor. You can see here.
ROBERTSON: This is the ladder going down.
HAGARI: You see the ladder going down.
ROBERTSON: I see the ladder going down, yes.
HAGARI: OK. This is 20 meter tunnel. And look what's here -- look at the - - look at the -- look at the tunnel, (inaudible) there but look down here. The same cables are going down to the tunnel, OK --
ROBERTSON: So the hard wire into the tunnel --
HAGARI: So what I wanted to show you, the solar panels on the terrace house provide electricity directly to the tunnel. We've entered a robot
inside the tunnel and the robot saw a massive door, a door that is the direction of the hospital.
ROBERTSON: We're in what is an active fire zone here. You can hear the small arms fire. The IDF say that's still played in this area. We're
getting (inaudible) just taking a bit of cover because they said we're still taking fire.
ROBERTSON: But over here, we were able to smell what smelled like rotting flesh that is perhaps buried underneath the rubble.
No -- no, don't go up high and expose yourself.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): As we move off to the hospital 100 meters away, we're still taking fire.
HAGARI: We're still conducting an operation. Operation conducted by a Special Unit, the Israeli Navy SEALs are researching the hospitals.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Hagari later tells us he took a big risk bringing us into such a combat zone. It is clear he wants this story told.
HAGARI: We're searching here to see the connection of the tunnel to the hospital, OK?
Don't fall here.
ROBERTSON: So this is where the connection --
HAGARI: We are looking for the connection.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): As we finally reached the hospital, it is already getting dark. A huge hole has been blasted through the walls into the
ROBERTSON: Why is the hospital so damaged?
HAGARI: We'll talk -- why is the hospital so damaged?
ROBERTSON: Damage like this --
HAGARI: I'll explain it to you. It's an important question.
ROBERTSON: Yes. Yes, it is.
HAGARI: We came to this hospital five days ago. There were still patients inside the hospital, we did not enter into the hospital.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): He claimed since then all patients were evacuated by hospital staff.
HAGARI: We assist this evacuation, of course, to make it a safe pass for all the patients in the hospital. We do not know that the hospital is
entirely clear, we do not know. We only entered to this area which was suspected because we're being fired.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Hagari leads us through a warren of basement corridors to this room.
HAGARI: This was the armory, OK?
ROBERTSON: This was the Hamas armory.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): He shows us a few rusting guns and some explosives. These guns alone have potentially huge implications for Gaza's
hospitals and Israel's apparent push to take control of them.
ROBERTSON: The International Committee for the Red Cross say that hospitals are given special protection under international humanitarian law
in a time of war. But if militants stole weapons there or use them as a base of fire, then that protection falls away.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): In other rooms, he shows us a motorbike with a bullet hole in it that he suspects was used by Hamas attackers October 7th
and nearby possible evidence hostages could have been held here.
HAGARI: We are now in the basement in the same area yards from the motorcycle. We see a chair, we see a rope. We see here a woman's clothes or
woman's -- something covering woman.
ROBERTSON: She think a woman was tied up in this chair.
HAGARI: This is an assumption, going to be checked by DNA.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): For evidence, Hagari says, points toward Hamas and possible hostage presence below the hospital.
ROBERTSON: And by bringing us here to this hospital and showing us the connection that you believe exists between the terrorists and possibly
hostages, what does it say about the other hospitals here in Gaza?
HAGARI: Cynically, Shifa Hospital is known, by facts, by intelligence, to be a terrorist hub. And also it's suspicious also in holding hostages. This
is the best shelter for the terrible war machine of Hamas.
ROBERTSON: But the hospital authorities said they have no knowledge of Hamas or other groups inside the hospitals. Is that possible?
HAGARI: I think it's not possible for an hospital to have this kind of an infrastructure. We knew the terrorists were here. We knew, we knew by
intelligence is also we got some fire from this area.
ROBERTSON: From this area or this building?
HAGARI: From this area and we were right to fire because what we found in armory.
ROBERTSON: But so much damage all around here.
HAGARI: Yes, there is damage all around here because Hamas made it impossible for us to fight them. They built all this infrastructure in
tunnels and in hospital around areas populated.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): As we exit the hospital, it is already dark.
ROBERTSON: We're just getting ready to leave right now. The firefight still going on, still intense, bullets fired, explosions going on up the
ROBERTSON (voice-over): This war and the controversies surrounding it far from resolved.
ANDERSON: Nic joining us now live from just the other side of the border.
Nic, and as you've been, I know, waiting to speak to me, there has been some fire behind you, some missiles behind you.
Nic, what struck you most on that trip into Gaza?
ROBERTSON: A couple of things, Becky. Number one, the level of destruction. The scale and scope, I don't think I've witnessed before.
Number two, we have been looking to see evidence of tunnels and how they connect into what the IDF alleges them to connect into, to hospitals. And
we could see how they connected to solar panels on houses and how tunnels ran in that direction. But one of my takeaways was, clearly, the IDF saying
that they had not yet been able to prove --
ROBERTSON: -- that particular tunnel connected to that particular hospital, they are still investigating.
So from that perspective, it's a supposition. Inside the hospitals, again, the possibility -- possibility, not hard evidence but possibility and
suggestions that require further investigation that there may have been hostages there.
And the weapons, the IDF says they found in the hospital, this is the sort of information they believe that they already had intelligence on and had
reason to believe was there. When you stack that up with international humanitarian law, that allows the IDF leeway in dealing with hospitals.
And hospitals are so controversial in Gaza right now. The level of civilian death toll requires hospitals to treat people. And it seems clear now that
the IDF want to take control of hospitals that they believe Hamas may operate in or close to. And that obviously puts more people impossible
ANDERSON: Nic Robertson on the ground for you.
Thank you, Nic.
As the war closes in on northern Gaza and its almost paralyzed hospitals, thousands of terrified civilians are still seeking shelter inside. One
family, desperately trying to get the attention of the U.S. government.
Jomana Karadsheh tells us the story of a wounded American teenager, trapped in the war zone, and her father's vehement plea. Have a listen.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Darkness has descended on yet another Gaza medical facility, Al Quds Hospital where
they've been trying to save lives with the very little they had left but it's become nearly impossible.
This was just hours before Gaza's second largest hospital was declared out of service on Sunday.
Like other hospitals in the north, the fighting has been closing in on Al Quds, where thousands of displaced had been sheltering amongst like the
injured. Among them are at least two U.S. citizens Farah Abuolba and her mother, Noha (ph).
FARAH ABUOLBA, AMERICAN INJURED IN GAZA: I want to feel like, oh, I can move my fingers. My fingers are gone now.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Farah says she was injured in an attack on their bus on the road south as they tried to make their way for a third time to
the Rafah Crossing with Egypt. The family blames Israel whose military denied to CNN that they struck that street on that day.
ABUOLBA: I walked from the beach, like it was probably three miles from the beach to the hospital. I could have given up. I felt like all my blood
-- all my blood drips all over me. How I felt when I saw my hand falling or how I felt my skin just in my bones breaking and how I saw my wrist just
turn blue. I knew that my hand was gone.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): This interview with Farah was filmed a few days ago by a journalist working for CNN on the eve of her 17th birthday, before
the hospital was almost completely cut off from the outside world.
ABUOLBA: When I sleep, I dream of what happened to me. I can hear the rockets when they hit me and my sister and my mom just screaming when they
saw my hand fall.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): This is a scene just outside the hospital. This video released by the Israeli military captures a militant carrying a
rocket propelled grenade they say was part of a group that attacked their forces.
Palestinians deny anyone armed is inside and say the Israeli military is surrounding and targeting the hospital. Israel says it's targeting Hamas.
Farah was born in Gaza and left with her family when she was three. They were back to visit family when the war broke out. For her father, Karam
Abuolba in Pennsylvania, the past few weeks have been hell desperately trying to get his wife and daughters back home, exchanging almost daily
emails and calls with the State Department.
KARAM ABUOLBA, FATHER AND HUSBAND OF AMERICANS IN GAZA: I'm asking, is there a Class A, Class B from the U.S. citizen for all the U.S. citizen. I
pay tax for the United States of America to support Israel to shoot and to pump my daughter and my wife?
I need the president, I need Mr. Blinken to listen to this message.
We are a U.S. citizen. We are loyal to this country. Send the Red Cross, send them to support the U.S. citizen. They are outside. They are not
hostage with Hamas.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): A father's desperation to make his family suffering heard. Like so many thousands, he feels no one is hearing Gaza's
cries for help.
K. ABUOLBA: I feel everything hopeless. I feel like I'm dead.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson. You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD, live from Abu Dhabi in the UAE.
Still to come, we'll take you to this protest march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That is part of a growing effort to pressure the Israeli
government to do more to bring hostages held in Gaza back home.
ANDERSON: The families of hostages held by Hamas are marching from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem over the next several days, to shine a spotlight on their
loved ones' plight. Mow family members tell CNN they are growing frustrated and are demanding the Israeli government do more to negotiate a deal to
bring the hostages home.
It has been over five weeks since more than 200 people were taken into Gaza following Hamas' attack on October the 7th. CNN's Oren Liebermann has more
from Tel Aviv.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We are here at the head of the march of the families of the hostages, from where they were set up the
past two weeks or so in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Leading the march here, many have spoken about their frustration, the lack of answers they're receiving, the demand that the government do everything
it can to release the hostages.
Some 240 still held in Gaza, from the very young, their grandparents, grandmothers and grandfathers. The message that they are trying to send to
prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the war cabinet is do whatever it takes.
Make whatever deals necessary to bring them home as soon as possible, regardless of the deal. Their priority, not destroying Hamas, not
destroying the tunnels but bringing families home.
For the past two weeks or so, they've been outside the defense ministry when the (INAUDIBLE) met, trying to make sure that the government hears
them in that way. They feel that that hasn't been enough. So now they've taken to the streets of Tel Aviv, where they will march from here to
Jerusalem over the course of the next several days.
This march, very reminiscent of a march from more than a decade ago, when the family of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, who was held prisoner in
Gaza for give years, decided they, too, had had enough and marched from their home in northern Israel to Tel Aviv.
By the time they arrived in Jerusalem, they had thousands with them and put a tremendous amount of pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to
make a deal to free their son.
This the same idea but now the family of 239 or so hostages, trying to put that same sort of pressure to bring their family home, to try and demand
answers. And this is the way they are doing it now -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, on the streets of Tel Aviv.
ANDERSON: Still ahead, the U.S. secretary of state addressing divisions within his own staff over the administration's approach to the Israel-Hamas
ANDERSON: And my interview with former secretary of state turned climate envoy, John Kerry. He tells me how major conflicts around the world could
impact the COP28 climate summit just weeks from now.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. I am Becky Anderson. You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD from our programming hub here in Abu Dhabi.
There are fissures between or within the Biden administration on its approach to the Israel-Hamas war.
On Monday, secretary of state Antony Blinken emailed his staff, saying, quote, "I know that for many of you, the suffering caused by this crisis is
taking a profound personal toll. The anguish that comes with seeing the daily images of babies, children, elderly people, women and other civilians
suffering in this crisis is wrenching.
"I feel it myself. We're listening. What you share is informing our policy and our messages."
CNN's Jennifer Hansler joins us now from the State Department.
We have reported that there are fissures between departments. Speak to what we know about the narrative that is evolving at the State Department and
how that might be different from that at the White House at this point.
JENNIFER HANSLER, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT PRODUCER: Well, Becky, we have seen these same divisions playing out across the world and in the United States,
manifesting themselves here in the Biden administration.
There has been a lot of anger and dissent, particularly coming from the State Department, expressing concern, disapproval with the way that the war
in Israel is being handled by the administration.
There are reports of a number of dissent memos coming out of this building. We saw a State Department official publicly resign in protest. As you saw
in that note from Secretary Blinken to his staff yesterday, he acknowledged there are divisions, people within this building, who may not agree with
what is going on.
HANSLER: He says they are listening to those views. They are informing their messaging. Of course, a lot of what the disagreement comes from is
this idea of a cease-fire, which we have seen top levels of the State Department and the White House double down on their opposition to such a
They are saying that it is not the time. We have heard from officials here in the State Department and a lot of these listening sessions that Blinken
talked about have been rather contentious.
Of course, the White House is the one here who is ultimately shaping the policy. It is up to the President of the United States to shape that
policy. So as much as Blinken is saying they are listening to what the employees here have to say, at the end of the day, it is President Biden
who sets the policy here.
Now the State Department spokesperson Matt Miller was asked by the dissent memos yesterday at a briefing. He would not speak to the memos themselves.
Those are classified; that channel is private. However, this is what he had to say about divisions writ large. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT MILLER, SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: So I would say that the State Department -- like every organization, not just in government but
around the world -- contains people with a diversity of views.
And one of the things we think is one of our strengths -- you've heard me talk to this before. You've heard the don (ph) talk to this last week. I
think you've heard the secretary talk to this at times.
One of our strengths as an organization is that we have that diversity of views and that we welcome people to make those views known.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANSLER: So Becky, we will see if this dissent grows louder, if it gets even further within both this building and the administration writ large.
We have also seen officials of the U.S. Agency for International Development speak out, calling for a cease-fire here.
Whether that message is heard in the upper levels of power it remains to be seen.
ANDERSON: Jennifer, it has been a busy time. You have traveled extensively with the secretary of state. And your reporting is so important. Thank you
indeed very much for joining us.
Next hour, U.S. President Joe Biden heads to San Francisco for the APEC summit and a meeting with Chinese president, Xi Jinping. They will sit down
Wednesday, at an undisclosed site near the city. There has been a flurry of high-level diplomacy ahead of this meeting, aimed at mending strained ties.
We've just learned that the two countries are on the cusp of a deal to crack down on the export of chemicals used to make fentanyl. Marc Stewart
back with us this hour from Beijing.
What more do we know, Marc?
MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, this has been a longtime contentious issue between the United States and China, the
movement of different ingredients, different chemicals, used to make fentanyl, which has caused an epidemic in the United States as far as
Well, as Phil Mattingly first reported this morning, there has been some kind of agreement in principle -- we will not know until it is officially
signed -- to limit the movement of these chemicals from China to Mexico that eventually have made their way into the United States.
It has been a top priority, actually very much a bipartisan priority. We saw a delegation from the United States come here to Beijing just about
almost eight weeks ago, Becky. Chuck Schumer was there, as well as leading Republicans.
And they actually met with Xi Jinping himself. And they expressed to them, some of the stories of heartache that they have reported in their own
individual districts. And that is actually very interesting.
It was interesting for Xi Jinping, I am told because that is not something he necessarily hears from. He hears from lawmakers on a much more national
scope, not so much on the local level. And that he spent more time with them than they anticipated.
So it led to this. This is something that was not necessarily off the conversation list. So I think that if this does happen, indeed, Becky,
there certainly will be agreement on both sides of the Pacific that this was an effort in goodwill to get done.
ANDERSON: Can I just ask you very briefly, what is the atmosphere, as far as you can tell, from Beijing, going into this meeting?
STEWART: I think there is a sense of optimism. I have been looking at state media, which is a pretty good barometer of how the public is feeling.
And it is the national dialogue, if you will. It sets the national discourse.
Yet there is also a heavy burden that these different publications are putting on China -- or rather on the U.S. -- to be understanding and to try
to understand the Chinese perspective.
I mean, early on, we even heard from Chinese officials speaking on the record that this is not necessarily going to be an easy process. There
could be barriers, there might be hurdles along the way. But it is important for China to have success here, for two reasons, Becky.
Really briefly, as you know, one is economic. The economy here is slow going.
STEWART: And two, Xi Jinping is trying to establish himself as this global leader, as an alternative to the West, to the United States, part of this
new world order.
So it is important that he finds some credibility in these talks because it is not just the Chinese people who are watching but it's other nations. As
you know, he recently had meetings with Vladimir Putin and Syria's Bashar al-Assad. So there are several burdens here.
ANDERSON: Yes. And we are just waiting for President Biden to speak, it feels, may be in 45 seconds, maybe -- on the issue of climate, where do we
stand with regard to the U.S. and China, sort of the narrative here?
Because it's been another bone of contention but it's one that the U.S. has felt could actually be -- there may be a bridge here for relations.
Hold that thought -- hold that thought. President Biden is about to speak in Washington ahead of his trip to the APEC summit in San Francisco,
touting his administration's initiatives in fighting climate change, let's listen in.
BIDEN: Did y'all see the artwork?
You see it up here?
It's on the right side; nobody can see it.
And thank you, all of you, for the climate scientists and experts who are here today and all across the country who have contributed to this critical
I particularly want to thank Allison Crimmins, who put together the team to write this report that we are releasing today. It was an easy thing to do
and not much to it.
BIDEN: Only about 700 people who had to get in line.
Well, more than 30 years ago, Congress passed a law, which called for a detailed, scientific report on the impacts of global changes in the
environment. Since then, these assessments delivered to the Congress and the president have been the go-to resource in America for information on
climate change and for developing climate solutions.
ANDERSON: And that is President Biden, unveiling a $6 billion worth of new climate funding. Well, that is time, I believe we are just some two weeks
away from COP28, where leaders are working toward agreements on climate science.
The loss and damage fund and further commitment to reduce emissions. It is an important summit with massive potential.
The publication, "Foreign Policy," writes, "The controversial decision to hold this critical round of climate talks in the Gulf, which has built its
wealth on its fossil fuel endowment, provides the UAE with an opportunity to meet the political moment."
We will know what is more aware of the competing crisis than the former U.S. secretary of state and current special presidential envoy for climate,
John Kerry. I sat down with him in the end of October to discuss what he hopes to see happen at COP28 when it opens later in November here in Dubai.
But I asked him first for his reaction to what he has been seeing in the Middle East, in the first few weeks after that Hamas attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: It's tragic that Israel had to suffer such an extraordinary, horrible, grotesque terrorist
attack, inhuman acts against folks that just leave people stunned and shocked around the world.
I also think that it is very important, even as Israel has the right and the clear need to respond to that, that as much as can be done to protect
civilians is done and, also, that people do everything possible to prevent this from spreading.
And I know -- and I think Biden and Secretary Blinken have, frankly, been terrific in their awareness --
KERRY: -- of the need to try to balance these things.
ANDERSON: The world is facing two wars, Ukraine and Israel.
How is this conflict affecting the COP28 negotiations?
KERRY: We need to prove that governance can work. People can come together and find common ground and make important things happen. And that's what
we're going to try to do at this COP.
ANDERSON: Dr. Sultan (ph) acknowledged that there remained significant debates about phasing down or phasing out fossil fuels.
Which should it be, to your mind?
KERRY: Well, I don't think it is possible just to say we're going to phase it out, when you look at all of the demand there is for it now and in years
ahead. It takes time to transition.
As electric cars keep coming online, guess what?
Gasoline demand is going to go down. That is absolutely certain to happen. The IEA, the International Energy Agency, has said, based on the current
figures of electric car deployment and renewable energy deployment, they are predicting a terminal decline in demand for fossil fuel energy.
ANDERSON: You're right. The IEA has said that. So it becomes very confusing when the OPEC secretary general told me that the fossil fuel
industry needs $600 billion a year annually of new investment to meet global demand by 2045. He calls net zero deadlines overzealous.
Does he have a point?
KERRY: But you do not need new projects. So I don't agree.
Does he have a point?
Yes, he has his point. He has the industry point. But I don't agree that that is the way we have to proceed.
ANDERSON: I think it was "Foreign Policy" in an (INAUDIBLE) recently that suggested that the UAE could have a China-Nixon moment at COP28.
What would that look like?
KERRY: Perhaps one of the real Nixon to China moments would be the oil and gas industry coming to the table sufficiently committed in a significant
and real way to not only reducing their own emissions but to helping others to be able to do so.
To address methane and to begin to get on a serious pathway to net zero by 2050. With respect to China, we hope that we can find cooperation.
President Biden hopes, at some point, to be able to talk to President Xi in a constructive way, that gets us moving in the same direction.
Foreign minister Wang Yi was just in Washington and met with Secretary Blinken. I know they had a good conversation about climate issues. The
foreign minister Wang Yi indicated that he hopes that there can be a meeting of the minds moving forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: John Kerry, speaking to me before we knew that, at APEC on the west coast, we now will see President Biden sit down with Xi Jinping. And
climate and what happens next ahead of this COP28 meeting will be a priority, likely on that agenda.
You can see more from my interview with John Kerry online, at cnn.com.
That is it for me. CONNECT THE WORLD over. Stay with CNN though, because "STATE OF THE RACE WITH KASIE HUNT" is up next.