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Hala Gorani Tonight

U.S. and U.K. to Help Australia Acquire Nuclear-Powered Submarines; France Blasts U.S., U.K, and Australia Submarine Deal As a "Stab in the Back"; Italy Mandates COVID-19 Green Passes for All Workers; U.S. Has No Clear Answer on Need for Vaccine Booster. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 16, 2021 - 14:00:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. The U.S. and U.K. join forces with

Australia and pledge to help that nation get nuclear-powered submarines. I'll ask the French ambassador to the United States why France is very

angry over that deal. Plus, Taliban officials try to quell rumors of infighting within the presidential palace. We're live in Kabul for the very


And confusion over booster shots days after England announced it was motoring ahead with third vaccine doses. The White House and Centers for

Disease Control are sending very mixed signals. So do we need boosters? We'll explore that question. So some big geopolitical news. The U.S., U.K.

and Australia have announced a new security pact that is meant to contain China. But it could actually damage those countries' relations with France

and other EU nations and make ties with Beijing even worse than they already are.

U.S. President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed this new partnership called

AUKUS, Wednesday. It will help Australia get nuclear-powered submarines. Now, it's important to note they won't be carrying nuclear weapons, but

they will be a strong deterrent power. The U.S. is trying to push back against China as tensions grow over Taiwan and the South China Sea. Listen

to Mr. Biden.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is about investing in our greatest source of strength. Our alliances. And updating them to better

meet the threats of today and tomorrow. It's about connecting America's existing allies and partners in new ways and amplifying our ability to

collaborate, recognizing there is no regional divide separating the interests of our Atlantic and Pacific partners.


GORANI: Let's bring in Nina dos Santos in London, Stephen Collinson is in Washington. So, Joe Biden is really leapfrogging over the EU. France is

absolutely incensed. They had a submarine deal with Australia that Australia is now ripping up. Why is Biden doing this, and why now?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Hala, I think that the president didn't set out to anger the French, but this will further --

impressions in Europe -- the president of the United States, the new president of the United States is fixated on policy towards China to

containing China's aggressive maritime and territorial moves in the South China Sea. And anything that gets in the way of that is just a casualty. I

think you can understand the French fury. It looks very much like the United States has deserted its oldest ally to side with its Anglo-Saxon


And I think this is a clear case of Britain and Australia and the United States having such compelling political and geopolitical reasons to go into

this alliance for their own reasons and for the larger strategic one that it's not surprising the French got trampled. But I think, on the heels of

the Afghan withdrawal, when again the president appeared to not take into account the feelings and you know, requirements of America's European

allies. This will further cement the impression that the president is looking away from Europe and towards Asia.

GORANI: All right. And Nina, let's talk about the U.K. Australia, obviously has chosen to go with a more advanced submarine with more advanced

submarine technology and the U.K. joining this trio is not a surprise. It already benefits from the technology from the U.S.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Boris Johnson; the Prime Minister spoke to MPs in the House of Commons earlier today and was keen to

stress that very point, Hala, that essentially, this is a very elite group of countries that have access to this U.S. nuclear-powered technology that

will propel these submarines and make them a lot more nimble in a part of the world where, obviously, China is becoming more and more aggressive and

investing very heavily in its Naval fleet and deploying its Naval fleet as well. Well, speaking of Naval fleets, the U.K. has also been sending

warships to this part of the world including an aircraft carrier recently.

So, for many people in the defense sector, this was not really a surprise. What was a surprise, as you pointed out there, was how some of these allies

were treated and of course, the economic fallout for France which will have to be left with a bill of $65 billion because the submarines that Australia

had on order from it, since 2016, were diesel-powered and not deemed to be quite as advanced as this new type of submarine.


But it's not just submarines. This deal will develop over the course of 18 months, it also includes other things like cyber security, artificial

intelligence and also more sophisticated long-range technology, just to mention just some of the things that will be negotiated between these three

parties. It's a very significant move, this, and also, I should point out, France is not the only ally, particularly of the five eyes intelligence-

sharing countries which also includes New Zealand and Canada that is been taken aback by this. Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand said that she wasn't

consulted about this, and indeed, has said that those Australian nuclear- powered submarines will not be entering her waters. That would be illegal, she says.

GORANI: Nina dos Santos, thanks very much, Stephen Collinson in Washington, thanks to you. Officials insist this deal is not specifically about

containing China, but that's not keeping that country from lashing out. China's foreign minister says this will undermine peace and stability in

the region. In Beijing, Steven Jiang sent us this report.


STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: The Chinese reaction has been swift and the response from Beijing not surprising with the Chinese foreign

ministry official on Thursday saying that this deal is going to severely undermine regional peace and stability. The international efforts on

nuclear non-proliferation and also intensifying a regional arms race. Now, this kind of strong words actually pales in comparison to what we have seen

in some Chinese-state media outlets. In a scathing editorial published on Thursday, the "Global Times" newspaper called Australia a running dog of

the U.S. and warning Australia of deadly consequences if it ever gets involved militarily with China.

It went on to say that Australian troops are likely to become the first western casualties in the South China Sea if the Canberra government

continues down its current path of China policies. And it also said that Australian military installations are certainly going to be targeted by

Chinese missiles if Australian troops fight the People's Liberation Army in any part of the region. So, this kind of language obviously very

belligerent and also very explicit warnings. But this in a way, ironically, proves Australia's point that why it's urgently need to upgrade its

military capability to deal with an increasingly assertive and some would say aggressive China trying to dominate this region.

Now, another point worth noting, of course, the submarines are nuclear- powered, not nuclear-armed, but that distinction seems to make little difference in the eyes of the Beijing leadership. What state media here

saying that these subs by design are supposed to be strategic striking tools and they are capable of traveling farther in deeper waters, thus,

posing a threat to the PLA, and that's why China will have to respond with counter measures. So underneath all these Chinese government jargons and

the very harsh rhetoric from the Chinese state media, a real concern is being shared by many experts that is this pact, this alliance really marks

a milestone in a regional arms race right here in Asia. Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing.


GORANI: And as my colleague Nina mentioned a few minutes ago, France has 65 billion reasons to be furious at being left out of the pact. That was the

dollar value of an agreement it had with Australia to provide diesel- powered submarines. And with that agreement now scrapped, France says it feels betrayed. Listen to the French foreign minister.


JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, FOREIGN MINISTER, FRANCE (through translator): It is really, to put it plainly, a stab in the back. We have built a relationship

of trust with Australia. This trust has been betrayed. And today, I am angry with plenty of bitterness regarding this break. This is not done

between allies.


GORANI: Well, I'm joined now by the French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Etienne. He's live in Washington. Ambassador, thanks for being

with us. First of all, Jean-Yves Le Drian; the foreign minister saying this is a stab in the back. You had -- France had a contract with Australia to

build and deliver Barracuda, diesel-powered Barracuda submarines. It seems as though Australia has ripped that up and gone with acquiring nuclear-

powered submarine technology from the United States. Where does that leave your country?

PHILIPPE ETIENNE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you, Hala, for having me. First, the contract was not only France-Australia, but

also U.S. with Lockheed Martin. But it is not really fundamentally a question of commercial contract. Indeed, we have a strong reaction, but we

have a strong reaction because we consider and President Biden said it, too, that we are a key ally also in the Indo-Pacific, not only globally. We

are an Indo-Pacific country. We have territories, and our president was the first European leader to present an Indo-Pacific strategy.

I was with him, actually, I remember. It was back in 2018, and, guess what? It was in Australia on the Navy -- Australian Navy vessel off Garden



And now, the European Union itself comes to the Indo-Pacific region with its own strategy. A draft was published yesterday, I think, with the same

aim. We have the same goal, thus with our allies, which is to have a prevailing rules-based order and we want free circulation, we want

democratic values. So, we were indeed very much upset by the fact that we learned that this new contract -- first, we were upset because Australia,

as you said, Hala, has terminated this contract where we had all invested so much effort and also because we were completely -- we were not informed

until the -- we've seen the first news yesterday morning in Australia and also in the U.S.

GORANI: So, let me just get this straight. France, which had a contract to deliver a Barracuda submarines to Australia was informed of the fact that

Australia tore up that deal and went with a pact with the U.S. and the U.K. in the news? You were not given advance warning by your counterparts in

Australia of this?

ETIENNE: Not about the new project. For instance --

GORANI: Right --

ETIENNE: The different elements with the partners and the project. We had discussions with Australia. There is -- there was -- there has been on a

debate in Australia. We're aware of that. We had a lot of discussions with Australia. And we also came a lot of times to see our U.S. American

friends, and tell them, look, it's really important and don't forget it's not only bilateral. It's a trilateral issue and it's the base of fundament

of our strategic partnership with Australia which is itself an essential part of our Indo-Pacific strategy.

GORANI: Yes --

ETIENNE: So, we had our discussions with Australia and we had them actually until very recently, I think -- I am not in Australia, but still, very

recently, we were discussing with Australia. So the first -- of course, disappointment is with the Australian decision. But we know -- we

understand now that there have been -- there has been discussions going also with the United States and the United Kingdom.

GORANI: Right. I mean, the Australian press are writing articles, saying this shouldn't have come as a surprise to France. As early as June, the

defense secretary then refused to sign a contract for the next phase of the deal. The project was grossly over-budgeted. It was meant to be 31 billion

euros in 2016. That almost doubled. There was a cyber hack in 2016 that worried the Australians of the company in charge of building these

submarines. So, this was not smooth-sailing.

It's kind of a relationship that had some rocky moments and that, when it ended, couldn't have come as a huge surprise. Was it?

ETIENNE: Yes, it was a surprise because we heard it also yesterday morning, it was not a surprise that there was a discussion. We were ready to have

further discussions, and what was also a surprise was that all the allies, very close allies, were so much involved. You know France has also a

nuclear-powered submarine technology --

GORANI: Sure --

ETIENNE: We could -- we could also have taken part with a lot of discussions, and again, what you say about this contract, which was not

only with the French company, but also with a U.S. company, this contract was being implemented very seriously by the French company. Even the

Australian government has recognized it. But more importantly --

GORANI: But ultimately -- well, ultimately --

ETIENNE: Again, Hala, it's really very much about the strategic -- the strategic issue here.

GORANI: That's my next question, actually. Does France feel disrespected, left out, your own foreign minister said stabbed in the back. That you were

given no forward notice, that the European Union essentially has been left out in the cold because this is an Anglo-Saxon access here. And you're not

part of it. Is that one of the biggest issues here?

ETIENNE: I don't think the issue is who is Anglo-Saxon, who is not Anglo- Saxon. The biggest issue is to know whether we want to have a consistent action. We -- democracies -- Europeans and Americans in particular in the

Indo-Pacific region. I understand this is the expectation of the United States. And we have assets in this region. We have sent military -- high

quality military assets for short-term missions. We take it very seriously. And the European Union is, as such, is now also willing to engage.


So, the question is whether we should not be more in such decisions, once these decisions are taken. Why is it so? And in the case of France in

particular, because I repeat, it was not only a commercial contract. It was not only a contract between three -- two companies, American and French,

and the government. It was also substantial part, an essential part of our overall Indo-Pacific strategy.

GORANI: But everything you're saying, I mean, the message it seems that you're sending is that, you were -- you were betrayed here in this. You

were given no advance warning. You learned in the press that this deal was being signed and this pact was being formed, and that you want to be part

of the strategic alliances in that part of the world, but you were left out. Is that a fair assessment of your position?

ETIENNE: Well, yes, I think so. We want to be part of the Indo-Pacific strategies. We will not do exactly the same as others, but we have

developed this, and actually, we have exchanged a lot with our allies on this. We now -- we have the whole of the European Union coming to. So we

expect, of course, more -- well, yes, another --

GORANI: Do you --

ETIENNE: Type of transparency up in this, of course.

GORANI: Very -- I mean, lastly, I just want to ask you, any conversations with the Americans? Could this pact expand to include France at all?

ETIENNE: Well, I didn't get your question, Hala. Did we speak with our American friends on this?


ETIENNE: Well, the -- when we heard about the news in the Australian and the American press, I think it was yesterday morning -- was it political?

Of course, we asked for information and we had the -- some meetings with some American counterparts yesterday, of course, and they accepted. We --

but again, we -- it was a very late.

GORANI: All right. Well, Ambassador Philippe Etienne joining us live from Washington, we really appreciate you taking the time this evening to talk

to us from the U.S. --

ETIENNE: Thank you. Thank you --

GORANI: Capital --

ETIENNE: Thank you, Hala. Thank you.

GORANI: Let's get more now from my CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger. He's also a Pulitzer prize-winning correspondent for

the "New York Times". You heard there from the French ambassador to the United States. They were not given a heads-up that this was happening, and

they are angry. I mean, their foreign minister essentially said this is more -- paraphrasing him, this is the kind of behavior you would have

expected from Donald Trump, he even said. Why do you think the Biden administration is taking this approach?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, the great irony here, and I understand his anger and of course, the ambassador

has been a long-time ambassador in the U.S. and elsewhere. So, he knows about this. This was extraordinarily poor alliance management by virtue of

how the -- you know, how the French say that they learned about it. Even if you think it was the strategically right decision to make for the United

States, they clearly needed to manage the French better.

I think their fear was that it would all leak out as soon as they gave the French the details and they're probably right that it would have. But what

this has done I think is two-fold. One is, it's improved the American position in the Indo-Pacific at the expense of some of our alliance

relationship in Europe.

GORANI: Right.

SANGER: Of course, when President Biden came back in, he said he was going to nurture those old alliances.

GORANI: But we know -- I mean, we heard at the G7 in Cornwall, time and again, China seems to be President Biden's foreign policy priority, and

this is really just materializing this pact as a result, potentially, of that. This nuclear technology that they're helping Australia develop with

nuclear-powered submarines, this is an extremely rare thing. Just put this in context --

SANGER: That's right --

GORANI: For people. This is not something that happens very often.

SANGER: No, it last happened in 1958, and that's when the United States shared this technology with Britain. That's the only country that the

United States has shared it with. Now, as the ambassador pointed out, the French have their own nuclear submarine fleet. So, it's not as if they

don't understand what nuclear submarines are all about.


That's not what the Australians ordered from them. They ordered conventional sort of diesel-powered submarines, and the U.S. convinced the

Israelis -- convinced the Australians, and the Australians themselves became convinced that they needed silent-running or long-running nuclear

submarines to be able to go deal with the whole Pacific. But that --

GORANI: Yes --

SANGER: Begs the question of why they did not either prepare the French for this or bring them into the deal.

GORANI: And also the EU today, I mean, they could not have timed this worse in terms of -- you know, if they -- you know, if their objective was not to

anger the Europeans, today is when the EU foreign affairs minister is delivering his own strategy for Indo -- for the Indo-Pacific region. So,

it's overshadowing even that. It's sort of making this big splashy announcement on the day the EU is trying to tell the world what its

approach is going to be there.

SANGER: That's right. And part of what the U.S. strategy has been is not only to refocus American attention on the Indo-Pacific, but to get other

allies, particularly, the Europeans who rarely have thought about it to focus there as well. And you know, that was having some success and I think

will have success in the future. It's been a harder, a longer slog to get the European nations to think of China less as just some big trading

partner and more as a potential national security competitor and perhaps a threat.

So, you know, I'm not sure that in the end, the U.S. in bolstering its position with the Australians and getting them to conduct these kind of

patrols, once these submarines are built, have done themselves as much good as they could have. But if it comes at the expense of cooperation with the

Europeans, particularly the French who have -- you know, from the start of the Biden administration has been saying it's great to have Biden in, but

that doesn't mean that we don't need to have some strategic autonomy along the way. We can't be overly dependent on the United States.

GORANI: David Sanger as always, thanks so much for joining us, really appreciate your analysis.

SANGER: Great to be with you.

GORANI: Still to come tonight, social media in Afghanistan has been rife with rumors about political conflict. Some of it allegedly turning violent.

What one top Taliban member is saying about it. He gave an impromptu -- shall we call it a news conference, at a hotel in Kabul. We're live in

Kabul, next.



GORANI: Welcome back. The acting deputy prime minister in Afghanistan is denying rumors of power struggles among Taliban factions in the Haqqani

Network. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is the Taliban co-founder says the rumors are simply not true and that it's going well, and that all parties

are treating each other with, quote, "kindness and mercy". Baradar appeared on camera Wednesday to quash reports that he was injured in a dispute at

the presidential palace. He said he's, quote, "fit and well". Nic Robertson is in Kabul for us with more on this reported infighting in the

presidential palace. What more can you tell us?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Hala, I think the best that we know is, there has been infighting of sorts. The rumors that

Baradar had been injured really in that infighting have really now appeared to have been laid to rest by the fact that he's appeared on camera. But I

don't think his statements are really having perhaps the desired effect on the population here. You know, we heard also from a senior figure within

the Haqqani Network, Anas Haqqani also saying that this has been essentially a project of the Taliban's enemies over the past 20 years to

try to say that there are gaps and divisions within them.

So, you know, both from the sort of political point of view within the Taliban because I think that's where you put Baradar as a strong political

leader who negotiated the peace deal that allowed -- with the United States that allowed the Taliban to get into the capital. And Haqqani Network has

been the strongest political element within the Taliban, who have put in the most money, committed the most fighters, and you know, had a resource

at one time of a massive number of suicide attackers as well. So, the Haqqanis feel hugely and fully invested in the victory, and this seems to

be a rift where the Haqqanis want to nudge out the politicians and take stronger roles for themselves.

This is, of course, what is being denied here. I was asking people this on the streets today. You know, people of this country have witnessed 40 years

more than of fighting here, and more than ample quantities of infighting within different governments and different factions. I mean, go back 25 odd

years ago before the Taliban, this city was being shelled by three or four different factions, fought over, people killed in huge numbers. So I think

the notion for people in this city and around the country that the Taliban are really all on the same point at the moment, and all in agreement about

who gets the power and who -- you know, who makes the big decisions.

People of this city aren't buying that at the moment. But the real concern is that this could develop into something worse. I think the diplomatic

view here in Kabul at the moment is that the Taliban are not about to implode, but, of course, the pressure is going to mount on them as the

international community has great expectations of rights for women, rights for minorities, and the Taliban have great expectations to get their hands

on the money that the international community has that they need to run the country and make the whole thing a success. Hala?

GORANI: You talked about going out onto the streets and talking to people. What is it like in Kabul right now?

ROBERTSON: You know, it's a very interesting time. I don't say that as somebody who's -- you know, who's been here many times and has, you know --

has a certain perspective about it. It's just that moment in history where you have a new leadership coming into the country that potentially can

bring peace after 40 years. But at the moment, you know, that's in doubt. So, when you're on the streets here, going out the day after Mullah Baradar

has said I'm OK, let's get along, this is a message for the Afghans. You know, I think people have sort of just breathed a sigh of relief because if

Baradar hadn't surfaced or had been proven to have been killed or something, then you could have really expected infighting to sort of come

on to the streets.

So people, I think, are slightly relieved from that. How is it on the streets? I think, you know, my takeaway is, you know, back in the day when

the Taliban were here before, they really made women wear burqas, they really made men wear beards, grow beards, they really made them wear sort

of local traditional clothing. That isn't happening at the moment. Yes, the Taliban are going after and apparently trying to kill some of their enemies

in some ethnic groups, and trying to, you know, chase down women who want stronger rights.

But a lot of people are out on the streets, men and women. Women in sort of not the full burqa, a colored headscarf for example, men in jeans, clean

shaven. So there's a sense that for some people in this city, that this is a slightly different Taliban, but nobody is really convinced that what we

see today is what will be there tomorrow, Hala.

GORANI: Nic Robertson live in Kabul. Thank you. Still to come tonight, confusion over COVID vaccine boosters. New reports suggest they can help,

but not everyone is sold on this just yet. We'll try to sort things out for you.


And Italy is tightening its COVID restrictions. It's mandating those COVID passes for everyone who works. We're live in Rome.




GORANI: This news just in from Italy. The country is now mandating those COVID green passes for many more people. In fact, it's mandating them for

all working people. Public and private sectors are affected with this latest announcement from the health minister. Let's go straight to Rome.

Ben Wedeman has the details on that.

How does it work?

People have to show bar codes to get into their office buildings?

How does it work?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is really, Hala, the toughest measure yet in Europe to fight the COVID pandemic.

Basically people have to show these so-called green passes that prove that either they are fully vaccinated or that they have recently proved negative

for coronavirus or that they've recently recovered from the virus.

That will be required for public and private sector workers to go to work. And if they show up without a pass, they will be suspended without pay.

Others who refuse to comply with these measures could be fined hundreds of euros. And employers who do not make sure that their workers are in

compliance themselves will be fined as well.

So these are tough measures. Italy is trying to avoid another wave of this pandemic.


WEDEMAN: Keeping in mind, of course, that Italy was one of the hardest hit countries in the early stages of the pandemic. And as far as Europe is

concerned, it has the second highest death toll, after, of course, the United Kingdom.

Now these measures will come into effect on the 15th of October. And they are just the latest in a series of measures that are restricting access to

public places for people who are not fully vaccinated.

Now there have been scattered protests against these increasingly tough measures but, by and large, there does seem to be public support to try to

avoid, as I said, another spike in the number of cases as winter approaches -- Hala.

GORANI: How many Italians are unvaccinated right now?

WEDEMAN: Well, I can sort of give you the other side of that statistic. According to the Italian government, 75 percent of the population of Italy

over the age of 12 has had at least one vaccination. So it's fairly high; certainly much higher than the United States.

But obviously, there is still some room to go. And the government is trying to introduce gradually tougher and tougher measures to try to basically

push those doubters into actually getting the vaccination.

GORANI: But you need two jabs to get the green pass, right?

WEDEMAN: Yes. When I said that it's 75 percent of the population over the age of 12 who have had one vaccination, of course, you know, the younger

sectors are still in the process of getting those vaccinations.

And, of course, there are some vaccinations, like the Johnson & Johnson, I believe, you only need one vaccination. So that particular statistic we

could discuss further, if we had the time.

GORANI: All right, Ben, thanks very much. Ben Wedeman, I'm eager to see how that plays out in real life and see, you know, if someone shows up without

the green pass, what happens then.

It will be interesting. Thank you very much. Ben Wedeman in Rome.

In just one day, U.S. health advisers will discuss whether there's enough evidence to support the use of COVID vaccine boosters. They will review

data on Pfizer's vaccine, including three new reports that support the argument for a third shot.

But there's still not universal agreement just yet about that. On Monday, a group of international vaccine experts argued that current evidence doesn't

appear to support a need for boosters right now.

And so far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been neutral on that question. Let's get more now from CNN medical reporter Jacqueline Howard.

So where do we fall then here on whether or not -- just ordinary people, what advice should they follow?

Should they get the third shot or not?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH CORRESPONDENT: That's what we'll find out in the coming days, at least here in the United States, Hala. Once the

advisers to the FDA meet tomorrow, there should be more clear guidance on whether the agency is going to move forward with authorizing boosters or


And when you ask medical experts, there are really arguments all across the board. Some say that, because there has been data showing waning immunity

after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, then we should receive boosters to boost that immunity.

But then there are some others that say vaccines are still performing at highly effective levels and, therefore, there's no need for boosters right

now. Vaccines are still preventing severe illness and death.

And then you have some experts who say, listen, we still need more data. So there are arguments all across the board. And when our director of the U.S.

National Institutes of Health was asked for a clear answer around boosters, here's what he said.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Is there a clear answer to whether or not a booster is necessary?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: There is not, which is why we're having this public discussion on Friday, with all of the

data out there that everybody can look at.

You know, if we were an authoritarian country, we would have just told you the answer and that would have been that. But that's not how we do things.


HOWARD: So once the FDA's vaccine advisers meet tomorrow, we'll then see whether the United States will join other nations, such as Israel, in

rolling out booster doses or whether the advisers recommend not to. So we'll have to see what happens.

GORANI: And what are they basing their decision on?

Are they measuring, in trials the -- for instance, the amount of antibodies that people who have had two shots still have in their system, several

months after their second jab?

How are they going about it?


HOWARD: Yes, they are looking at data on antibodies as well as data out of Israel and they are looking at data that has been submitted by the

vaccinemaker, Pfizer and BioNTech.

Some of that data, Pfizer's data, shows that four months after someone has received their second dose, you do see the vaccine's efficacy dropping from

96 percent, which is what's seen immediately after being fully vaccinated, to around 83 percent four months later.

And because there has been that waning immunity, Pfizer is using that data to make the argument and apply for its vaccine to be used as a booster. Now

there's also, as I mentioned, data out of Israel, showing that older adults 60 and older who received boosters, their antibody levels were boosted

after receiving that shot.

There is evidence showing that antibody levels can actually return to what is seen just two weeks after receiving your second dose. So there is that

data that will be reviewed.

But there is also the argument that some medical experts are making, that say we need data here in the United States to see what's seen among the

U.S. population. So again, it's really unclear how advisers will vote tomorrow on this. But it will be interesting to see what comes out of this

meeting here in the United States.

GORANI: It sure will. Jacqueline Howard, thanks very much for that.

The White House is reaching out to Nikki Minaj, offering to connect her with a Biden administration doctor to answer questions about COVID vaccines

after Minaj posted unverified claims about vaccines on Twitter.

She said Monday she wasn't going to that night's Met Gala because of the event's vaccine requirement. She also said a friend of her cousin became

impotent after getting the vaccine and suffered some other problem as well, related to swelling. There is no link between the shots and infertility,

experts tell us.

In France, roughly 3,000 health care workers have been suspended for refusing to get the vaccine. The country had required all medical

professionals to get one by Wednesday. That was yesterday. While most people have complied, those who haven't will not be paid until they do. Jim

Bittermann is in Paris.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: After weeks of warnings from the government, about 3,000 health care workers who were suspended this

morning from their jobs in hospitals and old age homes because they have not started vaccination programs.

The health minister, in making the announcement, said the 3,000 is only a small fraction of the 2.7 million people who work in the health care

sector. And he said that, in fact, most of those who are suspended are in support jobs, not necessarily dealing directly with patients.

And he also said that he thinks the 3,000 will be temporary suspensions, because, in fact, people will get their vaccinations, once they realize

that the government is very serious about its vaccination mandates.

He also added this, he said, "In our country of rights and obligations, health care workers have an avocation to save the sick because health care

workers have always acted responsibly" -- Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


GORANI: Just ahead, France says it's killed a top terrorist operating in western Africa. We're in Paris for the details.





GORANI: French forces say they've killed the leader of an ISIS-affiliated group in western Africa. It happened, they say, in Mali last month, during

an air and ground operation.

Officials say Adnan Abu al-Sahrawi died after being wounded in an airstrike. Let's get to Melissa Bell, live in Paris.

Who is this person that the French claim they killed?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the foreign minister described him here in France today as their public enemy number one, the man they've been

seeking out. And this is an attack; it was on a motorcycle he was traveling on. It was a drone strike that happened in mid-August.

The French said they waited to confirm that it was actually him that they had killed. Just to give you an idea of who he was, Hala, essentially he

was, before he joined or pledged allegiance to ISIS, he had been within one of the Al Qaeda affiliated groups in northern Mali.

He then pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015 but it took four years for ISIS itself to recognize him formally and place his group under their command

structure. And really what happened in between those years was his successful carrying-out of operations along that very dangerous and porous

Malian-Nigerian border, the tri-state region, which includes also Burkina Faso.

And only then was he accepted within that formal command structure. More recently, he's been held responsible, he's claimed responsibility for the

killing of those four American soldiers, you'll remember in Niger, back in 2017, and also for the killing of six French humanitarian workers last

year, that happened only an hour out of (INAUDIBLE).

And it's a reminder of how much more dangerous, how much more unstable this particular region around these borders has become, with his just one of

several jihadist groups vying for control in what is becoming an increasingly lawless land.

The U.N. estimates that some 2 million people have been internally displaced as a result of the violence we've seen in these regions. And the

French arms minister -- army minister -- said today that the ISIS group he had led was responsible for the killing of some 2,000 to 3,000 civilians in

a region since 2013.

It gives you an idea of the violence going on along these borders that so much of the world has not been paying attention to.

GORANI: Did they provide more details about this drone attack?

We saw, just very recently in Afghanistan, when the U.S. targeted someone they believed was affiliated with ISIS-K, that these drone attacks can be


Did they give more information about whether or not there were other casualties?

BELL: They have continued, over the course of the day and from the president to the armed forces minister to the foreign minister, to speak

about the fact that this was a huge blow to the Islamic State and the Greater Sahara, that they had been looking for this man in particular.

Whether or not they just got lucky remains unclear. Of course, one of the problems that not just the U.N. and the French forces in the region have

but the regional forces, Hala, is that, dealing with jihadist groups, often circulating on motorcycles and with equipment, that they simply don't have

the means to match does make it extremely difficult for them to take on.

But yes, a great deal today has been made here in France of the fact that they say they've now confirmed that it was him that was killed. And this,

of course, because remember, this is the French operation in Mali in the Sahel region, a particularly popular one here in France and one that

Emmanuel Macron is trying to wind down.

It's very important to hammer home its successes.

GORANI: Right. Thank you very much, Melissa Bell, live in Paris.


GORANI: Still to come, she's the new face of U.K. foreign policy on the world stage. She's not a household name outside this country, Liz Truss.

We'll take a closer look at the woman now setting Britain's foreign policy.




GORANI: There is a new face on the world stage. Liz Truss is the new U.K. foreign secretary and only the second woman to ever hold the post. The move

is part of a pretty major government shake-up, which saw the prime minister, Boris Johnson, demote his top diplomat and fire his education and

housing secretaries.

Truss inherits a host of complex issues -- navigating Brexit and the crisis in Afghanistan amid a global pandemic. We're quite familiar with her in the

U.K., because she's vocal on many issues. Bianca Nobilo is live with us for more.

What do we know about her foreign policy priorities, where she's likely to take this office?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: We've got a taste of that because Liz Truss has been secretary of state for international trade. So

that's enabled us to see how she responds to different areas of the world; namely the E.U., China, the U.S.

So Liz Truss didn't vote for Brexit. She was a Remainer initially and then became quickly, under Boris Johnson's government, a convert to Brexit.

She's been very optimistic about it. And she wants to see all the opportunities that Brexit might offer.

That could mean that it's a little difficult to navigate. As somebody that formally supported Remain, when she's trying to deal with the E.U., perhaps

forging closer ties when it comes to concerted foreign policy action or sharing of security and sort of counterterror details.

She'll need to align herself quite cautiously in order to appease the Conservatives and her base. When we look at where she stands on America, we

know she wants to deepen that special relationship.

This is something, of course, where the government figures in the U.K. much more emotional about the special relationship; the U.S. tends to see it on

a more transactional basis.

When we look at China, Liz Truss has been hawkish and robust. I think this will be a key sticking point, obviously, in the years ahead.

She believes that China gets unfair special treatment from the World Trade Organization, has been outspoken on how it's handled intellectual property

issues, also being outspoken about human rights abuses in Xinjiang province. So we can expect to Se some punchy language from her on that.


NOBILO: But she's also got a difficult situation because the office of foreign secretary isn't quite what it was. Now Number 10 handles a lot of

diplomacy itself. Also the Brexit negotiations are handled directly by David Frost and the cabinet office.

So it's going to be difficult for her to make sure that she can forge her own way without going against or crossing any other lines or stepping on

people's toes in other departments.

So it will be interesting to see what she does with this. She's definitely a much more optimistic, patriotic figure than Dominic Raab, who was her

predecessor, who many think Boris Johnson demoted in this reshuffle, namely because of his -- the sort of behavior over Afghanistan, that he was very

slow to respond to the developing situation there.

Liz Truss is a much more optimistic figure and perhaps an underestimated figure as well. In the U.K., domestically, she's quite well known for a

particular speech that she gave in 2014, where she was oddly passionate about British agriculture.

I suggest our viewers look at it. She spoke about cheese. So she is an underestimated figure and somebody that's yet to forge a reputation

internationally and establish herself as a real heavyweight.

But she's incredibly popular with the conservative base, often tops all the polls for the most popular person in government. And she's been a longtime

supporter of Boris Johnson, so a natural pick for Boris Johnson and a somewhat of an unknown as to how she'll navigate the international stage.

GORANI: All right, Bianca Nobilo, thanks very much.

If you plan to see Paris' Arc de Triomphe anytime soon, you may be in for a surprise. The whole monument has been wrapped up like a gift. It's a

recyclable plastic curtain. The French president visited just hours ago to inaugurate the art installation, designed by the late artist Christo. He

wrapped bridges, the Reichstag as well.

It was brought to life by his nephew. And the project cost about $16 million. Christo is famous for wrapping also the cliffs on Australia's

coastline. Those were wrapped up as well.

Wrapping art installation.

Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS is coming your way, next.