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Isa Soares Tonight

Blinken Wraps Up Visit to the Middle East; World Leaders Arrive in Italy for G7; Russian Warships in Cuba; Russian Ships and Nuclear-Powered Sub Reach Cuba; Impact of U.S. Federal Reserve's Decision; European Union Increasing Tariffs on Chinese EVs from China; Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Deal in Limbo; CNN Speaks to UNICEF Global Spokesperson; Athens Acropolis Temporarily Closed Because of Extreme Heat; Bee Population Dwindling in Nepal. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 12, 2024 - 14:00:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: All right, a very warm welcome to the show to all of you, I am Zain Asher, in for my colleague Isa Soares.

Tonight, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wraps up his visit to the Middle East, and we'll have the latest on a ceasefire proposal and where

both Hamas and Israel stand.

Then Russian warships including a nuclear-powered submarine arrive in Cuba in a brand new show of force. We are live in Havana to explain the

significance of that. Plus, as world leaders set to meet in Italy for the G7, CNN is learning the U.S. and Ukraine will sign a long-term security

agreement on the meetings sidelines. That and much more ahead.

All right, some of the changes are workable and some are not. That's how U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken characterizes the Hamas response to

a U.N. -- U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal for Gaza. Blinken wrapped up days of talks with key regional players today, ending his trip in Qatar.

He says Hamas has requested numerous changes to the ceasefire plan while Israel has accepted what is on the table -- we have not heard that though,

it's important to note from the Israeli government itself. But Blinken says Hamas alone is to blame.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: One side continues to change its demands, including making demands and insisting on changes for

things that had already accepted. You have to question whether they're proceeding in good faith or not.

But based on what we've seen and what I've discussed with the Prime Minister and what we discussed with our Egyptian colleagues, we're

determined to try to bridge the gaps, and I believe those gaps are bridgeable, it doesn't mean they will be bridged, because again, it

ultimately depends on people saying yes.


ASHER: Blinken also said a ceasefire in Gaza would have a tremendous effect on lowering hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah as well.

Israel's military says that 200 rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon today alone, no injuries were reported.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were actually retaliation for Israel's assassination of a key Hezbollah commander. All of

this comes amid a damning new U.N. report on the first few months of the war in Gaza. The inquiry finds that both Israel and Hamas have committed

war crimes and grave violations of international law.

It's the U.N.'s first in-depth investigation of the October 7th attacks and Israel's ensuing war on Hamas. The report accuses Hamas of intentionally

directing attacks against civilians, as well as murder and torture, while it accuses Israel of crimes against humanity, defining that as widespread

attacks on the civilian population of Gaza.

Israel strongly disputes the findings. So, let's get more now from Oren Liebermann in Tel Aviv, we also have Kylie Atwood in Qatar. Kylie, let me

start with you because Secretary Blinken is placing the blame squarely on Hamas for the hold-up in terms of this ceasefire agreement.

What more can you tell us about what the Qataris are saying and how much power the Qataris have as mediators in this to put pressure on Hamas?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, as you said, the Secretary of State said that what Hamas has come back to the table with are

multiple requests for changes. Some of those are workable and some of those are not. And as you said, it's going to be Iset(ph) on trying to bridge the

gaps between the two sides.

But the secretary was quite clear and expressing some frustration with regard to what Hamas has done here, saying that some of what they've come

back with goes beyond their positions in the past effectively, they're moving backwards, not forwards in terms of trying to get closer to the

position to the U.S.-backed proposal that was put on the table that the Israelis have accepted though, of course, as you noted, we haven't heard

that explicitly from the prime minister himself.

But this is a readily critical moment because it's not clear how they're going to move forward right now.


And the negotiators are obviously, you know, very involved in this here in Qatar, the Qatari Prime Minister standing there with the Secretary of State

today expressing frustration over the course of this process, but also saying that they are committed to trying to continue getting both sides to

the right place on this, and we'll have to watch and see what that actually looks like.

The Secretary of State said that there needed to be urgent action in the coming days on this. So, we'll watch to see, you know, what the

conversations between the Qataris and Hamas and Egypt and Hamas, and the Israelis and the United States all stay on this -- we should note that the

Israelis still have not come out with a formal comment on Hamas' response here.

We have heard privately from some Israeli officials, they have, you know, cast doubt on what has come forth here, but we haven't heard from the Prime

Minister himself. But as the Secretary of State left Doha here tonight, it was very unclear what the path forward is actually going to look like.

ASHER: Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty. Kylie Atwood life for us there, thank you so much. Oren, let me bring you in because we have seen an

escalation in terms of tension along Israel's northern border. Just walk us through what's happening on that front, especially after an Israeli

airstrike killed a Hamas military or rather Hezbollah military commander.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We have seen an escalation in the volatility, the hostility of attacks across the northern border between

Israel and Hezbollah over the course of the past couple of weeks. For example, about a week or so, there were fires raging in northern Israel

because of extended Hezbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel.

And that dangerous trajectory has continued to this point. Israel carried out a strike last night in Lebanon, in southern Lebanon, I should say that

killed a Hezbollah commander, Talib Sami Abdallah, as well as several other Hezbollah militants. In response, we have seen Hezbollah launch some 200

rockets or so at northern Israel, sparking a number of other fires, which I believe at this point, are under control, but they forced more evacuations

on top of tens of thousands of Israelis that have already evacuated from northern Israel.

Now, from one side, that essentially volatility and the fighting across the northern border does not affect the ceasefire negotiations. In other words,

those can move forward if there is a possible path for them to do so. On the other side, war across the northern border, the closer that gets, the

more dangerous the situation becomes, and effectively one or two miscalculations by either Israel or Hezbollah can send that over the

tipping point even if we're not there yet.

And that is the grave concern that the hostilities there open up another front in this war, and that's what everybody is trying to avoid here,

especially the diplomatic effort to get to some sort of off ramp that was unsuccessful, leaving the situation much like it is.

So, a very dangerous situation there, and one we'll be watching very closely, one Secretary of State Antony Blinken is fully aware, could end

very quickly if there is a ceasefire agreement in the fighting in Gaza.

ASHER: And Oren, just talk to us a bit more about what has been the Israeli response so far to this U.N. investigation into potential war

crimes that have been committed, according to them, by the Israelis and by Hamas as well.

LIEBERMANN: Not just Hamas, but by all of the other Palestinian militant groups, including for example, Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The report itself

broken down into two large sections, one focusing on the actions of those militant groups, including Hamas which revolves around October 7th, the

other part of the report focusing on Israel's campaign in Gaza.

Zain, you did a phenomenal job of summarizing the report as we got into this discussion here on October 7th, that focuses on the targeting of

civilians' acts of murder and torture carried out by Hamas and other militant groups as well as sexual violence, the kidnapping including of

children, of entire families and others.

We have not yet seen a response from either Hamas or other militant groups there. In terms of Israel, it focuses on what they call a systemic and

widespread targeting of civilians attacks hat have maimed and killed tens of thousands of children there, starvation as a weapon of war, also acts of

sexual violence accused by the U.N. against Israeli forces there.

Israel was not part of this investigation, and the U.N. says Israel tried to obstruct the carrying out of this investigation. In response, Israel

last night said it was carried out by anti-Israel group in this commission of inquiry, as well as ignoring what happened on October 7th and viewing it

very much through a Palestinian lens.

ASHER: Right, Oren Liebermann live for us there, thank you so much. Right, four hostages rescued by Israeli forces last week are back home, but face a

long difficult road ahead, one of them is Andre Kozlov. He was working as a security guard at the Nova Music Festival on October 7th when he was

kidnapped by Hamas.


Our Paula Hancocks spoke to Kozlov's brother and father about his rescue and his eight months in captivity. Paula Hancocks joins us live now. Paula,

it is impossible to imagine that there wouldn't be, right, some kind of psychological and emotional trauma after experiencing eight months in

captivity by a terrorist organization. What has Kozlov's family members told you about what he experienced?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zain, one thing that struck me was something that his father said that he didn't believe

that the Hamas captors actually viewed his son as a human. He said that his son has been telling him some of what happened, he has admitted that there

are certain things he will never share with his family.

But his father did give us some details of the abuse and the mistreatment that he did endure over the past eight months.



HANCOCKS (voice-over): When the Israeli military launched Saturday's rescue mission in Gaza, one of the hostages thought they had come to kill

him. Andrey Kozlov shanks his name in terror to the troops --


HANCOCKS: His family says the Hamas guards told them for months, the sounds of war they were hearing were Israel trying to target them as they

were causing trouble for the state.


HANCOCKS: His brother Dmitry(ph) tells me, he didn't understand why the IDF came. He was afraid they came to kill him. It took some time to realize

they had come to rescue him. Psychological abuse coupled with frequent punishments marked Kozlov's captivity, according to his family.

"They were trying not to leave marks", his brother says, "because actually it is their reputation that they would still punish him this way or the

other." "He has told us there's some moments he will never share with us", his father says. "But one he did share is that at the hottest time of the

day, they would cover him in blankets. It's a difficult ordeal to be dehydrated through heat."

Kozlov, 27 years old is a Russian citizen who moved to Israel almost two years ago, he was working as a security guard at the Nova Music Festival on

October 7th when he was kidnapped and taken into Gaza. His parents flew from Russia Sunday for an emotional reunion, one they hadn't dared to hope

for after eight long months.

"This is the best scenario we could have hoped for", his father says, "to see him alive, to feel his presence and to hug him. It is outstanding." His

mother says "we are infinitely happy to see him, he loves, he jokes, he enjoys communicating with all of us, with his family, with doctors, with

the people who surround him."

His family says Kozlov was shocked when Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to visit him and the three other hostages rescued while in

hospital. As for those hostages still in Gaza, his father says a deal or a rescue, whatever it takes to get them out.


HANCOCKS: And earlier this week, we spoke to the doctor in charge of the medical treatment for Kozlov and also for the other three hostages, and he

said that there had been physical, mental and other types of abuse at the hands of their captors, and it would take a long time to recover, Zain?

ASHER: Right, Paula Hancocks live for us there, thank you so much. And later on in the show, I'm going to be speaking with UNICEF Global

spokesperson James Elder, who is also keeping a close eye on the ceasefire talks too, while he's on the ground in Gaza, that interview is about half

an hour away from now.

All right, as world leaders gather in Italy for this week's G7 Summit, CNN is learning the U.S. and Ukraine will sign a long-term security agreement

on the meeting's sidelines. U.S. President Joe Biden is on his way to Italy, he's set to land in about two hours or so where he's expected to

commit the U.S. to helping train Ukraine's Armed Forces for another 10 years.

The war in Gaza, climate change and artificial intelligence will be key topics as well. CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is at

the meeting in southern Italy, he joins us live now. So, just talk us through about the main topics of interest here, obviously Ukraine, China's

support for Russia, this long-term security agreement that is being signed by both the United States and Ukraine as well.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I think Ukraine is really going to kind of dominate tomorrow, although, the first issue on

the agenda will be Africa development and climate.


And that feeds into the fact that the G7 nations are the most economically strong democratic nations in the world, and they have an obligation to help

other countries. But this has a real pointed focus for countries like Italy and the rest of Europe as well, because the situation in sub-Saharan Africa

is driving many migrants to seek a better life in Europe, and that is a big political pressure on the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who is

hosting this G7.

But it will be Ukraine, I think that gets a lot of eyes and attention because there's a lot happening on that front. The G7 leaders will figure

out a way to use frozen Russian assets to provide a $50 billion fund to support Ukraine's reconstruction. The technicalities, that's what really

has to be nailed down, a lot of the leg work is done, then you have President Biden's bilateral security agreement with Ukraine.

This doesn't have a fixed financial amount on it, but it follows in the footsteps of 14 other NATO nations that have already formed these bilateral

security packs and other 17 countries in NATO waiting to do that. So, a strong signal from President Biden that they should do, and it is what --

part of what Ukraine was looking for at the NATO Summit last year.

It wanted that commitment, that article five commitment that in essence that were not a member of NATO. It wanted kind of the same rights that if

it's attacked, all the NATO members will come and support it. Well, the version of this that they got was the security deal. So, one of the things

President Biden will sign up to in this deal is a commitment for the United States to support Ukraine in the future if it were attacked by Russia,

obviously, looking beyond the current war.

But these are the assurances that Ukraine is wanting. And then there's the sanctions you were mentioning. The technologies that Russia is managing to

get to use in this war machine. U.S. technologies, software, intellectual property, chips that are circumventing sanctions, and what the United

States wants to do with these 300 additional sanctions President Biden will speak to that we're expecting tomorrow is find a way to stop this

technology getting to Russia.

And that will include China, and of course, China, the Indo-Pacific will be another important topic for the United States coming up on the agenda

Friday, as will, AI. And that's something the pope is coming here for. It's the first-time a pope has visited the G7, and he comes, you know, bringing

his technical background, bringing his spiritual leadership with a message for the leaders that AI is good, it's useful.

But you're going to have to control this technology to make sure it's not used for evil, something, he felt personally late last year when a

picture of him in a white puffer jacket ended up circulating. Of course, it turned out to be an AI fake.

ASHER: Yes, and as a result of that deep fake, I mean, obviously, as you point out, AI is now a topic that he cares a lot about, and he believes

that AI can be used for peace, worth noting, the Vatican has signed a partnership with Microsoft on the exact same topic using AI for good. Nic

Robertson live for us there. Thank you so much.

All right, some breaking news for you, moments ago, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it is keeping interest rates unchanged, it will keep them

the same, which is largely expected. That means that borrowing costs for things like car loans, mortgages in the U.S. are going to remain high.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is expected to discuss that exact decision this hour and later, we're going to take a deeper dive into this move, into this

decision by the Fed along with the latest figures on inflation and what they could mean for the U.S. economy going forward.

Once again, the Fed in the U.S. deciding to keep interest rates unchanged. All right, still to come tonight, Russian Navy ships including a nuclear-

powered submarine arrive in Cuba. What does this mean for Moscow-Washington relations and what is the message that Vladimir Putin is trying to send?

We'll have a live report for you from Havana. Plus, the U.S. is ending a ban to allow military aid to a certain critical group in Ukraine. We'll

have a live look at that as well.



ASHER: All right, welcome back. The two major stories involving tensions between Moscow and Washington, the first in Cuba, where Russian warships

including a nuclear-powered submarine have reached the port of Havana. This is the biggest visit of its kind in years, and a Russian show of force to

the United States.

American officials tell CNN that U.S. warships and planes have been tracking the vessels. Meantime, the U.S. is now giving additional aid to

Ukraine's fight against Russia. The U.S. has now lifted a ban on sending military aid to the Azov Brigade. The group has been praised for its

critical fight against Russia and the occupation of Mariupol.

But when it started out as a militia several years ago, the unit was associated with white supremacists and neo-Nazi ideology and symbols.

Russia has actively tried to play up those connections to justify its invasion. And the Kremlin compares the U.S.' decision to flirting with Neo-


The Azov Brigade has repeatedly denied allegations of fascism, Nazism and racism, but it welcomed the U.S. decision, calling it, quote, "a new page

in the history of our unit". Those are their words. Joining us live now with -- from Washington with more is Natasha Bertrand.

So, the U.S. is essentially saying that military aid can now go to the Azov Brigade despite its controversial past --obviously allegations, as I

mentioned there of racism, ties with white supremacists, ties with right- wing nationalist group as well. But the U.S. is also saying that a vetting process found that there were no human rights violations too. What more can

you tell us about that?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Zain, that's right. So, the U.S. House, this process is known as the Leahy Law, that requires the U.S. to

investigate whether a country that it is providing weapons to or Italian or a nation-state that is providing weapons to is complying with human rights

obligations in the use of those weapons.

And it says that after a lengthy investigation of whether the Azov Brigade had violated any of those Leahy Law obligations, committed any gross human

rights violations, the State Department found that it had not, and you know, this obviously -- this brigade has a fraught history, but the State

Department says that the militia that it originally began as back in 2014, really bears no resemblance to what it has become, which is a brigade that

in 2023 was actually absorbed into Ukraine's National Guard.

Now, in a statement, the State Department actually said that, of course, Russia is actively working to discredit the unit. They have long tried to

conflate this National Guard unit with the militia that was formed, as I said in 2014, to defend against that initial Russian invasion of Ukraine.

But that, the two are actually separate, that the Azov battalion actually disbanded back several years ago.


So, they're trying to make this, you know, differentiation between what it was and what it is now. And of course, the Azov Brigade, they have

repeatedly denied that they have any ties to white supremacy or Neo-Nazism. Essentially, the State Department now saying that, that is deliberate

disinformation that the Russians are playing up in order to discredit this unit that has been very successful in the defense of Ukraine, particularly

around that key city of Mariupol early in the days of the war.

So, obviously, this is going to be very helpful for that brigade, for Ukraine's National Guard, especially as the U.S. is really trying to ramp

up its support now for the Ukrainians, seeing a window of opportunity to provide them with additional weapons and ammunition and equipment that they

need to fend off the Russians, everything.

ASHER: And the U.S. is ramping up its assistance to Ukraine on so many fronts, increasing assistance overrule to the country, but as you

mentioned, as we were talking about now, assistance specifically to the Azov Brigade and also more crucially, recently, allowing the Ukrainians to

strike inside Russia using U.S. weaponry.

What more can you tell us about Vladimir Putin's response to that? Obviously, we saw his immediate response in terms of saying that Russia

will now back American enemies or Russia will now provide weapons to American enemies as well in response to that. But what sort of retaliation

is the U.S. bracing for or concerned about here?

BERTRAND: Well, look, I mean, I think one major thing that we have seen in recent days is something that you mentioned a little earlier, which is

those Russian exercises and that Flotilla that has come extremely close to the United States en route to Havana, Cuba.

The Pentagon actually made a direct link between President Biden's decision to, you know, allow Ukraine to use U.S.-made weapons to strike into Russia,

and the timing of these Russian exercises in the Caribbean clearly meant to flex Russia's military muscles and show that it has the ability to exert

this kind of power in this region so close to the United States.

And so, while it comes as not necessarily a surprise to the U.S. that the Russians would try to do this, they have been tracking their every movement

really since they have been moving across the Atlantic and down into the Caribbean. They do understand that it is also a lot of posturing by the

Russians, particularly as the U.S. has really ramped up its support for the Ukrainians.

So, as of right now, they don't expect any massive kind of retaliation from the Russians against, for example, western interests or against NATO for

allowing, you know, that policy shift, allowing the use of U.S. weapons to strike inside Russia. But still, obviously, tensions are a lot higher and

the risk of any kind of miscalculation, particularly in this region as that Russian Flotilla is in the Caribbean, is something that they're watching

very closely.

ASHER: All right, Natasha Bertrand live for us there, thank you so much. All right, and back to the Cuba story where we are now joined by CNN's

Patrick Oppmann in Havana, who has been following the arrival of Russian military's ship in the port.

So, Patrick, this really marks the sort of largest show of force by the Russians in Cuba in many years, obviously, it's very reminiscent of a -- an

earlier time in our history. But just talk us through what message Vladimir Putin is really trying to send the West with this.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I really should point out to you that there are different ways of doing this. There have been times

where spy ships, Russian spy ships have come refilled in Cuba, submarines, and we really haven't been the wiser.

You hear about it, you're asked about it, but you're not able to see them. And then you have really the center of old Havana across our offices,

offices where there's another -- other press organizations and you have four Russian Navy vessels, including a Russian nuclear-powered submarine,

something the Cubans say they've never actually seen with their own eyes here before.

So, it doesn't get more high profile, this doesn't get more symbolic than this Cuban officials say that many countries send their ships to visit. But

of course, no other country other than Russia in the past has based with the Cuban government's permission nuclear warheads just off the coast of

the United States.

So, you have that history, that history, of course, is fresh in everyone's minds, even if it happened more than 60 years ago. And just to make his

point even more clear of Vladimir Putin, you know, the Russian government tells us that they are allowing Cubans to tour these ships starting

tomorrow for several days, at least, one of these ships.

So, again, it is a show of might, it is something about blast from the past. It is as well, we should point out, a time where the Cuban government

is increasingly dependent on Russian aid, on Russian oil to keep the lights on, on Russian food, to keep some products in their markets.

And they have agreed with Russia to receive more investments in agriculture and tourism.


So, even though, Russia is no longer the Soviet Union, even though there will not be billions of dollars of aid pouring in Cuba has to take what

they can get because they are confronted with the worst economic situation here in decades. And on one side, you have the U.S. adding more sanctions

over the last several years. And now, with the war in Ukraine, certainly Russia is looking for a close relationship with Cuba. But of course, the

question is, what are they going to ask for in return?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Patrick Oppmann, thank you. Still to come tonight, more on the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates

and how it may impact the American economy ahead of that critical election in November.


ASHER: All right. Just minutes ago, as expected, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced that interest rates will stay at their current levels. The Fed

says they're making good progress against inflation, but that may not be enough to cut interest rates as much as Wall Street was hoping for. Let's

go to Washington where Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is speaking. Let's listen.

JEROME POWELL, CHAIR, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: -- more recent monthly readings have eased somewhat. Longer-term inflation expectations appear to

remain well anchored as reflected in a broad range of surveys of households and businesses and forecasters, as well as measures from financial markets.

The median projection in the SEP for total PCE inflation is 2.6 percent this year, 2.3 percent next year, and 2.0 percent in 2026.


My colleagues and I are acutely aware that high inflation imposes significant hardship as it erodes purchasing power, especially for those

least able to meet the higher costs of essentials, like food, housing, and transportation. On our monetary policy actions are guided by our dual

mandate to promote maximum employment and stable prices for the American people.

In support of these goals, the committee decided at today's meeting to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at five and a quarter

to five and a half percent, and to continue reducing our securities holdings. As labor market tightness has eased and inflation has declined

over the past year, the risks to achieving our employment and inflation goals have moved toward better balance. The economic outlook is uncertain,

however, and we remain highly attentive to inflation risks.

We've stated that we do not expect it will be appropriate to reduce the target range for the federal funds rate until we have gained greater

confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2 percent. So, far this year, today have not given --

ASHER: All right. Fed Chair Jerome Powell speaking there, essentially saying that it wouldn't have been appropriate. It wouldn't have been

appropriate at this point in time to cut interest rates given what's happening with inflation in this country. He did say that he was acutely

aware of the fact that high inflation in America is a burden. It's a huge burden to lower income Americans. He's aware that that is an economic

problem for them.

I want to bring in Matt Egan, who has also been listening to Jerome Powell speak. And, Matt, he's right. I mean, you think about the fact that lower-

and middle-income Americans are the ones who really suffer the most, not just because you have inflation. And that means that everyday goods are

much more expensive. But you also, on top of that, have high interest rates, and that affects personal credit card debt as well. So, they're

being hit from both sides of the equation. Take us through that.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Zain. It's a double whammy. You have the high prices, the high borrowing costs, and we did get some relief

today on the price front, but no relief on the borrowing cost front, not yet, at least. The Fed keeping interest rates on hold for the seventh

meeting in a row. That was widely expected. The big suspense was going to be over what the Fed was projecting going forward.

And from the perspective of borrowers, I mean, the good news is the Fed is still penciling in one interest rate cut this year. But that's down, right,

from three rate cuts. That was the projection a few months ago. And remember, going into this year, a lot of people on Wall Street were

expecting six interest rate cuts. So, we've come a long way from there, in large part, because inflation has been so stubborn.

And so, as Jerome Powell opened his prepared remarks, he said inflation is "still too high." And he said, officials need to get greater confidence

that it's going back to that 2 percent goal. And there was a notable change in the statement from Fed officials that they put out. They did say that

there has been "modest further progress" towards that 2 percent goal. That is a change from their prior language where they said there had been a lack

of further progress. But again, they need to see more on that front.

And so, really, there's only four meetings left for the Fed this year. Markets don't think that there's going to be a rate cut at the next meeting

in July. But I was just looking, there's about a two and three chance priced in for a rate cut in September. And that is the final meeting before

the presidential election. And we know that these issues of high cost of living and high borrowing costs, these are big, big things and could end up

being a deciding factor for a lot of voters in the upcoming election. Zain.

ASHER: It's a huge factor. I mean, the economy is going to be front and center. I mean, you touched on the fact that despite the fact that we got

relatively, sort of, modest numbers or improved numbers in terms of CPI, the Fed is looking at this in terms of the bigger picture.

Inflation in this country is still too high. It is extremely stubborn. And as you point out, gosh, what a difference six months make. Just a few

months ago, we were expecting three rate cuts this year. Now, we're down to one. Matt Egan, you've answered all my questions, live for us there. Thank

you so much. Appreciate it.

EGAN: Thanks, Zain.

ASHER: All right. Electric cars may soon be more expensive for drivers in Europe. The European Union is increasing tariffs on electric vehicles

imported from China. Previously, it was The E.U. imposed a flat tariff rate of 10 percent to counter what it sees as artificially low-priced cars. But

the new duties range from 17 percent to as high as 38 percent. China says it's "strongly dissatisfied with this decision." The E.U. must decide by

November whether to make the highest -- the higher tariffs, rather, permanent.

All right. Still to come tonight, UNICEF Global Spokesperson James Elder is going to be joining us in just a moment to talk about the ceasefire talks

between Israel and Hamas. He will also give us more insight about the starvation crisis in Gaza.



ASHER: All right. Let's return now to the ongoing ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas. A deal is on the table, but neither side has

finalized it. fully endorsed it. Hamas wants to amend parts of the U.S.- backed proposal, including a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. An Israeli official describes the amendments as a rejection, but Hamas says it

has neither accepted nor refused the deal.

Meantime, the U.N. has unveiled a damning new report on the first few months of the war in Gaza. The inquiry accuses both Israel and Hamas of

committing war crimes and grave violations of international law. Let's get a closer look at the situation on the ground. UNICEF's global spokesperson

James Elder is joining us live now from Gaza. James, thank you so much for being with us.

Just in terms of what you're seeing on the ground there, I understand that you visited the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital just yesterday. That's taken in

the bulk of the injured, from the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, they've taken in patients after the attack on that U.N. school at the camp, and also after

the raid we saw over the weekend in which four Israeli hostages were rescued, but hundreds -- at least hundreds of Palestinians were killed.

The medical system in Gaza is already on life support. We know that. Just walk us through what you're seeing at the Al Aqsa Hospital more


JAMES ELDER, GLOBAL SPOKESPERSON, UNICEF: Zain, Al Aqsa yesterday was like returning to day one of this war. It was literally walking with physicians

or running with physicians as they sought to treat children, but we're also running over children with the wounds of war, children with bomb blasts to

their head, children with burns, children with shrapnel. Such was the just sheer number of people.

As you rightly point out, there has been a systematic devastation to the health system here. 36 hospitals, not one is fully functioning, not one.

There's a handful that are partially functioning. So, Al Aqsa, where I was, was already overcrowded and heaving before it had 400casualties with those

violent wounds of war over the weekend.

So, we're losing children. Children are dying that shouldn't die, even beyond the bomb, simply because doctors cannot possibly cope among this.

So, returning to that scene, it was a scene of parents screaming, it was a scene of doctors running, and it was a scene of death. We just keep

returning to these same things time and again.


And as I say, this is now 250 days into this. Despite heroic efforts from those doctors, there is a lot of heartache, a lot of parents whose lives

have been irrevocably changed because their children are no longer with us.

ASHER: Yes. And one of the things that really sort of strikes me about the war in Gaza is that it's always become a cliche at this point in time to

say that nowhere in Gaza is safe. We know that. It's become a cliche, but it's a cliche because it's true, nowhere in Gaza is safer at this point in


It wasn't so long ago that we were told that Rafah was safe. And then, there was an operation in Rafah and a lot of people in Rafah went to

Central Gaza. And then we saw what we saw over the weekend at the Nuseirat Refugee Camp in which at least 100 -- obviously, the numbers are disputed

at this point in time, but at least 100 Palestinians were killed. I'm getting alerts on my phone right now, essentially saying that there is

another operation happening right now in Rafah.

So, based on that, just walk us through the level of desperation, right, that even a U.N. school, even a refugee camp is not safe. Where do

Palestinians go at this point in time?

ELDER: They don't know where to go. So, there's so many layers to that question, Zain, that the mental trauma of people now who've moved four or

five times, and tonight, yes, as you say, there's an operation. I don't know if you just heard gunfire now, there's drones. The operation is -- the

limits that we're told are around one mile from where we are here. We don't know any more other than those people have been told to evacuate. We too

have to work out where do we actually -- where do you seek to go.

So, people have learned, sadly, that the safe places get bombed, their homes get bombed, that the schools, as you rightly say, get bombed. Today,

Zain, my mission was around nutrition, which taking a single truck, of approved medical and nutritional supplies to the north. We spent nine hours

at checkpoints. Nine -- it's a pre-approved mission. Nine hours of military checkpoints. The truck with supplies, medicines, and nutrition for 10,000

children was turned back.

While we waited at checkpoint, two fishermen were shot dead on the beach. This is a 13-hour mission to go 35 kilometers. This is the reality of any

normal day in Gaza. I don't know what else happened where we didn't -- weren't able to bear witness to it. But no, to revert to where people go,

they know they don't have anywhere safe. Children now look in their parents' eyes and they know that their parents can no longer protect them.

Parents are also aware of that.

This is a fearful realization for a child and a heartbreaking thing for a parent to also come to understand that they know they can no longer protect

their child.

ASHER: The need in Gaza at this point in time is so great. I mean, it's something that, you know, I will probably, in my lifetime, never truly

understand. Just the extent of the suffering in Gaza happening right now. When you think about the aid that is getting in, how on earth do you even

begin to sort it by need, based on the fact that there is need everywhere, and the need everywhere in Gaza is so great?

ELDER: Yes, it's a great question. A lot of it is around access a lot of day like today. We assess the need and then we were unable, we were

prevented, denied from getting that aid. We'll try again tomorrow in locations. We'll get aid to where we can get it. The people -- there will

be a desperation now, but it may not be as great as somewhere else, but we simply can't reach those people.

So, there are scenes that are even more, you know, heartbreaking than the ones that I'm portraying of people we just simply can't access. And again,

it is this systematic devastation now that we've seen of agriculture, of the fishing industry, of schools, of universities, something like 95

university professors are now reported to have been killed of the economy. This is what Gazans are seeking to live through.

It is, Zain, for me, the first time returning this -- for this particular mission that I do feel that sense of fatalness among people there. They are

terrified of what is around the corner. They know that they've lost control and they hoped, again, on this ceasefire, I have to say. But it does seem

that the decisions that relate to civilians in Gaza and the actions by those in power seem utterly disconnected to the suffering of the people


ASHER: Yes, you have at least 30,000 people, likely much higher than those numbers. Obviously, we don't have a true and accurate count, but by some

estimates, 36,000 people dead in just eight months. You know, you wonder when is the suffering going to end? And a lot of people are hoping and

praying for a ceasefire agreement at this point in time. Right. James Elder live for us there. Thank you so much.

Be right back after this short break. Stay with CNN.



ASHER: All right. Greece is experiencing possibly its earliest summer heat wave ever, forcing one of Europe's most famous landmarks to temporarily

closed. The Acropolis in Athens shut to the public during the day, amid temperatures forecast to exceed 40 degrees Celsius. A blistering heatwave

is sweeping across Greece, the first of the season. Many schools have also closed. Thursday is, get this, expected to be even hotter than that.

All right. The effects of climate change are clearly being felt across the world. Villagers in Nepal who earn money from the daring tradition of

honey-hunting are worried about the number of bees and beehives this season. CNN Meteorologist Elisa Raffa reports on the challenges threatening

this long-standing tradition.


ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): In a remote, hillside village in Nepal, villagers prepare for honey-hunting season, a tradition passed

down for generations.

But over the years, villagers say the number of bees and hives has been declining.

Chandra Singh Gurung is a former honey hunter in the village building ropes and ladders in preparation for the season.

CHANDRA SINGH GURUNG, FORMER HONEY HUNTER (through translator): Honey- hunting begins mid-May every year. And we were happy that we would get some income. But we are all worried now because there are not many beehives this


RAFFA (voice-over): The honey produced is sometimes called mad honey, a bittersweet, dark red honey made when these giant bees feed on rhododendron

nectar. In small doses, it is known for giving people a sense of calmness, euphoria and in some cases, hallucinations.

To get the precious liquid, the hunters use smoke to make the bees flee the hives. They climb cliffs with ladders and use the poles to knock down the

hives. Down below, they filter out the honey. It's a dangerous job but a way to make some money.

AITA PRASAD GURUNG, HONEY HUNTER (through translator): I have to climb down the rope ladder and it is fraught with danger of falling. One must

extract honey and remain safe at the same time. We get some income after selling it.

RAFFA (voice-over): One bee expert says climate change is affecting the production of this honey in multiple ways.

SURENDRA RAJ JOSHI, BEE EXPERT: Too much rain, too little rain, erratic and intense rain, long dry spells. Heat and cold, you know, all these

extreme weather condition, they put the stress on maintaining the hive strength and the honey stock of the colonies.


RAFFA (voice-over): Nepal recorded below-normal precipitation in January and February says the government of Nepal. However, it was above average in

March. The erratic weather changes crop growth that also affects the production of honey says the bee expert. And he says floods and landslides

disturbed the bee habitats causing habitat loss.

Now, villagers say they are worried and don't know what to do as honey hunting is a long-practiced tradition in the village.

Meteorologist Elisa Raffa, CNN.


ASHER: All right. And finally, tonight, Jerry West, one of the most famous players, coaches, and executives in NBA history, has died at the age of 86.

West played for the L.A. Lakers in the 1960s and '70s, becoming a 14-time All Star and reaching the finals nine times. Such was his impact on the

game that West was actually the inspiration for the NBA's logo. As you can see here. West would go on to coach the Lakers and join their front office,

winning several championships as general manager.

All right. Thank you so much for watching tonight. Stay with CNN. I'm Zain Asher. "Newsroom with Jim Sciutto" is up next.