Return to Transcripts main page

Your World Today

French Lawmakers Advance New Anti-Terror Measures; Interview With French Prime Minister Dominque de Villepin; Bush Takes Border Campaign to El Paso

Aired November 29, 2005 - 12:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: With an overwhelming vote, French lawmakers advance a slate of tough new anti-terror measures.


DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, PRIME MINISTER OF FRANCE: We should recognize that we have not met enough during all these years and decades.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: French Prime Minister Dominque de Villepin talks about easing his country' s social unrest.

HOLMES: And after weeks on the defensive over Iraq, U.S. President Bush prepares to outline his views on U.S. troop levels.

CHURCH: It' s 6:00 p.m. in Paris, 12:00 noon in Washington. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOLMES: And I' m Michael Holmes. Welcome to our viewers throughout the world. This is CNN International, and this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CHURCH: A security clampdown in France. The lower house of the French parliament overwhelmingly approved a tough new anti-terrorism bill.

HOLMES: This measure comes in response to the deadly July terror bombings in London and amid a recent climate of social unrest.

CHURCH: We'll discuss that social melee and other issues with the French prime minister.

HOLMES: Meanwhile, the new legislation would substantially toughen police powers in the country.

CHURCH: The bill still needs to clear a senate vote before it becomes law, but here are some of the highlights.

HOLMES: The bill recommends increased surveillance cameras in public places such as businesses, mosques, department stores, train stations, other facilities as well.

CHURCH: The bill would stiffen prison terms for terrorists and those providing support to terrorists.

HOLMES: It would extend the detention period for terror suspects from four days to six days.

CHURCH: The bill would also enable police to monitor people who travel to countries known to harbor terror training camps.

HOLMES: The interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, drafted the measure and says the bill will not trample on civil liberties.

For the latest, let's go now to Jim Bittermann, standing by in Paris. Jim, this did pass by an overwhelming majority. Was it -- there was little doubt it would pass. Is it a surprise by how much?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a little bit of a surprise, although there are very few groups in the parliamentary make-up that in fact would have opposed this. No one in the parliamentary chamber this afternoon wanted to appear to be going soft on terrorism. And there are a couple of things that I think played into this quite well, played into Sarkozy's hand quite well.

As you mentioned, the London bombing pointed out dramatically how you can improve your police work after these kinds of attacks if you have a lot of surveillance cameras. The British police were within hours already tracking down some of the suspects in the London bombing. And I think the French took a point from that, that in fact having these cameras around serves a useful purpose.

And then the other thing, as you mentioned, this is played against the background of the unrest in the suburbs here. And of course that has nothing to do at all with this terrorist legislation except that civil rights activists here fear that in fact it will be used, this law will be used on immigration matters to track people down, watch people's movements and that sort of thing.

That's the fear. But the government says no, it's just for terrorism.


HOLMES: And so, Jim, do you think without the recent social unrest that we witnessed in Paris, the nights of rioting, do you think this would have passed with such high numbers?

BITTERMANN: I don't think the results would have been quite the same as they were this afternoon. But nonetheless, I think probably it would have passed anyway because Nicolas Sarkozy has done a very good job of softening the ground for this legislation. As much as six weeks ago he began saying that France was a very real target for terrorists. He said the ingredients and the threat really do exist. So he laid the groundwork very well in a way that a lot of people were concerned about the possibility of an outside threat. There's kind of been sort of a laissez-faire, a blase attitude about terrorism here because there's always been the feeling that France has this special relationship with the Middle East and is viewed differently than the rest of the world, perhaps.

But I think that's changed the last few months. There's a lot of notice for the police. They've put out warnings that in fact they've heard of threats to France -- French targets. And a number of round- ups have taken place that have led to suspects being arrested who had in fact plans in their possession for attacks on French targets. So I think the threat has become more real over the last few months.


HOLMES: All right. As always, thanks, Jim. Jim Bittermann there in Paris.


CHURCH: Well, U.S. President George W. Bush has launched a new push to crack down on illegal immigration. The president is in the border town of El Paso, Texas, after making a similar stop in Arizona on Monday. President Bush is promising to harden the southern U.S. border with Mexico with additional offices, fences and monitoring devices.

Mr. Bush also urged Congress to back his proposal for a temporary worker program. It would allow undocumented immigrants to get three- year work visas with an extension. Democrats and many of his conservative allies criticize that program which they say would allow illegal immigrants to get legal status.

HOLMES: Still to come on YOUR WORLD TODAY...

CHURCH: An exclusive on CNN. The French prime minister speaks about his country's efforts to curb social unrest.


DE VILLEPIN: It is really our goal now to answer their demand and to move and to put as a priority a lot more that needs to be done on housing, on education, on employment. And this is going to be on the agenda of our government.



HOLMES: All right. We can tell you some news just coming into us here.

Al-Jazeera television has broadcast a videotape from an unknown group in Iraq issuing pictures, videotape, in fact, of four Western hostages. We believe these are the four that were taken just a day or two ago -- two Canadians, one British, one American -- part of a recent upsurge in hostage-taking of foreigners in Iraq.

Of course it's never really slowed down when it comes to hostage- taking of Iraqis. But there haven't been many foreigners taken in recent months.

This is two Canadians, one Briton and an American. This group, unknown Iraqi group in this video, calls them - quote -- "spies" in the video, when they are, we are told, however, peace activists.

And we will keep you informed. This only just happened in the last few minutes.

All right. Let's update you now, returning to France, where the government is taking steps to fight terrorism and toughen immigration laws. All of this coming as the country comes to grips with the recourse of riots and vandalism earlier this month.

CHURCH: Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour sat down with French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to talk about the issue, but first she takes us back to the violence that became a catalyst for change.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): November saw the worst social unrest in France since the student uprisings in 1968. It started outside Paris in the suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois and spread like wildfire to scores of outer city ghettos around the country. It was sparked by the electrocution death of two youths who thought they were being pursued by the police and hid in an electricity substation.

The riots blew the lid off deep disenfranchisement felt by French youth of African and Arab origin. It shocked France. It took President Jacques Chirac 10 days to make a public appeal for calm. His prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, introduced a state of emergency, and for the first time ever, a nighttime curfew.

Now the riots have ended. There are no curfews in place. But the state of emergency continues, at least until the New Year. And the French government says it is a matter of urgency to address the demands of these young people who need jobs, better housing, better education, and to feel like they really have equal opportunities.

(on camera): Firstly, thank you very much for joining us, Mr. Prime Minister. Would you accept that France has a very serious social malaise, a serious social problem that requires dramatic solutions and actions?

DE VILLEPIN: Yes, indeed -- important and severe social unrest. We have had more than 9,000 cars that were burned. We had approximately 130 policemen that were injured, and approximately a hundred of public buildings that were damaged during this period, during these two weeks of unrest.

AMANPOUR: You know, many people, after Hurricane Katrina struck the United States, said that it exposed the poverty and racism that exists in the United States. Many people here in France said that, around the world said it. Many people also said that the riots in the ghettos, if you like, in the suburbs... DE VILLEPIN: I'm not sure you can call them riots. It's very different from the situation you have known in 1992 in L.A., for example. You had at that time 54 people that died. You had 2,000 people wounded. In France, during the two-week period of unrest, nobody died in France. So I think you cannot compare this social unrest with any kind of riots.

AMANPOUR: What do you call it, then?

DE VILLEPIN: Social unrest. You have to understand also that there were no guns in the streets, no adults -- mostly young people between 12 and 20. So it is a very special movement.

AMANPOUR: Many people say that special movement or social unrest is fueled by mass unemployment, especially in the youth.

DE VILLEPIN: Yes, it's approximately double than the rest of the country.

AMANPOUR: Which is dramatic.

DE VILLEPIN: Yes, of course.

AMANPOUR: By poverty and by racism.

DE VILLEPIN: Well, feeling of discrimination. Very often, you have people coming from the second generation of immigration. And they don't know their country of origin, and they don't have the same link with France than their parents who choose to come and work here.

So as Jacques Chirac, the president of the republic, said, there was some kind of lack of identity.

AMANPOUR: In terms of identity, many of them told us that they are asked to be French in the spirit of the French republic. But the French government doesn't love them, doesn't care about them, doesn't do enough to make sure that they have equal opportunity in a country that is all about equality.

DE VILLEPIN: I think we should recognize that we have not met enough during all these years and decades. And we need to be conscious of this situation.

We have to say that -- and it is important also to understand the real nature of this movement. There is no ethnic or religious basis of this movement, as we can see in some of the parts of the world. But it is true that the feeling of discrimination, the feeling of maybe not having the same equal chance.

But what is interesting is that most of these young people, they want to be 100 percent French. They want to have equal chances. So it is really our goal now to answer their demand and to move and to put as a priority a lot more that needs to be done on housing, on education, on employment. And this is going to be on the agenda of our government during the next weeks and months. AMANPOUR: The majority of these people who are in the bonniers (ph) are black, are of North African origin, and they feel that they -- there are not only no opportunities, but no role models. There are no minorities in your parliament...


AMANPOUR: ... none in your news organizations. None in the top level of French...

DE VILLEPIN: But they don't want to be recognized. They don't want to be recognized as Muslims or blacks or people coming from North Africa. They want to be recognized as French, and they want to have an equal opportunity during their life.

AMANPOUR: So what do you say then to somebody whose name is Mohammed, who knows that even if he has the best grades from the Sorbonne, his resume, his CV, will be rejected five times more often than somebody who's called Francois? That's a fact.

DE VILLEPIN: Well, the first -- the first question is to everybody in this country. We have to answer the question and try to solve it. Nobody can accept that. This cannot be a fatality. We want to change this mentality, and already we've seen a lot of initiatives.

Take, for example, a lot of companies, French companies that have decided to have a more diverse recruitment in their own companies. So we should change that.

We have -- many decisions have been taken during the last years. For example, (SPEAKING FRENCH) anonymous, which allows the company to choose people without knowing which race or which religion. So I believe that it is a matter of mobilization in the country in order to make sure that discrimination is not going to be accepted.

President Chirac has decided to create a high institute (ph), high authority against discrimination and for equality. And this authority is going to be able to give sanctions to people that are not going to comply with our discrimination (ph) rules.

AMANPOUR: Is that like positive discrimination? Is that affirmative action?

DE VILLEPIN: No. There is a difference between what we stand for in our republic, which is equal chances and affirmative action.

Affirmative action is mainly aimed in taking into account the race and the religion. In our republic, everybody is equal, and we don't want to take into account the color of the skin or the religion. But we want to take into account the difficulty that one may have. So we want to have the individuals on the basis of their own difficulties. That's why we are going to have an important program in order to help more of these neighborhoods that had been facing difficulties in terms of an education, for example. That means we are going to help all the different schools in these neighborhoods, in order to help all the young people that maybe cannot master as well the French language or do have problems in schools.

It means a very intense program in order to give them equal chances.

AMANPOUR: How can you help these people if you do not take into account that they are discriminated against because of their color?

DE VILLEPIN: We are going to triple the scholarships given to the children. We are going to triple the boarding schools in order to answer to the best students in these different neighborhoods, in order to help them going to university and to have a good career.

But the difference between the system you have and the one we have is that we are going to help as well any young children in France facing difficulty, but not taking into account the fact that he is black or coming from Algieria (ph) or being Muslim. Everyone who has difficulty is going to be taken into account and helped individually.

AMANPOUR: It was your government that cut quite a lot of money and quite a lot of programs to these areas which we just saw explode in a spasm of violence.

DE VILLEPIN: That's not absolutely true.

AMANPOUR: Well, there was quite a lot of cuts.

DE VILLEPIN: Well, we spend differently in different programs. And we have put the emphasis mainly on housing. We have decided to have a $30 billion (ph) program in order to renovate the whole urbanization, because one of the big problems in this neighborhood is that in the '60s and in the '70s, in order to answer to the crisis of housing, it has been created a lot of high-rise buildings with a lot of people living there in a very difficult way.

So we have decided to build residences on a smaller scale, and we are doing that in very, very fast programs -- 18 months between the demolishing of these big buildings and the reconstruction of these new residences.

So this is, of course, very expensive programs. What is true is that we have decided to reallocate a certain amount of money for the social organizations working in these cities.

AMANPOUR: But some people also say that the labor laws here need to be changed. That because it is so difficult to hire young people without being able to fire them because of your very, very strict social and labor laws, that that is a double negative against some of these people.

DE VILLEPIN: Well, first, we want to make a very special effort in direction of the young people of these neighborhoods. That's why we've decided to have our national agency of unemployment to receive all the young people in these neighborhoods during the next months, and in order to propose them either a job, either a training program, or an internship in order to re-answer to their demands.

We are really willing to take into account their very specific difficulties and individually to answer these difficulties.

AMANPOUR: How long do you have to get it right?

DE VILLEPIN: Well, it's an emergency matter. We want to deal with these matters very, very fast. I'm going to present the program on Thursday in order to have better justice, better education in these neighborhoods.

So we are taking these very seriously. We want to have very fast answers, and global answers in order to really comply with our obligations.

We are facing -- this is the difficulty, problems of a very different nature, problems, for example, of employment.

We want to attract more companies into these neighborhoods. And we have created tax-free zones. We want to increase the number of these tax-free zones in order to have more companies creating jobs. But also, we want the people of these neighborhoods being able to accept jobs outside of these neighborhoods, because we need a social mix in order to have a really equilibrium in our society.

So it is a challenge. It is a challenge for these neighborhoods. It is a challenge for the whole French society. And I think it's very important that we succeed in this, because what happened in France can happen, of course, elsewhere, in other countries in Europe or elsewhere. It is part of a new phenomenon of globalization.

So we need to be successful. And I think France has to show that its society has a vitality, has a capacity, has a willingness really to make and to deal with the challenge.


HOLMES: All right. We're going to have more from Mr. de Villepin, including his views on the war in Iraq. That's when YOUR WORLD TODAY returns.

CHURCH: But first, a look at top news in the United States is up next for our viewers in the U.S. The rest of us will get a report on what's moving financial markets.

Stay with us.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And hello, everyone. I'm Tony Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta. More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes, but first, a check of stories making headlines in the U.S.

President Bush is promoting his immigration plan again today with a stop in El Paso, Texas. He is expected to repeat a message he raised yesterday in Arizona calling for tighter U.S. borders with Mexico, but reforms to also allow some undocumented immigrants to get temporary guest work visas. The president has not been able to get Congress to sign off on the visa proposal. He also wants to crack down on U.S. businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

The first major snowstorm of the season is moving eastward. The Twin Cities area of eastern Minnesota expects only an inch or two of snow. But with an icy undercoating, driving could be very treacherous. Temperatures there dropped 30 degrees from this time yesterday.

In Kansas, traffic is moving again on Interstate 70. Blizzard- like conditions had shut down the state's main east-west route from Salina to the Colorado state line.

Near downtown Chicago, the problems were manmade. Just after midnight this morning, a water main broke and unleashed floodwaters on the northbound lanes of Interstate 90-94. Some areas were swallowed by four feet of water, but crews were able to shut off the flow and reopen the expressway just before this morning's rush.

Upstairs now, to CNN's severe weather expert, Chad Myers, who is following all of this from the Weather Center. Hi, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN SEVERE WEATHER EXPERT: Hi, Tony. You know, if any of that remains overnight into the morning hours, temperatures are going to be well below freezing there in Chicago. So watch out for any puddles that look like it's wet. No puddles will be wet tomorrow.

Minneapolis, same story. Seeing a little melting now with some sunshine. But by morning -- and you're only 22, but the sun warms it up enough to melt a little bit, especially on roadways that aren't bridges. But then by tomorrow, we will actually see that re-freezing -- even after sunset tonight -- re-freezing. Down to 30 for your highs for today. Chicago to 37 tomorrow.

Even a little bit cooler, about 27 in Minneapolis, 54 in D.C. That's almost 20 degrees cooler than today.


HARRIS: Wow. OK, Chad. Thank you.

MYERS: You're welcome.

HARRIS: In news about your security, Miami police are launching a new program aimed at thwarting potential terrorists. The program, dubbed "Miami Shield", will include random high-profile security operations. Plain clothes and uniformed police will ride buses and trains and conduct public awareness campaigns in buildings.

Officials say there's no specific credible threat of an imminent terror attack in Miami. But the city has been mentioned in intelligence reports as a potential threat.

Be sure to stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

In Virginia, a woman accused of robbing banks while chatting on a cell phone stays in jail for now. A federal judge ordered Candice Martinez held without bond. The case now goes to a federal grand jury. Authorities say about $2,000 has been recovered out of $48,000 reported stolen in four robberies.

And we're getting a peek today at Tai Shan. The four-and-a-half- month old panda cub from the National Zoo had his first photo-op this morning. Take a look. The cub was the size of a stick of butter when he was born and now weighs a whopping 21 pounds. The public will be able to see Tai Shan up close beginning December 8.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is briefing the media in about 45 minutes from now. Live coverage here on CNN's LIVE FROM.

Meantime, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues.


HOLMES: And welcome back, everyone, to YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN International. I'm Michael Holmes.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. Here are some of the top stories we've been following.

The lower house of the French parliament has voted overwhelmingly to pass a tough new anti-terrorism bill. Among other measures, it would allow for a major increase in video surveillance, establish tougher jail sentences for convicted terrorists and allow police more time to question terror suspects. The bill still needs to clear a senate vote before it becomes law.

HOLMES: Al-Jazeera television has aired video of four aid workers kidnapped in Baghdad over the weekend. In the video, the group calling itself Swords of Truth calls the hostages spies. All are with the organization Christian Peacemaker Teams. They include two Canadians, one American and a Briton. CNN cannot at this point authenticate the video, nor its source. We're trying to do so.

CHURCH: Well, two more U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, bringing the total to more than 2,100. As the number of dead troops mounts, so does pressure on the White House to come up with an exit plan. President George W. Bush is on a swing through the western U.S. to help Republicans raise campaign money and to pitch new immigration proposals. But he is also to use the trip to begin unveiling the first steps in a strategy to withdraw from Iraq.

Dana Bash has more.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush is prepared to flesh out his thinking a bit on bringing some U.S. troops home from Iraq, senior administration officials tell CNN. Mr. Bush will do so in a series of speeches beginning Wednesday at the Naval Academy, where, according to one official, he will offer more detail into -- quote -- "what will guide his decision-making on troop levels."

It is an effort, after weeks on the defensive, to reassert control over the bruising Iraq political debate that even has close Bush allies increasingly worried.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.

TOM RATH, NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE: We need to know what that means, and we need to be reassuring that we are not agreeing to some open-ended commitment.

BASH: For months, Mr. Bush has made clear, withdrawal of American forces depends on the ability of the Iraqis to battle the insurgency. At Annapolis, aides say Mr. Bush is expected to avoid U.S. troop numbers or explicit timetables for withdrawing U.S. forces, but focus on what he will insist is progress Iraqis are making in training to secure their own country. The White House hopes that, and the December 15 Iraqi elections of a permanent government, will usher in more stability.

The secretary of state already signaled to CNN some troop reductions are coming.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I suspect that the -- that American forces are not going to be needed in the numbers that they're there for all that much longer, because Iraqis are continuing to make progress.

BASH: Veteran Republican activist Tom Rath says, in his home state of New Hampshire and around the country, what people want to hear from the president is a plan.

RATH: There is concern about knowing how we get to an end game. How do we get to the final point? And there's a need -- I think that you hear people say, tell us how we're going to get out of this.

BASH: But, given past problems training Iraqis, one influential Republican voice urges caution.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: There could be a very, very unpleasant interim if we are not very careful, in terms of the training we're giving.


CHURCH: Dana Bash reporting there.

Still, some Democrats are demanding a specific timetable for withdrawing troops.

HOLMES: France was, of course, one of the leading voices against war in Iraq. The French prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, took his anti-war message to the United Nations as France's U.N. ambassador.

Well, our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour talked with Mr. de Villepin about Iraq. First she gives us some background on France's pressing international issue.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): On the international front, the Iraq war drove a deep wedge between France and America. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, then foreign minister, was the face of French dissent. Today he admits no sense of vindication, but deep concern about Iraq's future.

The U.S. and France, as well as the rest of Europe, are working together now to try to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran's new president has started reprocessing uranium in defiance of an agreement with France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

France is also working with the U.S. to demand truth and justice in the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. After stonewalling for months, Syria, under the threat of sanctions, has now agreed to allow the U.N. investigator to question Syrian officials in this matter. France welcomes that development.

(on camera): France -- and yourself, when you were foreign minister -- was very vocal about the Iraq war. You obviously did not support it and you raised many of the issues that are currently unfolding there right now.

What do you think? Do you feel vindicated when you look at what Iraq is going through right now?

DE VILLEPIN: No, I think we -- it is, of course, a very difficult situation. We have gone a long way to begin to establish democracy in Iraq. But still there is a long way to go. And I think that the effort should be very important in terms of including all the political forces.

After the referendum on the constitution, we are going to have general elections in Iraq on the 15th of December. And I think it is a very important moment in order to try to put together all the political and social forces of the country. We know that there are true risks in Iraq still today. One is the division of Iraq, which is, of course, a nightmare for the region. And the second one is the growing role of terrorism.

So I think it's very important for the international community to try, really, to put all its forces together to solve the matter. And I think that we should support the initiatives of the armed league, try to support a better (INAUDIBLE) coalition of the different political forces. And also, make sure that all the countries of the region do work together in order to go forward.

AMANPOUR: But you can see that there's a huge amount of difficulty with that.

DE VILLEPIN: We knew since the beginning that it was very easy to go to war, but very difficult to get out of Iraq, because of the fragility of the country, because of the sensitivity of the situation in this region. So now, we have to face the situation that it is. And it is the responsibility of all the international community to help the process and to make sure that we go forward all together. AMANPOUR: Do you believe the United States should set a timetable for the withdrawal of its troops?

DE VILLEPIN: I believe that anything should be done, coordinated, with the local situation in Iraq and the regional situation. I think that the timetable should be a global timetable. The real timetable is the Iraqi situation. We should avoid at all costs the chaos (ph) in Iraq which, of course, would be a disaster for the whole region.

AMANPOUR: Iran. France, Britain and Germany have taken the lead in trying to make sure Iran does not get its hands on nuclear weapons. And you've also been very clear about not wanting Iran to engage in the uranium enrichment cycle. Those talks broke off. There's a new Iranian president. There's word that the EU Three is ready to start negotiations again. Is that true?

DE VILLEPIN: No, we have made an offer. And Iran has decided to resume enrichment of uranium, the conversion of uranium. And I think it's very important now today to put pressure on Iran to make sure that they accept this offer. If they don't accept, then we will have to go to the Security Council.

AMANPOUR: Do you believe the new president sees it that way, since they have restarted and say that they won't stop?

DE VILLEPIN: Well, you see, as always, in any negotiations, it's always difficult to make any prediction. But I think that there is a deal possible. There is an offer that has been made by the Europeans. And I think it is in the interest of the international community, in the interest of Iran, to accept this proposal.

AMANPOUR: What sanctions could you imagine?

DE VILLEPIN: You see, there is one key factor of diplomacy: never tell what you do before.

AMANPOUR: On that note, thank you very much indeed.

DE VILLEPIN: Thank you.


HOLMES: All right, still ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY...

CHURCH: A look at why Europeans are concerned about certain transport flights.

And ballot irregularities put a halt to some Palestinian primaries. The details, coming up next.


CHURCH: Welcome back. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

HOLMES: An hour of world news right here on CNN International. Let's update you on what's going on around the world. Germany's new foreign minister met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, Frank Walter Steinmier, who is paving the way for a visit by the new chancellor, Angela Merkel. Germany wants to ease strained relations with the U.S. Ties deteriorated, of course, between the two countries after former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder openly criticized the U.S. lead on the war in Iraq.

CHURCH: Well, complicating matters, reports that the CIA set up secret jails for terror suspects in some European nations. Steinmier has expressed concern about allegations that CIA flights carrying suspects may have passed through U.S. military bases in Germany.

Well, for more we go to European political editor Robin Oakley who joins us from London. Robin, it's certainly a very delicate issue. How likely is it that the new foreign minister of Germany would have raised this with Condoleezza Rice?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, obviously, Rosemary he's there on a goodwill mission. Angela Merkel criticized her predecessor, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, for poisoning relations with the United States over the Iraq war. She is very keen with her new administration to get things on a better footing with the White House.

So Mr. Steinmier is not going to be doing anything aggressive while he's meeting Condoleezza Rice. But he is under pressure for other U.S. politicians as the most senior figure to visit Washington really since these allegations of secret prisons in Eastern Europe and CIA flights across Europe carrying terrorist suspects to be interrogated have emerged. So I think what's likely is that there will be mention in the discussions with Condoleezza Rice of this issue, but that there won't be very much emerging in public in their comments when the two of them face the media.


CHURCH: And as we've mentioned, Robin, very much strained relations between the United States and Germany. But now with this change of government, a new chancellor in place, how different will this relationship likely be?

OAKLEY: Perhaps not as different as some people in the U.S. might be expecting, from the tone that Angela Merkel has adopted. Yes, she wants a better mood in those relations, but she's made it quite clear that even with the change of administration, Germany is not going to be sending troops into Iraq to help with allied efforts there, or training any Iraqis inside Iraq. Germany will only do that outside the country.

And of course, there are other foreign policy issues where it's going to be difficult for Angela Merkel and President George bush to see eye to eye. He wants the European Union, for example, to take in Turkey as a member at the earliest possible opportunity. Angela Merkel has set her (INAUDIBLE) on (ph) that particular issue. And again, on the environment, she said she wants the U.S. to change its mind about the Kyoto Treaty and global warming. There's never been any indication that George Bush is prepared to do that for anybody else. He's unlikely to do it for Angela Merkel.


CHURCH: So what are first things we're likely to see in an easing of these strained relations?

OAKLEY: Well, it had already begun under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Germany, for example, has played a very big part with troops in Afghanistan to show its willingness. I think we're going to see a very different kind of language used in relations between the two countries. But to begin with, it's largely going to be mood music rather than anything in practical terms. And significantly, Angela Merkel her first call in Europe was on President Jacques Chirac of France, showing that the Franco-German unity which was developed between Mr. Schroeder and President Chirac is likely to continue. They, of course, were the two most prominent critics in Europe of the Iraq war.

But, for example, we'll probably see a cooling of relations with President Putin in Russia. Gerhard Schroeder was a great chum of President Putin's. Angela Merkel has made it plain, she wants good relations with Russia, but rather cooler than they were under Mr. Schroeder.


CHURCH: All right, our European political editor talking to us from London.

HOLMES: One day after primaries for the ruling Fatah party was suspended in Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority is deciding its next move. The primaries were halted after gunmen disrupted voting at several polling stations in Gaza.

Guy Raz reports.


GUY RAZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All the trappings of an election: ballots, polling stations, candidates.

But the Palestinians who voted in this election aren't choosing new leaders; the voters are members of Fatah, the largest Palestinian political party. The candidates are simply vying for a spot on the party's slate during next January's parliamentary elections. Yet these internal party primaries are widely seen as an important test to gauge the Palestinian government's readiness to hold the much-larger January election. By most accounts, the government did not pass the test.

Over the weekend, the former head of a West Bank militia, Marwan Bargouti, earned 96 percent of the vote in one precinct alone. But Bargouti couldn't campaign. He's serving five life sentences for murder in an Israeli prison. On Monday, gunmen in Gaza seized several polling stations. And on Tuesday, allegations of vote rigging forced Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to suspend the voting.

AHMED AL-DEEK, FATAH ELECTION COMMITTEE (through translator): What happened in Gaza on Monday was the main reason why we have suspended the vote. But there has been a lot of chaos in many West Bank cities as well, which has held the president to suspend elections.

RAZ: Meanwhile, it's still unclear whether the Palestinian president will honor the results of the vote in the West Bank. Voters seem befuddled as well.

HOUSAM ADNAN, WEST BANK VOTER: We have some problems in Gaza. We don't know what's going on. That's why they can't settle. We don't know what's going on.

RAZ (on camera): The vote, in many ways, is advisory. Once Fatah members elect their preferred candidate, party grandees still have the final say over which members get a coveted spot on the party's January ballot and which members do not.

Guy Raz, CNN, Jerusalem.


HOLMES: Well, the United States president, George W. Bush, is in the border town of El Paso, Texas, today. He is expected to talk soon about his push to crack down on illegal immigration. There are other things that he is expected to talk about, though. Also, his speech tomorrow, where he is going to be talking about Iraq. Let's listen.

BUSH: I spent a lot of quality time in this part of the world when I was the governor, and I appreciate, by the way, the governor standing with me here.

I don't know if you remember or not, but Laura's mother was raised here. So El Paso's always had a special spot in our heart. I want to thank the people who are working the border. We have a responsible in the government to enforce our border. It's important for national security, it's important for economic security to have a good border security plan.

And so the secretary and I, and the attorney general, secretary of state of Texas, Johnny Sutton, the D.A., Congressman Mike Conaway, we've just taken a tour of this part of the border. And what should be a lesson is, is that you've got to adjust your strategy based upon the conditions.

This is an urban environment. Right over here's Juarez, and people are able to easily come into the border -- into Texas in this part of the -- in part of the border. And so what you're seeing is, you're seeing a combination of fencing, cameras, infrared and Border Patrol agents all doing their job. What we've done is we have boosted the amount of money available to enforce this border. We've added agents. We've added agents since I've become the president. We're adding more agents as a result of the bill I just signed, and we are adding infrastructure to make the city secure, as well as the rural parts of our border secure.

So step one of a border control strategy is increase the resources so the people standing behind me are able to do their job.

Step two is, when we catch somebody, don't release them. Catch and release has been a longstanding policy of the federal government, and we're going to change that.

Listen, we got people risking their lives to do their job here on the border, and nothing more dispiriting than to know the person that they have stopped coming into our country illegally is being released back into society.

And so we've got a plan for what we call internal repatriation for Mexicans. And we've got a plan for non-Mexican illegal immigrants. And part of that plan is to increase the number of beds available to detain people caught illegally coming into our country. And the second part is for Congress to change the laws. That will enable us to more likely have expedited removal.

The third aspect of our comprehensive strategy to do our duty and enforce the border is to have a worksite enforcement program. I mean, our employers in America have an obligation not to hire any illegal immigrants.

Many of those immigrants, by the way, use forged documents. So we have got a computer system up and running to enable employers to be able to determine whether or not the documents they are being presented are fake or not.

We are also increasing the number of agents that'll be working in the internal part of the country to find those who have broken the law and bring them to justice. We are a nation of law.

We are also compassionate nation. We've got to treat people with respect and dignity.

The third aspect of our policy is this: we need to have a rational temporary workers plan that is not amnesty. Amnesty would be a mistake. Granting amnesty to the people who have come to our country illegally would invite others to come to our country illegally.

On the other hand, a temporary worker program would take pressure off our border. When you match willing worker with willing employer on a job Americans won't do, with a tamper-proof card that says I'm going to ensure (ph) Border Patrol agents won't have to chase people coming here illegally to work. They will be able to chase criminals and drug traffickers and crooks.

What I'm telling you is we want to make the job of these folks easier. We want to support them. We want to support them with resources. We want to support them with rational policy so we can say to the American people, we've done our job, which is enforce this border.

I want to thank you very much for the tour. I want to thank you all for your hard work. You bring great pride to the uniform. I appreciate the risks you take on a daily basis.

And the appropriations bill I sign and the bills that are going to be working through the House and the Senate will make it more likely you'll be able to do your job.

So it's an honor to be here on the border, and I want to thank everybody for showing up.

I'll be glad to answer a couple of questions.

QUESTION: Sir, with elections coming up next year, how much pressure are you under to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Iraq before the end of 2006?

BUSH: I'm giving a speech tomorrow that outlines the progress we're making in training Iraqis to provide security for their country. And we will make decisions about troop levels based upon the capacity of the Iraqis to take the fight to the enemy.

And I will make decisions on the level of troops, based upon the recommendations by the commanders on the ground. If they tell me we need more troops, we'll provide more troops. If they tell me we've got a sufficient level of troop, that'll be the level of troops. If they tell me that the Iraqis are ready to take more and more responsibility and that we'll be able to bring some Americans home, I will do that. It's their recommendation.

Secondly, we want to win. The whole objective is to achieve a victory against the terrorists. The terrorists have made it very clear that Iraq is the central front on the war on terror. See, they want us to leave before we've achieved our mission. You know why? Because they want a safe haven. They want to be able to plot and plan attacks.

This country must never forget the lessons of September the 11th, 2001. And a victory in Iraq will deny the terrorists their stated goal.

Finally, a democracy in Iraq, which is now emerging, will serve as a fantastic example for reformers and others. And as democracy takes hold in the broader Middle East, we can say we have done our duty and laid the foundation of peace for generations to come.

QUESTION: Since we know that preparation of Iraqi troops is the main reason you want to bring U.S. troops home, can you talk about how satisfied you are with the Iraqi troop preparedness?

BUSH: Yes, look, here's what I'm interested in. I'm interested in winning. I want to defeat the terrorists. And I want our troops to come home. But I don't want them to come home without having achieved victory. And we've got a strategy for victory. And the commanders will make the decision.

See, that's what the people want. The people don't want me making decisions based upon politics. They want me to make decisions based upon the recommendation from our generals on the ground. And that's exactly who I'll be listening to.

I know there's a lot of voices in Washington. We've heard some people say, pull them out right now. That's a huge mistake. It would be a terrible mistake. It sends a bad message to our troops and it sends a bad message to our enemy and it sends a bad message to the Iraqis.

So my decision will be based upon the willingness of our commanders to say, the Iraqis are taking more of the fight and therefore, the conditions are such that we can reduce our troop presence.

QUESTION: But, sir, do you agree with comments by Secretary Rice who says that U.S. troops may not need to stay at current troop levels that we have there now for much longer?

BUSH: Well, this is a condition-based strategy we have. If conditions on the ground are such that we can reduce presence, the commanders will make that recommendation.

But victory is the primary objective. We've sacrificed a lot. We've had, you know, some of the finest Americans die in Iraq. And one thing we're not going to do is let them die in vain. We will achieve our objective, which is a stable Iraq, an ally in the war on terror.

And we will deny the terrorists safe haven in Iraq. Their stated objective is to use the one tool they've got, which is suicide bombers, beheadings and killings of innocent people, to drive us out of Iraq and the Middle East because they want to have safe haven. They want to spread their totalitarian ideology.

And so, our objective in Iraq is to win. And we will make our decisions based upon, primarily, victory and, second, whether or not the commanders think we can achieve that victory with a certain troop level. And that's what's important for the American people to understand: that, one, we are not going to cut and run; two, we'll achieve our objective; and, three, the president is going to listen to those who are on the ground who can make the best assessment.

QUESTION: Mr. President, what is the security risk on the border as far as homeland security and terrorism?

BUSH: Yes, look. There is great risk for people who wear the green, and they know that. And the reason there's great risk is because they don't know whether they are going to encounter some innocent soul just coming to work or somebody trying to smuggle drugs.

On our briefing as we came down the border here, I was told about a recent apprehension made by our Border Patrol agents of people trying to smuggle drugs in via (ph) helicopter (ph) and this happened to be in a more rural area and the chopper had to leave to go refuel. And so, we've got people risking their lives out there to stop the trafficking of drugs into our country. And that's dangerous.

And so it's dangerous here. I mean, there's no other way to look at it. And that's why these folks need more resources and more agents to help them. And that's what we're providing.

They're lighting (ph) up and down this part of the border. We're going to use drones to be able to help enforce the border in rural Texas and in rural New Mexico and rural Arizona.

See, it's one thing to add agents. But if you look at the size of this border, you can't add enough agents. What you've got to do is get technology in the hands of the agents so they can better do their job.

Slowly, but surely, technology is being employed up and down the border. And that's a key part of our strategy, as well as physical barriers.

You see a physical barrier right here. This is good for an urban environment. As you head out into the rural parts of the world, there are other types of physical barriers we can use, such as impediments to vehicular traffic, or berming, which is precisely what our strategy is.

We've got a comprehensive strategy that says we're going to enforce this border, we're going to prevent people from coming in here in the first place.

When we catch people -- and by the way, since 2001, our Border Patrol have apprehended 4.5 million people illegally coming into the country.

But we've got to end catch and release. In other words, we've got to end this program, particularly for non-Mexican illegal immigrants. This business about catching people and then letting them back out into society, it's not fair to those who are working hard. It's not fair to the American people. We're ending the practice.

And we've got to have better interior enforcement of a guest worker plan that is not amnesty. It's a very important part of the plan.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the resignation of Congressman Cunningham and the charges that were brought against him?

BUSH: Any member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, must take their office seriously and the ethics seriously. The idea of a congressman taking money is outrageous. And Congressman Cunningham is going to realize that he has broken the law and is going to pay a serious price -- which he should.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) they going to be an investigating the allegations (inaudible) terrorist detention centers abroad. Don't the American people deserve an accounting of why these places exist and what's being done there? BUSH: The United States of America does not torture. And that's important for people around the world to understand.

QUESTION: Will we ever see a wall here on the boarder?

BUSH: You've got a fence here on the border. You're going to have a virtual fence on the border when we bring technology to bear: infrared, cameras, drones. And you've got some of the finest Americans in our country enforcing the border.

Ours is a nation of law. People should not be allowed to break the law. And so one of the ways to make sure we have a rational border control policy is to make work legal -- not amnesty, but work -- legal, on a temporary basis.

People ought to be given a tamper-proof work card to come here and do jobs Americans won't do and then, after a set period of time, go home. And that's what we're going to work with Congress about, a comprehensive plan that'll make it easier for these good folks to do their job, which is enforce the border of the United States.

Listen, thank you all.