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Qatar Slams Alleged Leaked Remarks By PM Netanyahu; Russia Media: Black Boxes Recovered From Military Plane Crash; Soon: Trump Back In New York Court; Sabalenka Beats Gauff To Reach Australian Open Final. Aired 9- 10a ET

Aired January 25, 2024 - 09:00   ET



ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR: It is 6:00 p.m. here in Abu Dhabi. I'm Eleni Giokos and this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Happening this hour:

Outrage over a leaked audio recording allegedly capturing the Israeli prime minister criticizing Qatar. This as intense fighting in southern Gaza

continues, and the civilian death toll rises by the hour.

New details in the crash of a Russian military transport plane. Ukraine's president calling for an international investigation.

And from the campaign trail to the courtroom, Donald Trump could soon be back on the witness stand this time for his defamation trial.

And the women's final is set at the Australian Open.


GIOKOS: Welcome to the show.

And we start with a diplomatic fallout between Israel and Qatar. Leaked recording airing on Israeli television allegedly captured Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu criticizing the Gulf nation, describing it as, quote, problematic, CNN cannot verify the voice in the recording is indeed Mr.

Netanyahu. But I wanted to take a listen to what was leaked.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): For me, Qatar is no different in essence from the U.N., but is no different in

essence from the Red Cross. And in a certain sense, it is even --


NETANYAHU: -- more problematic.

I was very angry recently and I didn't hide it from the Americans, that they renewed the contract on the military base they have with Qatar.


GIOKOS: Now I want to remind you, Qatar has brokered the major deal to release Israeli hostages and enforce a temporary ceasefire in Gaza. So it's

no surprise that Doha is evidently annoyed. In response to the leaked, Qatar's foreign ministry spokesperson said on X, quote: We are appalled by

the alleged remarks attributed to the Israeli prime minister in various media reports about Qatar's mediation role. These remarks, if validated,

are irresponsible and destructive to the efforts to save innocent lives, but are not surprising.

Now this comes as the number of people killed after a U.N. facility was shelled in the city of Khan Younis has gone up to 12 according to UNRWA.

Israel saying a, quote, thorough review is underway.

The White House says it is, quote, gravely concerned by the strikes. Similar sentiment coming from the State Department. The deputy spokesperson

saying, quote, we deplore today's attack on the U.N.'s Khan Younis training centers. Civilians must be protected and the protected nature of U.N.

facilities must be respected.

And humanitarian workers must be protected so they can continue providing civilians with lifesaving humanitarian assistance that they need.

Now, despite all of those appeals and concerns voiced by the U.S., about protecting civilians in general, is Israel really listening? Well, I'm

pleased to say that I can put that question straight to the State Department principal deputy spokesperson, Vedant Patel himself, who joins

me now, live from Washington.

Vedant, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

So, here's the question, you know, is Israel listening to concerns and calls made by the United States to do what it can to minimize civilian


VEDANT PATEL, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: First, thanks so much for having me. This is something that we have and will

continue to raise with our Israeli partners that every possible step needs to be taken to minimize the impact on civilians. It is a moral and

strategic imperative, not all of these conversations are easy. Some of them are tough conversations, but we'll continue to have them.

GIOKOS: You know, just today, because we just spoke about UNRWA and the head on the training facility, but just today, reports of 20 people dead

and dozens more injured in Gaza City, as they were waiting for aid. You know, we've seen videos, we've got video to show you of sheer panic. And

here's the reality, the Biden administration has bypassed Congress for emergency weapons authorization. Is the U.S. rethinking its military

support for Israel? Because we know some Democratic lawmakers have said that aid is contingent on concrete steps by Netanyahu's government to

reduce the civilian death toll.


PATEL: Look, we have no change in policy to announce our share today. The important thing to remember here also is that Israel is continuing to

undertake important work to degrade Hamas so that the horrific events of October 7th cannot be repeated and we believe that that is that is a goal

that we share when it comes to the degradation of Hamas.

Simultaneously though, every possible step needs to be taken to minimize impact on civilians. But let me also add that Hamas continues to conduct

this war in a way in which they continue to co-locate themselves with civilian infrastructure. They continue to embed themselves within civilian

infrastructure, using civilians as human shields. There's a clear track record of this.

And so, it's critically important that our Israeli partners continue to stake -- take steps to hold them accountable while simultaneously doing

everything possible to minimize the impact on civilians.

GIOKOS: Vedant, I want to talk about this leaked recording of Benjamin Netanyahu describing Qatar as problematic and he also said that is mad at

the Americans. What is the U.S. response to this recording?

PATEL: I don't have anything to offer on this purported recording. Don't have any assessment to offer on that.

What I can just say broadly is that Qatar is an immense and integral partner as it relates to our work. That is ongoing in the region. They have

played a irreplaceable role in the ongoing efforts to release hostages, as well as they continue to play a critical role in work that's ongoing to

ensure that humanitarian aid flows into Gaza. And they're a key partner when it comes to a number of our key regional priorities. And we look

forward to continuing to work with them.

GIOKOS: Okay. But I mean, the big question is, is this is going to derail the very important talks that are currently being held right now. There's a

very big concern, just like the rhetoric we've been hearing out of the Netanyahu government right now, while these negotiations are going on and

whether we are, you know, headed towards a break through or the continued public issues that are coming to the fall are going to be problematic and

coming to some form of agreement as you say, getting hostages out important, and, of course, well the other issues playing out in Gaza right


VEDANT: A hundred percent, our hope is that this important work continues. Again, I don't have any assessment to offer on this recording, but there is

important work ahead. Both when it comes to the continued degradation of Hamas and its ability to conduct these October 7th type terrorist attacks

on Israel. But also, we have not parsed our words on how critical it is that every hostage, every unaccounted American that is being detained or

held hostage by Hamas needs to be released.

And that's something that will continue to work in close coordination with, with, of course, our partners in Qatar, but also our partners in the

Israeli government as well.

GIOKOS: Look, I want to talk about what we've been seeing in the Red Sea and the attacks on Houthi assets. The strikes are not working to stop the

Houthis but we know the Biden administration said they will continue to do so. At what point do you stop saying that this is self-defense and a full-

on confrontation because we're seeing things escalate. That is the reality even though initially we're talking about degrading assets and, you know,

trying to deter the Houthis

PATEL: You know, first to take a step back, take a little bit of an issue with the premise of your question. The steps that the United States has

taken and will continue to take are having tangible impact. These are strikes that are not going into the abyss. They are hitting legitimate

targets that are -- we believe -- are key to degrading Houthi's abilities to conduct these kinds of provocative and unsafe attacks on international

vessels doing legitimate commerce.

And that's what this is about, legitimate commerce --


GIOKOS: But that's -- President Biden has said, but President Biden himself has said that -- Biden has been clear that the U.S. airstrikes are

not working. And, you now, this is a thing and we know that the premise is to degrade the assets.

PATEL: We'll continue to take steps to take that we believe will allow us to continue to degrade Houthi's abilities to conduct these kinds of unsafe

attacks. What this is about is legitimate commerce have been flowing through vital waterways, and it would be in the interest of any entity, any

country to -- for this waterway to be safe, where legitimate commerce can take place


GIOKOS: Vedant, you know, the death toll in Gaza is over 25,000. People are watching this very closely. At the same time, we know tomorrow is going

to be important. The International Court of Justice will deliver this interim ruling on South Africa's genocide case against Israel. What will

the U.S. position be towards Israel should the ICJ will in favor South Africa's case to call in the interim for some kind of ceasefire and more

aid going into Gaza?

PATEL: I'm going to speculate -- I'm not going to speculate or hypothesize on a potential court ruling. What I can say is what we have said clearly

about this before is that these accusations that Israel is committing genocide, we believe to be unfounded. Now, that being said, we continue to

believe that steps can and should be taken to minimize the impacts on civilians and to take every possible step so that civilians lives are not


As it relates to a ceasefire, that is not a policy were pursuing right now. We believe that there is a responsibility here to hold the Hamas terrorists

to account for the horrific October 7 attacks because of Hamas's stated intent to conduct these kinds of terrorist attacks over and over and over


And so, we believe that there are steps that need to be taken to degrade their abilities and Israel is undertaking that operation right now.

GIOKOS: Vedant, thank you very much for your time. We appreciate your insights. This comes at a critical time. Of course, these conversations

continue mediation efforts on the go right now as we speak.

Vedant Patel, have a fantastic day. Thank you.

All right. I want to stay on this because Qatar's mediation role thus far has been key amid increasing turbulence in the region. Nic Robertson can

put this into wider perspective for us and he's live in Tel Aviv.

Nic, great to see you. Look, Israel's far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, claiming that Qatar is largely responsible for the October 7th

Hamas attack. He also said, quote, one thing is clear cattle will not be involved in what happened in Gaza the day after the war, Smotrich wrote.

So, how serious are his comments? We've been hearing a lot from the Netanyahu government, frankly, lately. Give me a sense of what you're

reading into this.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. I think if you take what was purported to be Prime Minister Netanyahu's comments that were

leaked from that meeting with hostage families, just a couple of days ago, part of the recording that also was leaked also said that the prime

minister blamed Qatar for not putting enough pressure on Hamas. He said, because they finance them.

And that was really something that Smotrich was following up on, but I think what will sting most or along with everything else in that rebuke by

a prime -- apparently by Prime Minister Netanyahu, is this allegation that it is Qatar financing Hamas because Qatar helps get the funds to Hamas,

that it is explicitly with Israel, say-so, political, say so, as well as the United States.

And I think you get a sense of how bitter that is felt in Qatar by their response, which another part of the tweet that came from the foreign

ministry spokesman -- spokesperson there went on to say that they feel that perhaps if that is proven to be Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking here,

that he is really putting his own career above the safety of the hostages and others in Gaza. The implication being that he doesn't want to see a

deal right now and I think if you listen to what the hostage families who met with the prime minister of had to say. They have said this in a

statement in the last hour or so that, you know, when they go into these meetings with the prime minister, they their phones or handed over at the

door so they can't record the conversations.

But the prime minister's office does make a recording of the conference the session, and they are questioning why the prime minister's office, they are

saying would seek to and have leaked this audio. They are also in playing here that the prime minister may not be acting in the best interests of the

families and the implicit understanding for many people in Israel is that the hostages are handed over as part of a -- part of a truce type deal,

that would be the end of the war on that would be potentially the end of Prime Minister Netanyahu's political career. It would certainly likely and

his government at the moment.



ROBERTSON: So this is what underlines this. So this is touched on some very deep and bitter issues here.

GIOKOS: Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

Well, still to come, reports from Russia says the military has now found the black boxes from a transport plane that crashed on Wednesday. Plus,

meet the Russian anti-war candidate working to the harness a protest votes against the Kremlin. That's all coming up right after this.



GIOKOS: Ukraine says it has intelligence suggesting only five bodies were recovered from the crash site of a Russian military transport plane and

delivered to the morgue in the nearby city of Belgorod. The comments are an indication of Kyiv's growing confidence that the plane which came down

Wednesday in Russia's Belgorod region may not have been carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war ahead of an exchange, as Moscow has claimed. Critical

flight recorders from a Russian military plane that crashed on Wednesday may have been recovered and well be analyzed according to Russian media.

Moscow accuses Kyiv of shooting down the plane in Russia's Belgorod region and says, all 74 people onboard were killed, including 65 Ukrainian

prisoners of war. Now, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been commenting on this as well. We've got Matthew Chance with more on this.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the moment, the Russian military transporter plunged from the skies. And

eye-witness gasps, as a huge orange fireball billows from the ground. Russia says the aircraft was shot down. And while Ukraine hasn't confirmed

it, this Russian border region is an active war zone.

I was clearing the snow when suddenly there was a loud bang since this Russian eye-witness on local TV, there was an explosion in the sky, he

says, and I got scared.

Across the frozen crash site near the Russian city of Belgorod, twisted metal debris his strewn across a wide area, with human remains.

Ukraine says the plane had a cargo of missiles heading to the front lines but Russia insists the aircraft was carrying 65 captive Ukrainian soldiers

on route to a prisoner exchange.

CNN can't independently verify either claim.

I feel pity for every one that, says this Russian woman who saw the plane go down. My own grandson is fighting in our special military operation, she

says, and all of those onboard probably had people waiting for them, too.


In recent weeks, Ukraine has been stepping up attacks across the Russian frontier, hitting an oil terminal near some Petersburg with a drone strike

last week nearly taking out a strategic Russian long range radar detection aircraft flying near the border.

In a Russian controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, local officials say at least 25 people were killed last weekend in a Ukrainian bombardment.

Meanwhile, on Russian state television, commentators have condemned the latest shoot down, saying it was Ukrainians killing their own. This was yet

another premeditated criminal act, which does not surprise us, says this former Russian general. It's now routine behavior, he says, by the Kyiv


But Kyiv says if Ukrainian prisoners of war were on board ahead of an exchange, as Moscow claims, they were not informed that Russia may have

deliberately put their lives in danger.

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


GIOKOS: A former opposition lawmaker in Russia believes he struck a nerve among the Russian electorate in call to end the Kremlin's war against

Ukraine. It is the driving force behind Boris Nadezhdin's long shot challenge of Vladimir Putin for the presidency. Now, a legion of voters has

braved the Russian winter to queue up to make sure he has the required signatures to get on the ballot for the March election.

To London now and we've got CNN's Clare Sebastian with more on how his call to end the war has led to a groundswell of support.

Clare, great to see you.

Look, here's the thing. People have run against Vladimir Putin before. And, of course, portraying themselves as genuine opponents, only to find out

later that the candidacy was just a sham. Is he a Putin plant or the real deal?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, I think that's the key question and I mean, the bottom line is we're less than two months now from

the Russian elections. And I think very few people, even with what we're seeing here, doubt that President Putin will be elected for a fifth term.

But we have been watching closely for the past week as we've seen these queues forming outside Boris Nadezhdin's headquarters. And I did put to him

the question on whether he is a Kremlin plant, and you'll see him answer it in a minute, but it does seem like the reaction to his campaign is real and

that in itself is potentially dangerous for Putin.

Take a look.


SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Under heavy snowfall and amid the chill of ever tighter limit on freedom of speech, this is a respite of Russian public

opposition to Vladimir Putin. Patient in the lining up to try to get an anti-war candidate on the ballot in the upcoming presidential election.

This is the only candidate that wants to stop the military action on someone else's territory says Anatoly.

For some, it goes even deeper than my war.

I feel that my rights may be infringed, says Masha, I don't feel safe sometimes

The candidate is Boris Nadezhdin, a 60-year-old physicist, former MP, and adviser to the late opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. His manifesto

describes the so-called special military operation in Ukraine as a fatal mistake, pledging to immediately start peace talks if elected.

People have been arrested and sent to prison in Russia for a lot less than that. Why are you getting away with this?

BORIS NADEZHDIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know. I don't know exactly why I am not arrested. I know Putin very well from `90s, even

when he was not a president. He was a normal Russian bureaucrat. And I was normal Russian bureaucrat.

SEBASTIAN: Supporters have been lining up not just in Moscow, but outside Nadezhdin's campaign headquarters in dozens of cities across Russia, and

even abroad. He has united the old guard of the Russian opposition, including key allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, his wife,

Yulia, adding her signature on Wednesday, and exiled oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

He's now racing to collect the required hundred thousand signatures, with strict regional quotas, by the end of January.

People are saying that there is either there's a deal, perhaps, with the Kremlin to allow your campaign to go ahead to create the illusion of a real

democracy, or that they are using this as a way to distract the anti-Putin electorate. What do you say to those theories?

NADEZHDIN: I am absolutely sure situation will change because a lot of people know in Russia which started to see me in YouTube, in TV, in

Telegram, they begin, believe me.


SEBASTIAN: In the Moscow queue, Evan tells us he doesn't care if Nadezhdin is a Kremlin plant or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am prepared even for the candidates to be, as we say here, be representative of one of the Kremlin

towers. For me, the most important thing is that military action should stop.

SEBASTIAN: If President Putin is reelected for a fifth term, what will you do?

NADEZHDIN: I am absolutely sure that even if Putin will win in this election, the next presidential election will be much closer than six

years. Absolutely sure. And I will proceed with my job.

SEBASTIAN: He believes he is already succeeding at one job exposing the fragility of public support for Putin's war.


SEBASTIAN (on camera): There are still many hurdles ahead. The deadline to submit those 100,000 signatures under strict rules is January 31st. Even if

he does get on the ballot and manage to convince more and more Russians to vote for him, this is obviously a country where previous elections have

sparked widespread allegations of voter fraud. He has a plan, he says, using his own observers, to deal with that.

Now, the Kremlin has told us they do not see him as a real hurdle, whether or not he is allowed on the ballot or perhaps denied on a technicality will

be a critical test of how President Putin views these elections, what he wants to get out of them. So this is something that will be very closely

watched -- Eleni.

GIOKOS: Great reporting. Thank you, Clare Sebastian, there for us.

A Moscow court has sentenced a pro-war Russian military blogger to four years in prison after finding him guilty of extremism. Igor Girkin has

denied the charge. He had criticized President Vladimir Putin's handling of the war on Ukraine in his popular blog, which had more than a half million

followers on Telegram. Girkin is an ex-military commander who played a pivotal role in the annexation of Crimea, and the early stages of the

Donbas invasion. He was also linked to the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17. Girkin was convicted in absentia of mass murder for

his role.

EU leaders are condemning what's being described as a KGB crackdown in Belarus. The Viasna Human Rights Center says there have been mass

interrogations and detentions of friends and relatives of political prisoners. The group says around 100 people have been interrogated and at

least 26 taken into custody.

And just ahead on connect the world, the U.S. offers a big surprise. What will the Federal Reserve make of it?

President Joe Biden is getting support from a very important union, but will it be enough to help him fight against Donald Trump? That is all

coming up.



GIOKOS: Welcome back. I'm Eleni Giokos. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. And as you can see we're very focused on the New York Stock Exchange. We

are waiting for the markets to start trading at -- and everything is in the positive right now.

It is all about those fourth-quarter GDP numbers that came through a 3.3 percent, far better than the 2 percent that was expected. Markets are

officially opened, up two tenths of a percent on the Dow Jones. As you can see, we're green all around, Nasdaq up four tenths of a percent and S&P

also looking strong, three tenths of a percent.

But it was the inflation data that also was that in that report that was encouraging which, of course, bodes the question, what will happen with the

interest rates down the line and of course, all the risks on the horizon? People are very focused on that. We will bring you analysis on the story in

just a moment.

But in the meantime, we want to turn our attention to what we've been seeing elsewhere in the U.S. And President Joe Biden's reelection bid now

has the endorsement of the United Auto Workers union. The long awaited announcement is an important boost for the president as he gears up for the

November election and an expected rematch with Donald Trump.

For more now, I want to bring in CNN's White House reporter -- we've got Priscilla Alvarez joining us now standing by at the White House.

Priscilla, what does the support from the union mean to Biden in terms of his chance to win the White House?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, this is a critical endorsement for battleground Michigan. This is where it could have some

effect. That's a state that in 2020, President Biden only won by three points. So, this was a crucial endorsement for him, that being the United

Auto where, or the union workers. Now, this is an endorsement that the president had been angling for, for some time, even taking the very rare

move of joining them on the picket line last year.

Now, in the endorsement that you're seeing there, the president really spoke to his -- him being the most union president, that's something that

the -- that President Biden has repeatedly said on the trail, and it's something that we expect him to do more of in the months to come. Again,

this being very critical to winning that state of Michigan, which is going to be very important for him to win a second bid at the White House.

But during his speech, he was also heckled by protesters who were calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. This has been another reality for President Biden,

as he hits the road. He's also being met by these protesters who have consistently called for a ceasefire in Gaza, as there continued to be

images of destruction and reports of mass casualties in Gaza.

Now, this really speaks to the divisions within the party. There are -- the president is going out there to tout the economy while also grappling with

divisions of his -- in his party over the situation in Israel. Now, Biden campaign aides have known that there would be protestors going into many of

these events.

They also point to polls that show that the majority of Americans are supportive of backing Israel, but it just speaks to the complicated

landscape that the president is having to navigate here, including when he goes to Wisconsin today, when he's going to talk about the economy. We'll

see there whether he also faces those protesters.

GIOKOS: Priscilla Alvarez, great to see you. Thank you so much.

Well, the Biden administration is also considering overhauling the natural gas approval process, which would throw major Gulf of Mexico projects into

question. It would change the way federal agencies approve massive natural gas export projects, focusing on the impacts the facilities have on the

climate. The White House declined to comment to CNN on this.

Well, after a delay of several days, Donald Trump is back in a New York City courtroom. We should find out soon if he's going to testify in the

civil defamation trial brought against him by former columnist E. Jean Carroll. Trump's lawyer says, the former president wants to testify at

earlier trial already found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll and defaming her.


This time, a jury will determine what damages, if any, he should pay and we'll have more on today's proceedings later on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Now the latest snapshots of the U.S. economy is just out, and it is a stunner. GDP rose at annualized 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023,

more than twice as fast as economists had anticipated. Economy watchers say, its an important number and one that the U.S. Fed will bear in mind

when it makes its decision about interest rates next week.

CNN's Matt Egan is standing by for us.

Matt, good to see you.

What a surprise, a big jump on GDP. You know, most people had expected, I think around 2 percent growth, but I mean, this is the issue, is a two

hearts of an economy. What is the Fed think of these overall numbers? I mean, it's showing resilience. But is it the resilience that the Federal

Reserve wants to see?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Eleni, this is a very impressive number, 3.3 percent growth, as you mentioned, blowing away estimates out -- one

economist describing these GDP figures as, quote, boomy.

And it was really driven by a lot of everyday Americans -- shopping. Consumer spending has been there very, very resilient. That is a big factor

here. Now, none of this is to say that the U.S. economy is perfect, right? It's not.

There are real affordability challenges out there, housing and childcare and trying to buy a car of working parents that I've talked to. They raise

all of these issues. But, it is great to see the fact that the economy continues to grow especially given the fact that a lot of economists were

worried about a recession right about now. And we are miles away from recession.

To your question though, about what this means for the Fed, I think that this could give the fed pause in terms of cutting interest rates. A lot of

investors and economists had been penciling in interest rate cuts beginning in March. And I do think that some of Fed -- some Fed officials may have a

hard time doing that at a time when the economy is growing at it above 3 percent pace, when unemployment is this low, they don't want to make

inflation worse.

But as you can see, the markets are liking these numbers. I mean, the Dow was up 120 points. A third of a percentage point than the S&P 500 is on

track for a fifth straight record high, which is pretty amazing.

So, Eleni, the markets don't seem to be overly concerned right now with what this means for the Fed.

GIOKOS: All right. Matt Egan, good to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us.

EGAN: Thank you.

GIOKOS: Now, to a newly surfaced video shot by passenger on the Alaska Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing when a door

plug panel blew out while the plane was in the air earlier this month.

Now, sources are telling "The New York Times" that the door plug panel on that Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane had been opened and re-installed by Boeing

prior to the flight, Boeing is not commenting on that.

Meantime, the U.S. government has cleared the way for Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets to fly again, pending final checks, Alaska Airlines says, it will begin

flying its 737 MAX 9 planes again from Friday following final inspections.

Roads across France are blocked. Again on Thursday as farmers ramp up their protests against President Macron's administration. Their union say

pressure from Paris to bring down food prices is threatening farmers livelihoods. They're demanding a change, of course, from the government and

also want environmental regulations to be relaxed.

Ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, a familiar face is returning to late night television in the U.S., just as the presidential race heats up. We'll tell

you in just a bit.

And in sports, another familiar face back in the finals of the Australian Open. That's ahead after this short break. Stay with us.



GIOKOS: He's back. Well, for one day week, anyway. Jon Stewart will again be hosting "The Daily Show" every Monday starting next month as part of a

rotating lineup of comedians in the host's chair. Stewart is known for his searing political commentary and he's sure to have plenty to say about the

U.S. presidential race and Donald Trump, in particular, who he strongly criticized in the past.

Stewart left "The Daily Show" in 2015, the year before Trump was elected president. So he's back.

All right. The women's final is set at the Australian Open and one of the participants, the defending champion, who exacted revenge over the woman

who bet her in the finals of last year's U.S. Open.

We've got Amanda Davies joining us now ought to give us the scoop on this.


Yeah, we know sport lives and dies by rivalries, doesn't it?


DAVIES: And it seems that Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff are developing a real rivalry which is keeping us entertained. Gauff took the spoils as you

rightly mentioned at the U.S. Open back in September when she claimed that Grand Slam title, but Sabalenka got something of a revenge here in the

semifinal in Melbourne to book her place in Saturday's final, becoming just the first woman since Serena Williams to reach back to back Australian Open

women's finals.

In 2017, she is up against a first time finalists to get her hands on the trophy once again, and we've got all the news on that and a report from

Melbourne coming up in just a couple of minutes.

GIOKOS: Fantastic. We'll see you after the break and ill be back at the top of hour.