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One World with Zain Asher

Russian Territory Faces a Series of Attacks; Trump Investigation on Classified Documents Handling Continues; House Lawmakers Vote to Raise Debt Ceiling; Presidents of Kosovo and Serbia Blame Each Other on Escalating Regional Tensions. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired June 01, 2023 - 12:00   ET




ZAIN ASHER, CNN HOST: I'm Zain Asher in New York and this is One World. Ukraine's highly anticipated counteroffensive may not be officially

underway, but the momentum already appears to be shifting in Kyiv's favor following a growing series of attacks on Russian territory that has Moscow

on the defensive. The governor of Belgorod says eight people were injured Thursday in quote uninterrupted shelling.

One group of anti-Putin nationalists aligned with the Russian, Ukrainian army rather posted these images claiming they hit military targets across

the border and they're vowing to advance inside Russia soon. CNN cannot verify this video. Another distant group says it's already fighting on

Russian soil but claims they're not harming civilians.

Meantime in Kyiv, three people were killed overnight in Russian missile strikes. Moments ago, Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke at a European summit in

Moldova where he said he received strong support from Western allies. The Ukrainian President again made the case for his country's membership into

NATO and says he asked dozens of European leaders attending the meeting to make a decision on whether to admit Kyiv into the alliance. At a separate

summit, this one in Oslo, the German Foreign Minister said NATO can't accept new members while they are in the middle of a war.

So much to talk about. Let's bring in CNN's Fred Pleitgen, he's joining us live now from Kyiv. Let's talk about these attacks in the border areas of

Moscow including Belgorod, of course. Just walk us through what attempts Russia is making to stave off some of these incursions spread.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russians seem to be saying that they have moved additional forces into that

area. In fact, the Russian general command said earlier at a press conference today that they had thwarted an attempt by, as they put it,

Ukrainian forces. But of course, we know that it's anti-Putin Russian fighters who are saying they were behind all this.

They had thwarted an attempt by those fighters to come across the border and that no one has, they had put it, had violated the border of the

Russian Federation. However, from the Ukrainian side, we're certainly hearing different things. They say, as you've already noted that they took

out a lot of Russian military equipment and later today we heard that a drone also seems to have crashed in the city of Belgorod, as well.

And all of these, Zain, are extremely significant developments because some of these villages that are on the border usually do have a significant

amount of Russian military in them. And of course, as we know, Zain, Belgorod itself is really one of the main staging points for Russia's

invasion of Ukraine in that sector towards the Kharkiv sector. So, certainly, this is something that is very troublesome to the Russians

because they are under pressure in large parts of that border area and of course in the Russian capital, as well. Here's what we're learning.


PLETGEN (voice-over): While the Ukrainians continue to deny being directly involved in the drone attack on Moscow, a senior adviser to Ukraine's

presidency is warning the Russians the war is coming to them.

MYKHAILO PODOLYAK, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: All this will increase in scale. There will be an increase in the number of manifestations of the

war on the territory of the Russian Federation. And Russia is not only feeling the heat around Moscow. The Ukrainians appear to be ramping up the

pressure in the vast border regions between the two countries. Local authorities in the Belgorod area say heavy shelling damaged residential and

official buildings there, wounding several people.

UNKNOWN: It was very scary. Several bursts at once. This has not happened before.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Further south, in the Krasnodar region, the Russians say two oil refineries were targeted by drones. The surveillance camera

video seeming to show an explosion followed by a large fire at one of the facilities. And to the north, authorities in the Bryansk area say they

repelled a massive drone attack, while the Ukrainians believe the Russians are so nervous, they blew up a road in the border region nearby to try and

stop any possible Ukrainian advances. The U.S. says it doesn't condone attacks on Russian territory.

JOHN KIRBY, NSC COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: We have maintained our concerns about attacks on Russian soil, but we have been

nothing but generous and fully committed to making sure that Ukraine can defend itself.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But some of the U.S.' allies are less concerned.


UNKNOWN: Ukraine does have the legitimate right to defend itself, but it does also have the right to project force beyond its borders to undermine

Russia's ability to project force into Ukraine itself.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Those remarks caused major outrage on Kremlin- controlled TV, as Russia's security forces seem unable to prevent cross- border raids.


PLEITGEN (on-camera): And Zain, I think one of the things that you said earlier is absolutely correct. It seems to us on the ground right now as

though momentum is clearly shifting towards the side of the Ukrainians. Right now, it certainly seems as though they have the initiative, not just

there in the Belgorod region, but in general on the battlefield. There's really nowhere right now where Russian forces are advancing.

One of the things, however, that we did hear from the Kremlin today is that Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that none of this is going to derail,

as he put it, Russia's special military operation, which, of course, that is what they call their war in Ukraine. However, he also said that Vladimir

Putin is keeping updated on the situation in Belgorod at all times and hearing everything about what's happening there on the border, Zain.

ASHER: All right, Fred Pleitgen, live for us there. Thank you so much. A CNN exclusive report has some believing Donald Trump could be in even more

serious legal trouble. Multiple sources tell CNN that federal prosecutors have an audio tape that undercuts Trump's defense in his handling of

classified documents after leaving the White House. The recording features Trump talking about classified documents in his possession that detail a

potential attack on Iran. On the tape, Trump admits that he does not have the power to declassify the documents.

CNN's sources say the tape is an important piece of evidence in potential charges against the former president. Here's our Senior Legal Affairs

Correspondent Paula Reid with more.


PAULA REID, SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Federal prosecutors have obtained a recording of Former President Donald Trump

acknowledging he held on to a classified document about a potential attack on Iran after he left the White House, according to multiple sources. The

recording is of a meeting at Trump's Bedminster golf course in July 2021.

Among those in attendance were Trump aides and two people working on an autobiography of Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Meadows

was not in attendance, but at this time, Trump was having aides record conversations with writers and journalists, so he was aware he was being

taped. CNN has not listened to the recording, but multiple sources have described it and say it indicates Trump stood. He retained classified

material after leaving the White House, despite what he has said publicly.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I have no classified documents. And by the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them. If you're

the President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified even by thinking about it.

REID: Sources say he can also be heard acknowledging the limits of his ability to declassify material after leaving office. The remarks appeared

to be in response to this New Yorker article published days before the meeting, claiming that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark

Milley, was concerned Trump might set in motion a full-scale conflict that was not justified with Iran.

Trump appeared to be angered by this report and said he had in his possession a document that showed Milley's plan to attack. CNN is told that

the document was not produced by Milley. His spokesman declined a comment to CNN. It is also unclear if Trump actually showed the document during the

recording. Trump's former national security advisor says he absolutely should not have had that document.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: I have very little faith in Donald Trump's credibility. He could have had a

rolled up carry out menu in his hand waving it around saying it was Iran draft war plan.

REID (voice-over): The recording is a key piece of evidence for Special Counsel Jack Smith. His investigators have questioned witnesses about it,

including General Milley himself. Trump's attorney, Jim Trusty, was asked multiple times whether there was any evidence that Trump had declassified

this document. He would not answer.

JIM TRUSTY, COUNSEL FOR FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The President, under the Presidential Records Act, has unfettered authority to do what he

wants with documents that he's taken from the White House while President. I am not going to sit here and dignify leaks that are incomplete, that are

unfair and that are dishonest. This is a leak campaign.

REID (voice-over): He also would not say how this document wound up in Bedminster.

TRUSTY: I am not going to try the case. It's being set up by leaks that I don't believe are accurate.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: How did -- has the document been returned to the National Archives?

TRUSTY: Same answer.


ASHER: That was CNN's Paula Reid reporting there.


The race to avoid a catastrophic U.S. default is now in the hands of the Senate. Late Wednesday, House lawmakers voted to raise the government debt

ceiling by a comfortable bipartisan margin. Senate leaders want to move ahead with their vote later today, but it's not clear yet if that will

happen. The deadline to pass the bill and get it signed into law is extremely tight, just four days away, actually.

Lauren Fox joins us live now from Capitol Hill. So, it's rare, Lauren, for anything to be resolved quickly in the U.S. Senate. But clearly, this time

there is really no room for delay. They have to move quickly despite the possibility of lengthy debates and, of course, filibusters, as well.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's exactly right. And they're hoping that the momentum that came out of the House of

Representatives with that overwhelming bipartisan bill would be enough to start to stir members to get to yes on some kind of timing agreement to

advance this legislation expeditiously. So, one of the ways that they are looking to do that is leadership is in constant communication with their

respected members, trying to understand what amendments members want votes on so that they can come up with some kind of package to vote on and then

advance this legislation quickly.

We are told from Republican and Democratic leaders that they hope that they could lock this in as soon as today, potentially pushing this vote into

tomorrow. But before the weekend is the hope, again, the key word here is hope. Because any one senator, if they don't agree with moving along with

this process quickly, can delay this, pushing them right up into that Monday deadline. That's why it's so critical that leadership continues to

have these conversations on the Republican and Democratic side to get to a place where all of their members can support this timing agreement so they

can move things along.

ASHER: All right, Lauren Fox, live for us there. Thank you so much. The presidents of Kosovo and Serbia are pointing the finger of blame at each

other when it comes to escalating regional tensions. Serbia's leader is calling for the withdrawal of, quote, alleged mayors in northern Kosovo in

a move, he says, would resolve the recent crisis. Kosovo's leader, meantime, blames Belgrade for activities she says is aimed at destabilizing

her country. It comes days after dozens of NATO peacekeepers were injured by ethnic Serbs during clashes in northern Kosovo.

CNN's Scott McLean is joining us live now. So, Scott, just in terms of what's happening on the ground there today, I understand that the protests

have largely been peaceful, but there's still a lot of concerns, especially among Serbs, over these mayors' legitimacy. In fact, the Serbian leader is

calling for the mayors' removal. Just walk us through that.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, the reason why the legitimacy is being called into question is because ethnic Serbs in these four majority

Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo boycott those elections. And so, you had voter turnout of about 3.4 percent overall.

One of the local mayors was elected with only 141 votes and so that's where things started and that's ethnic Serb protesters tried to block those

mayors from taking their offices. Kosovo police were sent in to forcibly get those mayors into the building so that they could enter and then things

only snowballed from there and the violence that we saw on Monday.

For the moment things are calm. Yesterday, we saw a peaceful protest on the ethnic Serb side of northern Kosovo. Today, we saw protests, as you can see

there, on the ethnically Albanian side of northern Kosovo. Those municipalities are now being divided by NATO peacekeepers to try to keep

things calm.

Now, the United States is undoubtedly one of Kosovo's most important backers, and it has called for the Kosovo Prime Minister to take steps to

de-escalate the situation. Specifically, it wants those mayors to work from alternate locations, not the town halls, and it wants the police to be

withdrawn from the town halls -- the Kosovo police to be withdrawn.

The U.S. has already sanctioned Kosovo, canceling their participation in military drills taking place right now in Romania and it's threatening to

go further. But today, the Kosovo Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, made clear that he has no plans to take the U.S. advice and those mayors will work

from their offices. Listen.


ALBIN KURTI, KOSOVO PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Mayors should go and work in their offices. There is no need for parallelism. We need to

have normality, to have a republic for democracy and for a municipality that will serve its citizens. What is the meaning of having public

buildings for state officials if they are not used?


MCLEAN: Now, Albin Kurti, the prime minister there, also said that he will withdraw police from those municipal buildings only when the protesters, he

calls them criminal gangs, either go back to Serbia or go to jail. Again, the assumption is that most of these people are ethnic Serbs who are also

citizens of Kosovo.


Now, the Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, he accused Kurti of painting all of the protesters with the same brush, many of whom were ordinary

citizens trying to go about their daily lives. He says that he has no direct control over these protesters, though he has called for calm. He's

asking for two things. One, as you said, for those mayors to be withdrawn, and two, for Kosovo to actually live up to its agreements under the

Brussels agreement, which would give these majority Serb areas some level of self-autonomy. So, essentially, the ball is in their court. And Vucic

says that, look, the Kosovars also have to do their bit. Listen.


ALEKSANDAR VUCIC, SERBIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will try and do our best for things to return to normal, for the situation to de-

escalate. But whatever that will happen or not, it takes two to tango, and it's not just up to us.


MCLEAN: So, Vucic called the Kosovo side stubborn and irresponsible. He also said that he had planned to hold meetings with the presidents of

Germany and France to discuss the ongoing situation there, Zain.

ASHER: All right, Scott, okay, life for us there. Thank you so much. Senegal opposition leader is heading to prison. Ousmane Sonko has been

given a two-year sentence for corrupting a youth. The court cleared him Thursday of several other charges including rape. Sonko says the charges

are politically motivated and he refused to take part in the trial. He was planning to run for president in 2024 but the conviction makes him


All right, still to come here, snaking queues at gas stations across Nigeria as motorists rush to fill up their tanks. What is fueling the

looming prices? We'll have a live report for you from Lagos and later, our planet is drowning in plastics. We'll bring you the latest on crucial

negotiations to save us from our own garbage.


ASHER: Nigeria's largest trade union says the new president has brought tears and sorrow to millions of Nigerians instead of hope. This, after fuel

prices soared across the country because of the government abruptly ending the oil subsidy. The new president, Bola Tinubu, called the subsidy

unsustainable in his inaugural speech.




Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing cost and the wake of dry resources.


ASHER: Long lines started forming at gas stations after Mr. Tinubu's speech as Nigerians tried to stock up on petrol. The trade union calls it an

insensitive and ill-timed decision. Previous governments have also tried to remove the fuel subsidy in Africa's largest oil producing country with no


CNN's Senior Africa Editor Stephanie Busari joins us live now from Lagos. So, Stephanie, the fact is Nigerians have been insulated from paying the

true price of fuel for a long time and many suspected that this day would come just given the sort of situation with the economy there in Nigeria and

the plight of the government's revenues right now. But just walk us through what sort of havoc this is wreaking just in terms of people rushing to

stock up on fuel and also price hikes across the country already.

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN SENIOR AFRICA EDITOR: So, Zain, many acknowledge that the fuel subsidy is no longer sustainable. It costs the government billions

of dollars every year. And the cost of it is actually more than the healthcare and education budget combined.

So, many understand that it has to go but previous governments have tried and failed. You'll remember the Occupy Nigeria movement -- protest in 2012

when Goodluck Jonathan tried to remove the subsidies and that caused widespread protests across the country. It has to be done and managed in an

effective way. It has to be phased out. That's what people are saying. You can't abruptly say it's gone.

And this appears to have been an off the cuff, adlibbed moment from the president in his inaugural speech. We read the speech that he was supposed

to present, and that phrase was not in that speech. So, his words had a severe and immediate ripple effect, Zain, and people suddenly stormed

petrol stations, tried to stock up because they knew prices would go up.

And then some petrol stations just stopped selling altogether because they wanted to maximize their profit. So -- and now, the state petroleum --

owned -- company, an NPC says that it has raised its prices, released a statement, but we don't even know the price that is because it appears to

be different across the country.

Now, this comes just after months after Nigerians were queuing Zain. You remember, to get their hands on their own cash and now across the country

there's queues everywhere people waiting in long lines for several hours just to buy petrol in an oil-producing country and many Nigerians feel that

they have such little perks from being in an oil producing country that a subsidy is one thing that they really could count on.

And now that it's gone, or as the president said it will be going by the end of this month, but the prices appear to have spiked anyway ahead of

that. So, you know the hardship on Nigerians is just untold and it just seems relentless just coming so soon after the fuel crisis -- some -- the

cash crisis, as well.

ASHER: And Stephanie, I understand that you've been speaking to people as well in terms of what they're saying. Walk us through what they're saying,


BUSARI: Sorry, Zain, can you repeat that?

ASHER: And we've actually been hearing from many Nigerians across the country in terms of their reaction. Let's roll it.


CHIMMA KALU, NIGERIAN BANKER: If we were given time before they fully remove the subsidy, it would have helped us in a way because I believe the

government is heading towards the right direction. The only difference is the manner in which they told us the subsidy was removed.

CHRISTOPHER DAWET, NIGERIAN BANKER: Subsidy removal is a good thing. Anyway, assuming our leaders are being proactive in everything. What I mean

by proactive, setting things in place, you understand, that will ease this suffering.

VICTORIA AKPAN, NIGERIAN SINGLE PARENT: It's affecting me personally because I'm a single parent, I'm a widow, have three kids, and they're all

in the university. So, I'm just wondering how am I going to cope with three kids? All in the university, I pay rent, I take care of their upkeep, I pay

their school fees. I need to fuel my car, I need to buy fuel in my generator, there's no light. So, I don't really understand what the

government is up to. They don't think about the poor masses at all.


ASHER: That just gives you a taste of what ordinary Nigerians are going through. Stephanie Busari, live for us there, thank you so much. For more

on this, let's bring in Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani, she's an energy and infrastructure specialist. She joins us live now from Lagos.


Rolake, thank you so much for being with us. I mean, it is incredible, the fact that you have people queuing for hours to buy fuel in an oil-producing

country. I mean, there is obvious irony there. Just walk us through the wide-reaching economic consequences of this, the fact that fuel prices are

set to triple because obviously the price of fuel affects the price of everything, goods, food, services, transport, everything. How will

Nigerians cope with this?

ROLAKE AKINKUGBE-FILANI, ENERGY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SPECIALIST: Yeah, thanks. Great to be on the show again, Zain. The first economic context I

wanted to set is that Nigeria's fiscal black hole from a macro-economic perspective would have seen it spend 14 billion -- 14 -- one, four, billion

dollars on subsidies this year.

The previous government had budgeted for a half year subsidy, which is about $7 billion. But it actually didn't fund that fiscal requirement. So,

NNPC has actually been -- that's the state oil company -- have been dipping it into its own accounts to fund this. So, clearly we can all agree it is

an unsustainable way to go with a country that also has a huge debt burden of well over $100 billion at the end of last year.

What we do know is that the World Bank did provide an $800 million loan for palliatives to ease the socio-economic effect on the population. But that

loan was signed by an administration that is no longer on seat, and it remains to be seen what provision this current administration would make to

ease the pains.

It is a reality, they're long field cues. The hardship is clearly felt across the board but Nigeria had also been in the fiscal black hole that

really, there is -- there was no other way to go. Now, there's a question around the timing of this announcement given that we still had about a

month to go. And the government is dialoguing with the unions.

The current president, Tinubu, had said that a hallmark of his administration would be consensus and dialogue. It remains to be seen what

the outcome of that will be and whether the government will draw down on a World Bank loan, which it didn't actually negotiate to cushion the effects.

And I understand there's meant to be cash transfers to about 50 million Nigerians across 10 million households from that loan. But we just have no

idea how the government will manage that process.

ASHER: I mean, it's interesting because Goodluck Jonathan tried the same thing. There were protests in the streets then he had to sort of rescind

it. What's going to be the likely reaction? We just heard from one woman basically saying, look, I'm a widow. I'm a single mother. I've got three

children. They're all in university. I have to pay their school fees. I don't know how I'm going to manage if fuel prices triple. What is the

solution here? Should the government have phased it in? That's what our Stephanie Busari was talking about, that there should have been some kind

of way to cushion the blow of this. And what sort of reaction are we going to to see, do you think?

FILANI: I think there could have been some way to cushion the blow. I'm not sure there would have been some way to phase it because phasing subsidies

means you still have a subsidy. So, you have to keep funding that fiscal black hole.

I think what the government will seek to do is to introduce some sort of social palliative in the short term. Whether that will happen quick enough

for people remains to be seen. The unions appear willing to dialogue again. They came out of earlier meetings without any clear path forward.

But what I think will also happen in the long term is that over time, prices will adjust as the markets become more competitive. It's also worth

bearing in mind that it's mostly cars that use petrol. The majority of public transportation, as well as the bigger trucks that transport goods

and services, use diesel or AGO, which is already a deregulated market.

So, the issue about who benefits most for subsidies, it's always been felt that it's the middle class and the more rich-elite, the well-to-do elite.

So, I think we should all be patient. There is clearly economic hardship, but this government has also inherited a problem that had started long

before it came into office. And Nigeria is just struggling to manage that. The NNP, so the state-owned oil company, is also clearly struggling in

terms of revenues that have dipped from crude oil exports. We haven't been able to take advantage of higher crude oil prices due to the production

challenges we face. So, there's no clear easy path going forward. I think there will be some consideration around the hardship element for the


ASHER: Yeah.

FILANI: But the truth is the subsidy is just no longer sustainable for Nigeria.

ASHER: Yeah, of course. I mean, we all, I think we all can agree that it wasn't sustainable. I mean, 96 percent of Nigeria's revenue goes towards

servicing its debt. So, there does need to be some sort of change here. I think a lot of people were caught off guard by this, though. Rolake, thank

you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

All right, still to come here on One World. Set a fire, pay up. We'll tell you about the huge fines being imposed in the fire ravage in Nova Scotia.

And that's next.




ASHER: Hello and welcome back to One World. Let's catch up on the headlines. The U.S. says it will impose fresh sanctions and visa

restrictions against people perpetuating violence across Sudan. The move comes after a reported heavy shelling incident in Khartoum, leaving at

least 17 people dead on Wednesday despite a ceasefire agreement.

A human rights group is suing Ethiopian airlines for allegedly blocking some ethnic Tigrayans from travel. The lawsuit accuses the state-owned

airline of violating the country's constitution by prohibiting some passengers from flying from the Tigray region to the country's capital. The

airline denies the allegations. A hearing on the case is expected this month.

In Canada, officials have raised the fine to more than $18,000 for anyone caught violating a burn ban in Nova Scotia. The move comes as wildfires

rage across the province, destroying hundreds of buildings and other objects in its wake. The fires have also prompted air quality alerts in the

northeastern United States including New York and New Jersey.

CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is closely monitoring these wildfires. Allison, today is going to be an -- especially difficult day just given the


ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and that is very good news for this region which yes they

do get fires in this region but what we're noticing is how quickly early into the year we're seeing these fires spread. Total wildfires up to this

point, 199.

Now, normally up to this point year to date, we would only have about 140. That's the 10-year average. Now, in terms of how much area has burned,

we're looking at it well just over 18,000 hectares up to this point. But at the same time, when we talk about the year to date 10-year average, it's

only about 650 hectares. So again, you're talking a tremendously larger amount than what we're normally used to this time of year. The heat is not

helping, not only in terms of spreading the fires, but for the firefighters themselves.


It makes those conditions very difficult for them to be out in prolonged periods of times. In Halifax, temperature still today, expected to be in

the low 30s. We will finally start to see those temperatures dropping back off as we head into the weekend. And for that very reason, it's because we

have rain on the way. So, if you are a Haligonian or anyone else from Nova Scotia, again, this cold front is very welcome news not only to cool those

temperatures down but look at all of that rain that will likely help mitigate a lot of those fires, not only by preventing them from spreading,

but hopefully putting them out entirely.

We're talking of pretty tremendous amount of rain. Widespread totals likely 50 to 100 millimeters but there could even be some spots to pick up 125,

maybe even as much as 150 millimeters total in the next few days.

One other concern is all of that smoke making its way southward, yes, into the states. You're talking areas of New York, New Jersey, Maryland,

Delaware, even Pennsylvania, getting some of the smoke from those wildfires. That, too, will also clear back out, once the cold front is able

to make its way down.

Right now, some of the worst areas, especially in terms of the air quality, several orange dots here indicating poor air quality for sensitive groups,

also, some unhealthy and very unhealthy. Most of that is focused right around New Jersey, Pennsylvania, areas of Maryland and Delaware. But again,

we are hoping that in the next couple of days, as that cold front moves through, we can take not only the smoke out of the air, but also turn out

to -- take out much of the wildfires in the region, as well.

ASHER: All right, Allison Chinchar, live for us there. Thank you so much. Our planet has a serious plastics problem. We are producing twice as much

plastic waste as we were two decades ago, and plastic production is forecast to triple by 2060. This week in Paris, representatives from 175

nations have gathered to try to hammer out a global agreement to curb plastic usage before it is too late.


INGER ANDERSEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, U.N. ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME: We gathered here in Paris because the linear plastic economy is gushing pollution

galore, choking our ecosystems, warming the climate, damaging our health. People in the poorest nations and communities, they suffer the most.

Current commitments will only reduce plastic pollution by eight percent by 2040, so the tap is still wide-open. And this agreement could be, must be,

shall be the tool that the world uses to close that tap.

ASHER: But the first few days of the conference have produced little progress as countries that produce and use the most plastics, like for

example Saudi Arabia, China and India, have bogged the proceedings down with the procedural debates. Time now for the exchange. And joining me live

now is someone who has been at the Paris conference all week. Dr. Tadesa Emmera is the Co-Chair of the International Pollutants Elimination Network.

He represents more than 500 public interest organizations who are working to build a toxic future for the world. Dr. Amira, thank you so much for

being with us.

One of the things that I find interesting is that you've talked about this idea that recycling is really not the main solution here. It really should

be about countries looking at the entire sort of life cycle management for plastics, that is looking at plastics production and consumption and

identifying the hot spots through production and looking at impacts on the environment, impacts on health, impacts on the economy. Just walk us

through how much that approach would be a game changer for reducing the health and climate effects when it comes to plastics pollution.

TADESSEE AMERA, CO-CHAIR, INTERNATIONAL POLLUTANTS ELIMINATION NETWORK: Thank you very much. This is a very important question because we are

trying to show the governments and parties which are gathered here in Paris that this is not a waste management agreement. This is a health and

chemicals agreement because plastics are made from carbon and chemicals. They are derivatives of fossil fuel. So, in order to handle this, it should

be seen from the health perspective, from human health and environmental perspective, and this is well reflected in the discussions. And the

governments also take this seriously, and we are discussing on this issue in different groups here in Paris.

ASHER: When you think about Africa's sort of unique challenge in all of this, obviously Africa is not a major producer of plastic, but it does reap

the harm of some of the excessive plastics waste in other industrialized countries. Walk us through how you think what is being decided now in

Europe is going to impact the coastline for much of the continent -- just have concrete effects on, you know, the amount of plastics in the waters

surrounding the continent.


How do you expect what's happening in Europe right now, this conference, will impact the continent going forward?

AMERA: Yes, Africa is not a major producer, but this thing is coming to Africa, and not only waters, but even terrestrial bodies and everywhere you

get plastics, and they are not degradable, they are staying in the soil and in the environment for hundreds of years. So, this is about control. This

is about controlling the production and closing the tap from the source, from the production side.

If we divert this into recycling, it's about waste management without handling the source. The source always is the main problem. So, it's about

control. If the source is controlled, if problematic plastics that are creating human health and environmental impacts are controlled, Africa will

be saved because, as you said, Africa is not a major producer, but the impact is in Africa with no mechanism of handling even the already legacy

waste that we have. And the source will be handled, and in the future that legacy problem will be handled in a way if the source is very well managed.

That's about the treaty.

ASHER: There are -- Dr. Amera, there are major challenges here. When you think about just the economic angle for all of this, about 20 petrochemical

companies control about half -- half of the plastics that are produced across the world. And many of these companies, especially in the United

States, have a huge amount of lobbying power. Of course, there's economic interest at play. So, you guys are up against quite a bit here. Just

explain to our audience what you are up against.

AMERA: We are not against the economic interest. We are against the toxic part. We are against the human health impacts and the environmental


ASHER: Right, but given the economic -- Dr. Amera, given the economic interest for many companies, many petrochemical companies that produce

plastics, just explain to us how difficult it is going to be to get some of these measures that you're interested in past.

AMERA: Yeah, this is about the handling, the diversion of the design as a whole life cycle approach. If the whole life cycle approach is seen in a

different economic model, that's not really an impact to the industry. The problem is its effects, it's not only the economy that's gained is also

expanded in some ways, or it's a burden to the public, and it's a burden to countries, especially developing countries. The gain is somewhere, and the

expense is somewhere. So, this should be balanced.

What does economics mean? Is it economics to one part, as you say, to the 20, for example, multinational companies, or to the world? That is the

question. So, the economic interests should be balanced with the health aspect and also with the non-monetized impacts that are created in the

environment and in human health worldwide.

ASHER: It should be. Just walk us through, though, how, whether or not you really expect countries to find a common ground, especially given the

various competing interests, not just on an economic level with corporations, but even just on a national level, too.

AMERA: Yeah, there is -- there will be an agreement that we hope. We are really expecting to have an agreement because everybody now understands,

every government, every party understands the stake. That's why we are discussing intensely, starting from early in the morning to after midnight,

we are discussing because this is a serious issue, and everyone understands that this is serious and the stake is high. And because of that, we are

going line by line in every agreement, because this is a mutual interest.

The health impact is not to one part of the society or the other part of the society. It is affecting globally. And this should be handled by a

global treaty. When the global treaty is handled, that will be nationalized to every nation so that every nation can internalize it and regulate it.


In that way, it's not the first treaty. There are lots of treaties on other chemical issues. So, this is not the first test for the parties.

ASHER: All right, Dr. Amera, live for us there. Thank you so much. All right, a Muslim minority in China defiantly defend their mosque from

partial demolition by the government. Coming up, why many fear a harsh crackdown is imminent.


ASHER: Fears are growing of another religious crackdown in southern China. A Muslim minority has been defying government attempts to demolish the dome

and Minaret's Ovec Mosque. They say that they are the latest victims of Beijing's campaign to remove religious symbols from places of worship.

CNN's Ivan Watson has more.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A rare confrontation between law enforcement and the faithful. Chinese Muslims clash with police outside

a mosque in southwestern China. For two days last weekend, residents of the village of Najiaying tried to protect their mosque from a Chinese

government reconstruction plan.

They want to demolish the roof of our mosque, an emotional local protester tells CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity. This is our last bit of

dignity, the protestor says. It's like someone going to your house and demolishing it. CNN reached out to Chinese authorities for comment, but the

only official acknowledgement of the incident comes from this local government statement urging protesters to turn themselves in after

disrupting social order and causing severe adverse impact.

WATSON: Is it safe to be a Muslim in China today?


WATSON (voice-over): Ma Ju is an Imam and activist from the Hui Muslim ethnic minority living in exile in the U.S.

MA JU (through translator): No Muslim is safe in China. My people, the Hui people, everyone is trembling, scared and living in fear.

WATSON (voice-over): He claims the Chinese government has targeted hundreds of Hui mosques across the country, demolishing their Arabic-inspired domes

and minarets and replacing them with Chinese-styled architecture. CNN has independently verified the before and after images of several of these



Part of Chinese leader Xi Jinping's policy of sinicization, instructing religions to basically look more Chinese.

JAMES LEIBOLD, PROFESSOR OF CHINA STUDIES, LA TROBE UNIVERSITY: The logic of what China is trying to do is about social re-engineering. It's by

remolding people.

WATSON (voice-over): Academics and activists say since Xi came to power, there have been crackdowns on expressions of religious, ethnic and

linguistic identity.

MA JU: Xi Jinping's policies are aimed at all socially organized groups, including Christians, Buddhists and even some civil organizations,

including LGBTQ.

WATSON (voice-over): CNN extensively reported on the detention of more than a million ethnic Uyghurs and other minorities in China's Xinjiang region in

internment camps. And CNN reported on clashes around churches in eastern China where authorities chopped the crosses off the top of Christian places

of worship. Those scenes in 2015 remarkably similar to the images of protesters trying to protect their mosque today in Najiaying.

Today, they'll change our mosque. Tomorrow, they'll ban us from going to mosques, the local protester tells CNN. A last-ditch effort to protect

deeply personal concepts of faith and identity from being defined by the Chinese state. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


ASHER: All right, still to come here on One World, an amazing rescue from the world's rooftop. The heroic story from Mount Everest when we come back.


ASHER: Now, to a remarkable story of survival and the human spirit. A Malaysian climber on Mount Everest is alive. Thanks to a Nepali Sherpa

guide. The guide was helping a Chinese client to the Everest summit when he saw the other climber clinging onto a rope in an area known as the Death

Zone. The guide then hauled the Malaysian climber down hundreds of meters over a period of six hours to an altitude where rescue helicopters could

reach him. Rescue said the altitudes on Mount Everest are extremely rare. So far, this year, at least 12 people have died trying to climb Mount


In Canada, health warnings will appear not just on cigarette packages, but actually on each and every individual cigarette.


That makes it the first country to do so in the world. Tobacco smoke harms children. Cigarettes cause leukemia. Poison in every puff. Those are just a

few of the messages that will soon appear in English and French on individual cigarettes. The new regulation is part of the government's goal

to reduce nationwide tobacco use to less than 5 percent by 2035. The new rules go into effect August 1st but will be phased in over the next two


And Jordan is in the grips of royal wedding fever. The country's 28-year- old crown prince, who's all smiles here, as you see, just married his Saudi architect bride just a couple of hours ago. The ceremony at Zahran Palace

in the capital Amman is where the prince's parents, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania were also married. These are pictures of them arriving there


This is a big day for the Hashemite Kingdom, a key Western ally. There's no shortage of high-profile guests, including U.S. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

British royalty is also present, as well. The prince and princess of Wales making a surprise trip for the big event.

All right. Thank you so much for watching One World. I'm Zain Asher. Amanpour is up next. You're watching CNN.