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Isa Soares Tonight

U.S. Central Bank Makes Key Interest Rate Decision; Ceasefire Deal Takes Effect In Nagorno-Karabakh; Netanyahu, Biden Meet Amid Recent Tensions In New York; Russia's War On Ukraine; Ukraine May Be Striking Wagner-Backed Forces In Sudan; British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Scales Back On Green Measures; Exploring The Use Of Debt-for-Climate Swaps. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 20, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, and a very warm welcome everyone, I am Isa Soares. We are watching market reaction as the U.S.

Federal Reserve makes its September decision on interest rates. The Fed Chair Jerome Powell is due to speak in about half a minute -- 30 minutes or

so, Richard Quest joins us now, our business editor-at-large. Richard, has there been a decision from the Fed? I know you're keeping a close --


SOARES: Eye on your phone.

QUEST: Yes, I'm just going -- forgive me looking down. Yes, the Fed has not raised rates, they have paused. And this is what we were expecting. It was

the consensus. The latest inflation news was tricky -- I think that's the best word for it. And with so much already in the pipeline feeding through,

11 rate rises so far, the Fed has decided to pause, which was welcomed by the market, which is why we had seen the market higher. But I don't think

for a second it means that we're off the hook here. They're just --

SOARES: And it --

QUEST: Pausing to see.

SOARES: Pausing to see to have a look at the data.

QUEST: Yes --

SOARES: This is something that I believe the markets were expecting. We are expected to hear from Jerome Powell in 30 minutes. I know you're going to

be looking at the dot plot --

QUEST: Right --

SOARES: And you'll have much more because that's crucial right now in terms of guidance going forward.

QUEST: Right, I'm just looking at the statement now which I've been kindly handed to, it tells me that the economic activity is at a solid pace, job

gains have slowed, that's a good thing from the Fed's point of view, because it means the economy is slowing down, however, inflation remains

elevated. And I think the issue here is, the committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.

So now, we really do get tricky, because at some point they're going to have to work out, do they crush down to 2 percent --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Or do they stay and sort of just amble along in a happy family?

SOARES: We will have a look at what of course, the Fed chair says in about 30 --

QUEST: Yes --

SOARES: Minutes --

QUEST: Absolutely --

SOARES: We'll have the very latest in -- at the top of the hour, the next hour on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" --

QUEST: Absolutely --

SOARES: Richard, great to see you --

QUEST: Thanks --

SOARES: Thank you. Our top story this hour, after decades of conflict, Azerbaijan is looking to regain full control of a breakaway territory as a

fragile ceasefire takes hold. It agreed to end a brief military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh under Russian-broke truce, which calls for Armenian

separatists to disband and disarm.

Russian peacekeepers stationed in the region say they will help coordinate the ceasefire. Talks on the region's future are due to begin we're told

tomorrow. Dozens of people were killed in the offensive which drew condemnation from the West, but was supported by Turkey. It's still too

early to know if the truce will hold or how it might shift the regional balance of power.

Well, Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet republics, have fought two wars over Nagorno-Karabakh. The region is internationally recognized, as

you can see there on your map, as part of Azerbaijan, but it's dominated by ethnic Armenians and has its own de facto government.

Armenia is historically a Russian ally, but it now accuses Moscow of turning its back on the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Our Nic Robertson has

the very latest for you.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Casualties from Azerbaijan's deadly artillery assault rushed to hospital in the

majority-Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian death toll growing as the historic foe's fragile peace explodes into dangerous

warfare, with potentially disastrous consequences.

JENS STOLTENBERG, SECRETARY-GENERAL, NATO: We are concerned, and it is important that both parties now de-escalate.

ROBERTSON: A ceasefire agreed Wednesday, but they've been here before, two wars in the past 30 years over the disputed region. But in June, Azerbaijan

began blocking the strategic Lachin Corridor, the only link between Armenia proper and the 120,000 people living in the enclave internationally-

recognized as part of Azerbaijan, humanitarian aid convoys were denied access.


Russian peacekeepers couldn't or wouldn't get them through. Food and fuel in the enclave were in short supply.

LUIS GABRIEL MORENO OCAMPO, LAWYER: Blocking the Lachin Corridor.

ROBERTSON: Respected international lawyer Luis Moreno Ocampo wrote a legal opinion, calling the blockade "genocide". Azerbaijan disputes his analysis.

And in recent weeks, Armenians claim Azerbaijani forces were amassing weapons, readying for a new offensive. Tuesday, their fears of attack were

realized. The enclave's de facto capital, Stepanakert, echoing to gun and artillery fire. Frightened women and children cowering in the street.

OLGA GRIGORYAN, STEPANAKERT RESIDENT (through translator): We don't know how to live in such a situation, how to raise your children when you

constantly live in stress, tension and no one wants to help you.

ROBERTSON: Civilian homes smashed as Azerbaijani officials claim they've launched an offensive against "terrorists", demanded the Armenian army

leave, and the Nagorno-Karabakh government disband and depart. Armenia denies it's the aggressor.

NIKOL PASHINYAN, PRIME MINISTER, ARMENIA (through translator): Armenia is in no way involved in any military operation, and I reiterate that the

Republic of Armenia has no army in Nagorno-Karabakh.

ROBERTSON: EU politicians while calling for calm also calling out Russia's peacekeepers in action and Azerbaijan's intransigence.

ROBERTA METSOLA, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Full condemnation of the actions that we saw earlier today, but also a recognition that this is

Russia at play. We are seeing yet another conflict, a one-sided attack.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The fear for many Armenians is that Azerbaijan's terms for the ceasefire will be so tough, they will feel forced to leave

Nagorno-Karabakh, and that, they say would be ethnic cleansing. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


SOARES: Well, just a short time ago, Azerbaijan's president gave a national address saying his country's territorial integrity has been restored, and

the withdrawal of separatist forces has already begun. We want to get the Armenian perspective now. I'm joined by Varuzhan Nersesyan, that's Armenian

ambassador to the U.K., ambassador, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us today.

We understand as we have reported, our Nic Robertson reporting there, that a truce has been announced. Can you tell us what the terms of that truce

and how likely you believe that is to hold?

VARUZHAN NERSESYAN, ARMENIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.K.: Well, thank you very much for this interview. First of all, as Prime Minister of Armenia has

announced today, Armenia is not a part of the truce achieved this morning in Nagorno at 1:00 p.m. Armenian time between the Nagorno-Karabakh

authorities and Azerbaijan at the mediation of Russian peacekeepers.

So, we are -- because Nagorno-Karabakh has been cut off, you know, deliberately --

SOARES: Yes --

NERSESYAN: From outside and there was no connection, we didn't have much information. And tomorrow, there is expected to be some negotiations

between Nagorno-Karabakh representatives and Azeri(ph). But as prime minister underlined, Armenia as you know -- there are no Armenian troops on

the ground in Nagorno-Karabakh and no Armenian army.

And Armenia has not been party no matter how many times Azerbaijan tried to provoke and engage Armenia in this provocation.

SOARES: Understood, so you're not part of those talks, but clearly as those talks kick -- start tomorrow -- kick-start tomorrow, you will want to make

clear that certain lines and certain roles are met. What do you want? What do you need to say at that meeting? Clearly, it's about protection of

freedom and rights. So where do you draw the line there?

NERSESYAN: Absolutely, Armenia has been strongly advocating for the rights and the security of the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh. They have

been subjected to brutal and inhumane blockade for more than nine months. And as a combination of this blockade, the last Ilham Aliyev was the

Azerbaijani attack that was, you know, unleashed yesterday, a large-scale attack against 120,000 of civilian population.

So our aim is, of course, as the Republic of Armenia, we are expecting the international community would have a role and stay there. So, this is not

only up to Azerbaijan to decide when the -- then the rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have been -- have been violated. So for us -- we have

been advocating towards creation of certain international framework for direct dialogue between the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan

to protect rights and the securities of Nagorno-Karabakh population. This is what we are expecting from tomorrow's negotiations.


SOARES: And we saw in that piece from Nic Robertson mentioning the Russian peacekeepers that have been there since the last truce, I think it was in

2020. Their job, clearly, is to prevent further conflict. How do you view their work so far? Are they living up? Have they lived up, ambassador, to

their obligations here?

NERSESYAN: Well, we have been -- of course, Russian peacekeepers are stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh according to November 9th ceasefire

statement. And since then, they have been in general, maintaining the peace and security for the population of Nagorno-Karabakh. But there have been

certain instances that we have watched certain Azeri attacks and encroachment taking place while Russian peacekeepers haven't -- you know,

haven't responded the way they have been expecting.

SOARES: Why haven't they responded?

NERSESYAN: Well, it's a question perhaps, more to the Russian side. But we would have expected them to counter, for instance, when Azeri so-called

environmentally-closed and blockaded Lanchin Corridor for more than nine months. We would have expected Russian peacekeepers would have fixed the

situation, because it is under their mandate, the ceasefire statement says that Lanchin Corridor should have been under the control of Russian


So -- or for instance, in another occasion, a farmer has been shot in front of the Russian peacekeepers, who would have expected the -- you know,

peacekeepers would take measures. But overall, the peacekeepers are there and they have maintained the peace and security for the people of Nagorno-

Karabakh, and for tomorrow's negotiations, because it has happened under the auspices of Russian peacekeepers. We expect them to ensure the rights

and the security of the people.

SOARES: Let me ask you this, in the last few weeks -- and this is a conversation that Nic Robertson and I had this time yesterday on the show.

We have seen joint military exercises between U.S. and Armenia. We've seen Armenia moved to ratify, I believe the Rome Statute. Armenia has also

provided aid to Ukraine. How much has this, in the last few weeks -- in the last month or so, how much, ambassador, do you think this has rattled


NERSESYAN: Well, for Armenia, it's essential, sovereignty and independence. These are sacrosanct for our statehood, maintaining of our independence and

sovereignty. As to the Armenia-U.S. joint military drills in the Republic of Armenia, we have always announced that this is not a secret, it's not

being, you know, a surprise, this has being planned a long time ago. There were in the past, similar, you know, exercises -- and we have not -- we --

you know, this has not been directed against any third country.

SOARES: But do you think this has rattled them?

NERSESYAN: No. I mean, it's -- those exercises -- and you mentioned Armenia dispatching community --

SOARES: Yes --

NERSESYAN: This is a purely humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and we would prefer it's not politicized, because it's a tragic situation that we reach

out all parties and we dispatch. So, of course, there might be question between Armenia and Russia federation as strategic allies, because -- those

questions are constantly addressed through the channels of international -- intergovernmental dialogue.

And today, Prime Minister Pashinyan had a telephone conversation with President Putin. And no matter that these issues are publicly discussed,

we, of course, address those issues as partners and try to find out solutions.

SOARES: Ambassador, thank you very much -- thanks very much for coming in. Please take a seat. Thank you very much. Now, I want to turn to the United

Nations where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is renewing calls for Russia's veto power to be removed. He was speaking a few hours ago at the

U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

The leader said it was impossible to stop Russia's invasion because all efforts are vetoed by Moscow. Well, President Zelenskyy sat down with CNN's

Wolf Blitzer for a wide-ranging interview. He spoke of the pain as well as suffering many Ukrainians are feeling right now as their loved ones are

killed in the conflict. Here is a little snippet.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE: Of course, everybody who lost families, it doesn't matter where you lost it, in New York, in the center

of New York or in Kramatorsk, it doesn't matter, you lost, and that's it, and you'll never -- well, hear your children. Of course, when you lost your

family, you hate Russians or/and other terrorists.


SOARES: Well, Lithuania has contributed half a billion dollars' worth of military assistance to Ukraine's war efforts so far. It's latest package

includes detonation systems, radar, as well as ammunition. Lithuania is also starting to repair Leopard tanks for Ukraine this month. The country

says it will continue to support Kyiv until victory.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis joins me now from the United Nations headquarters. Minister, great to see you, great to have you

back on the show again. We heard -- we played a little clip there from President Zelenskyy, we also heard from him addressing Security Council

today, where he called for Russia's veto power to be revoked.


Are calls growing for Russia's removal, and how likely is this to happen?

GABRIELIUS LANDSBERGIS, FOREIGN MINISTER, LITHUANIA: Well, first of all, I think that President Zelenskyy used this opportunity to come to United

Nations live and reinvigorate the assistance to Ukrainian fight against invasion, and he mentioned all the right things. Yesterday in General

Assembly, he really called for things as they are.

And today, in Security Council, he called for the reform of the Security Council. And truly, I think that the time -- the time is right to ask these

questions, and even though they've been on the agenda for, I would say, last decade, but after Ukraine wins this war, I would not discount that

United Nations would find itself in a different situation than it is now.

SOARES: And the reality is, and you would have known this, you would have heard the comments, you know, at the U.N. this week, there are some

leaders, many leaders I should say, some from the global south that have decided not to take sides, many neutral to what is unfolding in Ukraine.

What do you say, minister, to those countries? Can they be brought on board, here?

LANDSBERGIS: Well, I think that also during the General Assembly, the phrase was set that Ukraine's fight is everybody's fight. If we allow a

country, an aggressive neighbor to cross its neighbor's borders, invade, asked to change the government, occupy parts of its territory, and if we

allow that reality to stay and to happen, that means that nobody can feel safe, no matter where you are, no matter which continent, no matter how big

you are. There was -- there is always a bigger -- the bigger fish that can -- again, that can threaten you.

SOARES: Did that resonate?


SOARES: Did that resonate? Do you think that he was able to change minds?

LANDSBERGIS: What we are seeing right now, or actually, what worries me a lot is that we see that the mood is different than it was a year ago. A

year ago, Ukraine was the question, the problem. Now, even President Biden, you know, he -- in his -- in his address, he mentioned a number of

problems. So the world, you know, has to accept the fact that there are other problems, there are other issues.

But we, especially those who are affected by the war the most, like my country, we need to address this. That until Ukraine has won, nobody is

safe. And actually, to add to that, I mean, we are -- if Ukraine is unable to win, if Putin can claim victory, then it spells problem and it spells a

new geopolitical reality for everybody, not just for Ukraine, not just for Lithuania and those who are bordering Russia, but basically, every country

now has to rethink where and how they are going to live if Ukraine is not able to win.

SOARES: Let's focus then on Ukraine, keep focus on Ukraine and on the counteroffensive, minister, we have been learning over the last several

weeks from our correspondents on the ground, from Ukrainian officials that progress is being made on that counteroffensive, both in the south as well

as in the east. In particular, in the last few days in Bakhmut. What is your assessment of the progress so far, and critically, what does Ukraine

need to keep up that momentum?

LANDSBERGIS: Well, first of all, we need to be patient. It's a very difficult war, and Ukraine is still not supplied enough. I know that many

countries has -- and my own country, we have devoted almost everything that we have, but it's still not enough. You know, the best comparison is to

what Ukraine actually needs to have a faster counteroffensive is to look into the countries that are purchasing weapons, that are also near Russia.

You know, take Poland for example. They've just secured a contract for almost 470 HIMARS rocket-launching systems, Ukraine has 20 of those. So,

you know, that's -- that can give you an idea of how much more Ukraine would need in order to have this counteroffensive going faster. So let's be

patient with them. They're paying for the counteroffensive with their blood, with the lives of their people.

We're just, you know, we're just footing the bill. So I don't think that it's morally right to expect them to go faster or criticize that they are

not achieving the goals that we think that should be achieved. They're doing what they can, and I have full trust that they can win.

SOARES: Minister, now that I have you here, briefly, I'm keen to get your thoughts on the tensions we've been seeing in Nagorno-Karabakh. What is

your assessment of this truce and can it last?

LANDSBERGIS: Well, there is some optimism today that there is a ceasefire, that negotiations might start. But the whole tendency is very worse, and I

don't think that it's just a coincidence that we are talking about Ukraine, about the war there, and another inflection point appearing in the



You know, some countries might seize this opportunity or see this as an opportunity so that the western countries are preoccupied with Ukraine, we

cannot divide our attention and then they can do things like shell civilian cities. So it is -- it is worrying, and yesterday, when the event started,

my country, as well as many other European countries, and you know, countries globally, asked for Azerbaijan to stop their -- to stop their

activities and sit down and peacefully negotiate for the solution.

SOARES: Gabrielius Landsbergis is Lithuanian foreign minister, sir, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us, thank you.

LANDSBERGIS: Thank you so much, thank you.

SOARES: And still to come tonight, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu have known each other for more than four decades. So what did the U.S. President

and Israeli Prime Minister have to talk about this time? We'll bring you all the details after this.


SOARES: Well, it wasn't a White House meeting, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of

the U.N. General Assembly. They pledged to work together to normalize Israeli ties with Saudi Arabia. Policy difference as well also on the table

with Mr. Biden saying hard issues would be discussed.

The White House says Mr. Netanyahu has been invited to Washington for a visit before the end of the year. We're joined now by Jerusalem

correspondent Hadas Gold and our senior White House correspondent Kayla Tausche. Hadas, let me start with you, as you and I have discussed before,

President Biden has made clear in the past that he disapproves of Netanyahu's plan to overhaul the courts. Given this, I mean how awkward was

this meeting?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it wasn't nearly as awkward as I think many of us thought it was going to be. It was a much

warmer, more conciliatory meeting. And it went essentially as well as Benjamin Netanyahu could have hoped it would have gone, considering all the

build-up to this meeting.

It's been nine long months that Benjamin Netanyahu had been waiting for this first face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden. Typically,

Israeli leaders are invited to Washington or invited to the White House within a few weeks of them taking office. That wasn't the case here. And

also, this is relegated to the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, and not in Washington, not at the White House.

But instead, what we got with these two leaders addressing each other using their first names. They had a nice, warm handshake at the end, about how

they could do great things together. There was an acknowledgment of what has soured the relationship over the past nine months or so, and as you

noted, this judicial overhaul.


But the way President Biden sounded today is much different than what we heard him say a few weeks ago when he was on the tarmac when somebody asked

him, you know, are you going to invite Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House any time soon? He was just like, no. And what is the reason for that?

And that is the prospect of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. And that seem to really be the top headline of this meeting. Take a listen

to how Benjamin Netanyahu described that today.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: I think that under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and

Saudi Arabia. And I think such a peace would go a long way first to advance the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict, achieve reconciliation between the

Islamic world and the Jewish state, and advance a genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinians.


GOLD: But there are huge gaps before obviously normalization can be reached, namely what will be offered to the Palestinians, and whatever that

offer will be, will that even pass muster in Benjamin Netanyahu's far right-wing government? Well, there are ministers who don't even believe

that a Palestinian state should exist. Some of them don't even think the Palestinian authority should exist.

But aside from the Saudi normalization, the issue of the overhaul is still very much on the table and could be actually heard likely in that room

because there were protesters, yes, the same types of protesters we have here in Israel every single week, there were protesters on the streets of

Manhattan protesting against the overhaul, protesting against Benjamin Netanyahu.

And according to reporters who are part of the pool with Netanyahu and Biden, you could hear them from inside the hotel. Now, Biden did address

this, and Benjamin Netanyahu did address that as well. But it definitely seem to me sort of second-tier to Saudi normalization.

SOARES: And stay with us, Hadas, let me go to Kayla. So Kayla, what did President Biden here want to get out of this meeting?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Biden has a long relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, as you mentioned,

they go back four decades. And it was clear that, that deep friendship was the foundation of this meeting. Many advisors had been telling President

Biden that if the White House still had this deep unease about the judicial overhaul, then it wasn't a good backdrop.

But President Biden's personal affiliation with BiBi worn out, and he wanted to take this meeting. He feels that he has a good relationship with

him, and that there is no stand-in for personal conversations like these. Now, President Biden did invite the prime minister to Washington before the

end of the year, that is something that has been in discussions for several months.

But they also covered a wide range of issues regarding stabilization in the Middle East, where President Biden said they want to have a more stable and

prosperous future. They also said that they had a shared goal of deterring Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And there was also a mention in the

readout from the White House and from a senior administration official who briefed reporters after the meeting, about the need to end violence in the

West Bank and to consult with regional partners to that end.

So, certainly, there were many issues that President Biden wanted to bring up with the prime minister, but ultimately, it was that personal

relationship that got this meeting on the books, even against the advice of some of his closest aides.

SOARES: Kayla, thank you very much, and Hadas Gold, I'm not sure if you're still with us, thank you to you, cheers. Thank you very much, ladies. And

still to come tonight, the EU says it and the U.S. are in lockstep when it comes to supporting Ukraine. My interview with European Parliament

President Roberta Metsola. That is next. Plus, King Charles and Queen Camilla are in France for a three-day state visit, we have the latest just





SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

"Stay the course, continue to help Ukraine fight the war," that is the message from the president of the European Parliament. Roberta Metsola says

the bloc remains united in its support of Ukraine. I spoke with her from the United Nations headquarters.


METSOLA: We have seen an unprecedented level of unity since the beginning of the war, with package after package of sanctions.

We are currently negotiating additional funding and ammunition, furnishing for Ukraine, to be able to continue, as we have also seen its

counteroffensive basically reclaiming land that is its own.

At the end of the day for us, from Europe, this is a war on our continent. Ukrainians are fighting for our freedoms and our values. And that is where

we can absolutely not look away, because that is exactly what Putin would want.

SOARES: You mentioned the counter offensive, Madame President. This clearly, from what I hear from Ukrainian officials and from our

correspondents on the ground in Ukraine, there is clearly momentum in this counteroffensive right now, be it in the south or in the east around


But do you worry that support, that this European unity may not be there, should former president Trump win the next U.S. election?

How concerned are European leaders about this?

METSOLA: Well, for us, the transatlantic relationship is today as strong as ever. We are in lockstep on the way we address the situation and the help

we give to Ukraine. And my hope, our hope would be that, post 2024, the situation will be the same regarding the counteroffensive we are seeing the

successes registered by Ukraine.

We are asked quite a lot, also myself as a legislator and elected politician, "Do you feel fatigued?"

But I can emphatically say that, among our citizens, the message is clear: stay the course, continue to help Ukraine fight our war.

SOARES: Let me turn to Europe, if I may, and the influx of migrants arriving on Lampedusa, a story we have been covering, here, on the show. We

have seen some 7,000 or so people arriving in just a matter of days.

What can Europe do, Madame President, to try and relieve the pressure on Lampedusa, on Italy as well, while wrapping up humanitarian corridors for

those who desperately need it?

METSOLA: I will start with your last words, persons who desperately need it --


METSOLA: -- who flee their countries of origin through countries of transit with hope of a better life in Europe.

What we have seen, however, is a policy that has so far failed. We have not managed to put the principle of asylum and solidarity together with that of

security. We have a pact of legislation, a number of legislative initiatives, on our table, which we are currently negotiating.

These were also some of the appeals that were contained in what Prime Minister Meloni and President Von der Leyen said on the island of

Lampedusa, an island where is now more than double its population with migrants who need a response.

Now what is that response?

It is clear that we need to be fair with those who are eligible for protection, firm with those who are not, in terms of our returns policy. We

need to break up the smugglers' model.

SOARES: I know E.U. leaders signed an agreement with Tunisia in July, for 100+ million euros to stop smugglers.

What happened to that deal?

What happened to those funds?

Is that still going ahead?

METSOLA: Our policy has always been that we talk to our international partners. We recognize the challenges that our neighborhood is facing. And

we really have to finally tackle this smugglers' model, which, at the end of the day, is aimed at preying on the most vulnerable people on this


At the end of the day, we could identify a balance between breaking up these models, identifying solidarity mechanisms, recognizing refugee status

and granting it to the persons who are eligible.

Then, I think we can really move forward into one that is not, I would say, a crisis management situation that we are in at the moment -- this time it

is Lampedusa, next week, it could be another part of the Mediterranean but also in other parts of Europe, as we saw, with hybrid migrants tactics,

such as in Belarus, with the borders of Poland and the Baltic states.


SOARES: Our thanks there, to Roberta Metsola.

King Charles is on his first state visit to France. The three-day trip was actually supposed to happen six months ago and had to be rescheduled

because of the violent potential of foreign (ph) protests right across the country.

French president Emmanuel Macron is pulling out all the stops to welcome the king and Queen Camilla. Max Foster has more.


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Isa, the red carpet literally rolled out, here, at the Elysee Palace and in France, generally, for this state


It was postponed from earlier in the year, an embarrassment for president Macron, because of the protests against pension reforms. So they are really

throwing everything at this state visit.

There was a full state ceremonial welcome at the Arc de Triomphe, a procession down the Champs-Elysees. All the roads were closed off and then,

on here, to the palace for a one-on-one meeting between the king and the president.

We will not find out what happened or what was said in that meeting but we heard from a source at the Elysee that the president is, as always, very

keen to speak to the king and the king is always keen to hear what the president has to say about international affairs.

The biggest honor of this visit, probably, will come on Thursday, when the king will be invited onto the senate floor, which is a first for any

British monarch, and to address the senators. So that is a big moment for Charles.

We expect him to speak French, which will be interesting. We are told he is fluent. The big test I think will be tomorrow. Then there will be a moment

as well, at the cathedral in Paris, of course, which burnt down.

They will have a look around to see the immense amount of work going into rebuilding and making it back as best as they can to what it was like.

SOARES: Max Foster, thank you very much.

Still to come, a CNN exclusive: unusual drone strikes in Sudan that could be linked to the war in Ukraine. We found some evidence about who may be


Then, later, what some middle income countries are proposing to eliminate foreign debt while tackling climate change. Both those stories after this.





SOARES: The fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine may be spreading far beyond Ukraine's borders. An exclusive CNN investigation has uncovered

compelling evidence that Ukrainian forces have struck Wagner-backed fighters inside Sudan.

It comes as Russia tries to expand its influence in Africa, following the death of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin. Nima Elbagir reports from Chad.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nightfall in a war-torn neighborhood in the Sudanese city of Omdurman. You are watching a

thermal imaging video depicting military forces equipped in high-tech gear. Far more sophisticated than the Sudanese have demonstrated to date.

And here, a series of high precision daytime strikes raining down from the sky, in and around the same city, hitting targets backed by Russia's Wagner

mercenary group in Sudan.

A Ukrainian military source told CNN this is the work of a foreign military. Pressed on whether they would say unequivocally that Kyiv was

behind the attacks. The source would only say that Ukrainian special services were likely responsible, which would constitute a dramatic

expansion in Kyiv's theater of war against Moscow.

Previous CNN investigations exposed that the Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, RSF, has been heavily backed by Wagner as they fight the

Sudanese army in a war for dominance.

CNN obtained a series of videos of the operations show 14 different strikes on RSF weapons and equipment, believed to be provided by Wagner.

We pinpointed several different locations of the drone strikes in Omdurman, an RSF stronghold that has become a focal point of the conflict. And we

geolocated footage of the night raid to the same city by identifying the buildings seen here.

The drone video, obtained by CNN, had already been edited but clues remained as to the identity of those behind the attacks. Text on the

monitor of the drone control, as seen here, is in Ukrainian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Press to start recording --

ELBAGIR (voice-over): These commercially-available drones are widely used by Ukrainian forces. They have a maximum video transmission range of around

nine miles. That means we can tell the pilots of the drones were in Sudan, close by.

It's a common tactic in Ukraine but not so much in Sudan. Drone experts consulted by CNN said this is the first time drones like this have been

deployed in this fashion in Africa.

CNN shared the videos with a high-level source in Sudan's army for comment, who said they had no knowledge of the Ukrainian operation in Sudan and did

not believe it was true.

Sudan became embroiled in Russia's war against Ukraine last year, despite being thousands of miles from the front line.

When as we reported, Wagner exploited Sudan's gold resources to help finance Moscow's Ukraine war effort, circumventing U.S. sanctions on


After a plane carrying Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin plummeted to the ground --


ELBAGIR (voice-over): -- late last month, many believed that Wagner's influence would proceed. But just the opposite has happened.

Major whistleblowers in a number of African countries have told CNN that the Kremlin is consolidating its power over Wagner's networks. In the

Central African Republic, in Sudan, in Libya and in Mali. And now that work has expanded further, this time into Chad.

ELBAGIR: Chad has really been impacted by the fighting in neighboring Sudan. And yet, it's emerging as a key transit point for supplies to the

Rapid Support Forces in Sudan. Part of an expansion of Russia's influence in Africa.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Cross-referencing testimony from intelligence and military sources active in the region with satellite imagery, CNN has

uncovered evidence that Wagner arms crossed through Chad within the last two weeks to get to an RSF military base in Sudan.

If you look closely, you can see over 100 vehicles, including scores of trucks at the base, proof the supplies provided by Russia, Wagner,


A strike on Wagner-backed forces in Sudan would constitute a blow to Moscow. If it is Ukraine, they will have raised the stakes for those

willing to accept Wagner's backing in the future, a lesson illustrating the price they could be forced to pay for cooperating with Russia -- Nima

Elbagir, CNN, N'Djamena, Chad.


SOARES: Still to come tonight, while much of the world focuses on climate action, Britain plans to roll back some of its green measures. Anna Stewart

joins me with the latest.




SOARES: As world leaders are calling for more climate action, British prime minister Rishi Sunak is scaling back on some green policies. Mr. Sunak says

Britain is delaying a series of key climate targets to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Promises are easy but hard cash is hard to find, as the prime minister found out. It was his predecessor, Boris Johnson, who made extravagant

pleasures (sic) about green investments and net zero but that was before the financial crisis.

Anna, talk about what he decided, he said and the timing of all this.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Critically, it is important to note that the target of net zero by 2050 has not changed. So there will be no change

in legislation, no need for a parliamentary vote and the net zero target is there.


STEWART: What he has watered down, though, is some of the policies intended to help us get there. Before we get into them, there are two reasons he

gives as to why.

One is that the U.K. is further ahead than many other nations, the fastest reductions in greenhouse admissions of the G7; i.e., some sort of carbon

headroom to be able to relax policy.

Secondly, cost-of-living crisis; people cannot afford to be forced to buy a new electric car instead of a petrol or diesel car, a new boiler for their

homes and so on. That brings us on to some of these announcements.

First, there is a delayed ban so there still will be a ban on new petrol and diesel cars, delayed by five years. That has not made carmakers happy.

He has relaxed rules on heating homes, saying there were plans to phase out oil and gas boilers.

Again, that is sort of still there but with exemptions, it is very much watered down and he is offering some grants to help people get there.

SOARES: Let's talk about the politics of this. The timing is interesting, it comes today, when the UNGA are talking about climate change.

But for him, politically, what is he trying to achieve?

Is this the starting bell for an election campaign?

STEWART: I think so. In terms of the timing, he probably didn't want it to be today but, unfortunately, the BBC leaked all of this yesterday and it

really forced the government's hand.

In terms of the politics of this all, some of the measures he was talking about are not even policy. But his government opposes them. I am sure we

have a list we can show you.

He opposes measures such as taxing eating meat or discouraging flying. He talked at length about refusing to support any plan to sort your trash into

seven different bins. These are not actually policies but this does play well, particularly for that red wall, you remember in the last election.

Conservatives won a load of seats in traditionally Labour heartlands, people who are struggling with --


STEWART: -- this may win them over.

SOARES: What does this mean for business?

There are a lot of automakers, of course, spending a lot of money, investing toward net zero.

How have they reacted?

STEWART: Energy companies and car companies are not happy. In fact, as soon as the story was leaked yesterday, we had some pretty severe reaction. You

can imagine why, particularly from carmakers.

They have invested a lot of money to get to a point where they believe electric car sales will fly off from 2030. This really changes their plans.

So there has been an erosion of trust from the business community.

SOARES: Anna Stewart, thank you very much

Colombia and other middle income countries are endorsing the idea of swapping foreign debt for sustainable planet solutions. This as the climate

crisis is under focus at the United Nations General Assembly. Stefano Pozzebon has a story.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What do climate protesters in New York and British royalty have in common?

WILLIAM, PRINCE OF WALES: This is the decade of change.

POZZEBON (voice-over): A series of unprecedented national disasters this summer, from cyclones in Brazil to catastrophic floods in Libya, laid all

too bare the need for a transition to more sustainable practices.

This week at the United Nations General Assembly, who will pay for that transition is a big topic. Middle income countries like Colombia are

proposing to swap foreign debt to be able to spend more on climate mitigation.

The idea presented by Colombian environment minister Susana Muhamad is for multilateral institutions to pay back discounted debt from certain debtor

nations, which then redirect those funds for conservation projects and renewable energies.

We will need to invest something like 3 to 4 points of GDP annually in climate to fulfill those promises that we made to the Paris agreement. And

we are only investing 0.16 percent.

POZZEBON (voice-over): Muhamad believes Colombia will soon have to plan for relocating communities from some of the areas most affected by climate

change, while building infrastructure to prevent disasters like those seen elsewhere.

Regional foreign debt to allow more resources to be spent on climate might sound too good to be true but it is not impossible. The small country of

Belize did just that in 2021.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We refinanced 550 million, so the entirety of Belize's foreign commercial debt, generating 180 million of savings toward marine

conservation, allowing the country to credibly protect 30 percent of its ocean.

POZZEBON (voice-over): Replicating the success of tiny Belize on a global scale will present new challenges, of course. Experts from the IMF and the

private sector believe debt-for-climate swaps are not the only strategy but can be a powerful instrument for middle income countries looking to make

their climate adaptation more efficient.

SEBASTIAN ESPINOSA, FOUNDING PARTNER, WHITE OAK ADVISORY: These definitions are not (INAUDIBLE) panacea for those kinds of underlying debt problems.

Nobody should embark on debt swaps simply --


ESPINOSA: -- because they think they will be able to reduce their debt or ...

POZZEBON (voice-over): This week, calls to address climate change took center stage at the U.N. Even its largest donor promised to create new

partnerships to reach sustainable development. Who will foot the bill, however, remains uncertain -- Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Bogota.


SOARES: Staying with climate change in the conversation with Anna, regarding prime minister Sunak scaling back from green policies, I will

play a clip from one former U.S. politician reacting to that decision.


AL GORE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND CLIMATE ACTIVIST: First of all, I am not a citizen of the United Kingdom and it will be for the people of the

U.K. to decide how to react to this.

But I will say, on a personal basis, I find it shocking and really disappointing. Of course, I think he has done the wrong thing. I have heard

from many of my friends in the U.K., including a lot of Conservative Party members, by the way, who have used the phrase "utter disgust."

And some of the young people there feel as if their generation has been stabbed in the back. I mean, it is really shocking to me. But, again, this

is an issue for the U.K. to handle.


SOARES: Al Gore speak to our Christiane Amanpour.

That does it for us for today. Thank you very much for your company. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next, the very latest on the Federal Reserve, of

course, pausing while it reviews the data. More analysis, coming up.