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Your World Today

American Hostage Jill Carroll Freed; Mohamed ElBaradei: Iran Sanctions Would Be a 'Bad Idea'; U.S., Canada Ban Contacts With Hamas- Led Government

Aired March 30, 2006 - 12:00   ET


JILL CARROLL, FREED HOSTAGE: All I can say right now is that I'm just happy to be free. I was treated very well. It's important people know that, that I was not harmed.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For one U.S. journalist, three months in captivity in Iraq end in freedom.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Diplomats meet in Berlin as time ticks away on Iran's nuclear program.

MANN: And in Australia, battening down the hatches yet again.

It's 1:00 in western Australia, 7:00 p.m. in Berlin.

I'm Jonathan Mann.

VERJEE: And I'm Zain Verjee.

A warm welcome to our viewers throughout the world and in the United States.

This is CNN International and YOUR WORLD TODAY.

A peaceful end to almost three months of captivity for an American journalist in Iraq.

MANN: A peaceful end and a happy one. Jill Carroll says she is happy to be free and is looking forward to being back with her family.

Carroll was released unharmed, saying she was held in isolation but was treated very well. She also said she was kept in the dark about events in the outside world. In her first interview at the Sunni Iraqi Islamic party headquarters, Carroll talked about her ordeal.


CARROLL: All I can say right now is that I'm just happy to be free. I was treated very well. That's important people know that, that I was not harmed.

They never said they were hit me. Never threatened me in any way. And I'm just happy to be free and want to be with my family.

They didn't tell me what was going on. They would come, bring me my food. I would eat. It was fine. I would go to the bathroom. But I was not allowed...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you feel that you are a far distance from Baghdad?

CARROLL: I really don't know where I was. The room had a window, but the glass was -- you know, you can't see, and it's curtains. And you couldn't hear any sound.

So I would sit in the room. If I had to take a shower, I walk two feet, you know, to the next door, take a shower, go to the bathroom, come back. That's all. So I don't know what -- where I was or what was going on.


MANN: Nearly three months as a prisoner and she didn't even know where.

Carroll's family had asked the media to respect its privacy as they prepare to welcome her home now. Still, just a few minutes ago, Jill Carroll's father made this statement outside his home.


JIM CARROLL, JILL CARROLL'S FATHER: It was a fantastic conversation, obviously. We're feeling ecstatic. It's been a long haul and we're done with it now.

And we want to make sure all of us thank the people that helped and make sure all of you in the media, particularly, don't forget the other American hostages and other hostages of all nationalities still being held in Iraq. There's several of them.

Jeff Ake comes to mind, who's been there almost a year now. Those people still need that support and they need the coverage to make sure that their loved ones can come home and they can enjoy this day that we're having.


VERJEE: So, how did Carroll's release come about? Who negotiated her freedom? Did someone pay a ransom? There are so many questions.

Let's talk to our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, who joins us from Baghdad to go over them.

Nic, how did this happen? The U.S. military is saying that it wasn't involved in her release.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are some details that we know. We know from the Iraqi Islamic Party, which is the party that Jill was turned over to, that she walked into their office at about 12:15, just around about noon today on the western outskirts of Baghdad. That office saw her come in, they didn't know who she was, thought she worked for a women's organization.

She gave them some papers written in Arabic that said that she was journalist Jill Carroll. They immediately called their political leader. He got involved, had her taken to their headquarters, Tariq Hashami (ph). We've seen him on television today giving -- giving Jill some gifts, a Koran and some other things.

He then called -- once he had seen Jill, he then called the U.S. ambassador here, Zalmay Khalilzad. And the ambassador said that he got that call around about 1:00 today. And by 14:28, by 2:28 in the afternoon, according to Mr. Hashami (ph), Jill was delivered over to U.S. embassy officials.

So, we don't know exactly how she was able to get out of the building she was in and walk into that Iraqi Islamic Party office on the outskirts of Baghdad. But once she was there, then she was in, as we were told at the time, in the right hands. Later transferred to safe hands -- Zain.

VERJEE: When will she be reunited with her family?

ROBERTSON: That's really not clear. The ambassador has said that absolutely the embassy staff will do whatever she wants.

If she wants to meet with the press, they'll help facilitate that. If she wants to immediately go home, they will help facilitate that.

They said they're committed to trying to reunite her as speedily as possible. What we do know is, at this stage, at least, that right now we believe she is still in Baghdad -- Zain.

VERJEE: And she still says also that she doesn't know to this day why she was kidnapped.

ROBERTSON: No. That -- that remains unclear to her.

Obviously, though, she will have very, very many questions at this stage, as there are many questions being asked about her release. And Mr. Khalilzad was asked -- Ambassador Khalilzad was asked about that. He was asked if Jill had been debriefed yet by intelligence officials.

That was a few hours ago. He said, no, that hadn't happened, they would take things at her pace, do things the way she wanted to do.

So no doubt she has many questions. But also, officials here have a lot of questions, and very specifically about how she was able to win her freedom -- Zain.

VERJEE: And such fantastic news that she was able to do that, but we have to remember, also, on a day like this, when so many people are celebrating and there are a lot of smiles and tears of joy, that there are also a lot of other hostages being held. A lot of Iraqis being held that don't get this kind of attention.

ROBERTSON: Indeed. And if one looks at the events here over the past few weeks, it seems that hostage-taking has really become a criminal activity, or an activity, at least, that is taking off.

In the last few weeks, a lot of people have been -- a lot of Iraqis have been kidnapped. Yesterday, there were three different incidents of kidnapping where gunmen in military and police uniforms went into stores in the center of Baghdad two days ago and took, in one case, 10 people from one store, six from another store.

Ad we heard the editor-in-chief from "Christian Science Monitor," who Jill Carroll was working for when she was kidnapped, say that we shouldn't forget, that people shouldn't forget the 30 or 40 people he said every day were being kidnapped in Iraq. And we've heard her family as well talk about the other Americans who are still being held here.

So, clearly, the family, her employers, and the embassy here in Baghdad, as well, the U.S. Embassy, wanting people to remember there are other people still out there being -- who are kidnapped and being held, and in particular a lot of Iraqis -- Zain.

VERJEE: CNN's senior international correspondent reporting to us on a good day with some good news from Baghdad.

Nic Robertson, thanks.

MANN: Not to overlook the others who are being held, but U.S. President George W. Bush is relieved that Jill Carroll, at least, was released. This is what he said in Cancun, Mexico, where he is attending a summit of North American leaders.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank god. Just really grateful she's released. And I want to thank those who worked hard to release her. And we're glad she's alive.


VERJEE: We want to go now to our "Question of the Day."

MANN: With hostages so often in the news, today we're asking, if you were offered a chance to work in Iraq today, would you go?

E-mail your thoughts to us at

VERJEE: Try and keep your comments brief, if you will, and don't forget also to tell us your name and where you are writing us from so we can share as many e-mails as we can on the air.

MANN: Another very big story that's being watched around the world, the clock is running on Iran's nuclear program. Foreign ministers from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany say they hope Iran will choose negotiation rather than isolation.

VERJEE: They met in Berlin to talk about the Security Council's unanimous call on Wednesday for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment.

MANN: Iran's ambassador to the U.N. insists his country has an inalienable right to conduct nuclear energy research.

VERJEE: Diplomats in Berlin, though, say they have no problem with that, but many fear Iran's ultimate goal is nuclear weapons.

MANN: One more important voice in all of this. The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog chief says Iran proposes no immediate threat. Mohamed ElBaradei says that imposing any sanctions on Iran would be a "bad idea." He made the comments in Qatar.

For more on the dispute, we bring in our senior U.N. correspondent, Richard Roth.

Mohamed ElBaradei, at least, doesn't seem to be liking where this is going.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, the IAEA, the leader of that agency, has not been a fan of sanctions, never has been, really, unless absolutely necessary. It's not really his job. It's going to be up to the Security Council. But because the IAEA is hoping Iran comes back to the negotiating table, certainly Mohamed ElBaradei is not going to be seeking sanctions at this time.

The foreign ministers, plus Germany, the big five foreign ministers, meeting in Berlin today. They had their ambassadors yesterday at the Security Council, of course, in New York, produce the first international reaction in this Iran nuclear crisis of sorts. So, they got that out of the way, and now they can talk strategy on the way forward.

Germany's foreign minister appealed to Iran to negotiate a solution.


FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): If Iran takes this route of cooperation, then I'm sure that we will be able to have constructive negotiations. And we and the Security Council have made it quite clear that we are not questioning Iran's right to peaceful use of nuclear energy. What we want to do is to create confidence that it will use nuclear energy for purely peaceful purposes.


ROTH: Yesterday, Iran's U.N. ambassador said that his country is immune to threats. I asked U.S. Ambassador John Bolton today his reaction to that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Well, I think we would like to see a definitive response from Iran that says they will comply with the terms of the presidential statement. And that would be a significant step forward. But other than that, Iran is expert in trying to throw sand in our eyes, and I'm sure we will see some of that, too. So we'll wait for the definitive result.


ROTH: So, the Security Council will await a report from Mohamed ElBaradei's International Atomic Energy Agency in 30 days or so, and that will be the first test of Iran's interest in cooperating with the desires of the international community as stated by the full 15-nation Security Council yesterday -- Jonathan.

MANN: Now, Richard, you say it was the full 15-nation council. Did they have a hard time agreeing on this statement? It took several weeks, and I gather the text was weaker that at least Washington would have liked.

ROTH: It was a bruising battle, and usually the statements agreed to by the 15 nations are easy -- easy to be decided on, but it took weeks. And they had to drop language. The British ambassador admitted that, yes, they gave up on language that -- to get China and Russia on board, language they would have liked to have had. That language could come back, though, if there is a lack of cooperation.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, after the Berlin meeting, of course, telling reporters sanctions is always a possibility. That would take a resolution, something China and Russia bitterly opposed to at this point, the idea of punitive measures. China has business interests in Iran, and there's a lot of other complicating factors.

MANN: OK. Richard Roth at the U.N.

Thanks very much.

Stay with us here on YOUR WORLD TODAY. Iran's ambassador to the U.N., Javad Zarif, talks about how his country will respond to the ultimatum by the U.N. Security Council on its nuclear program. We'll have that interview for you in about 20 minutes from now -- Zain.

VERJEE: Jonathan, a United Nations-backed court in Sierra Leone holding former Liberian president Charles Taylor wants a war crimes trial moved to The Hague. Taylor was captured and brought to Sierra Leone on Wednesday. The chief prosecutor, Desmond De Silva, says Taylor will appear before a U.N.-backed court on Friday. But a trial in Sierra Leone might never even begin.


DESMOND DE SILVA, CHIEF PROSECUTOR: His lawyers will say that the prosecution have had two years to prepare their case against Charles Taylor, and therefore he needs many months in order to prepare his defense. As a consequence of which we are talking about a trial many, many months away.


VERJEE: The Dutch government says the request to change the trial venue must meet three key conditions. The U.N. Security Council has to pass a resolution to hold the trial in the Netherlands. Charles Taylor must leave the Netherlands after his trial, and Sierra Leone must negotiate with the court in The Hague to ensure the necessary facilities are available to host the trial.

Coming up, two new governments, two new leaders dealing with the same old problems.

MANN: As both Israelis and Palestinians swear in new members of government, how will it affect the path to peace? A new beginning or a dead end? The new landscape just ahead.


VERJEE: Welcome back to CNN International.

MANN: First, Iraq, then Iran.

A lot of our big stories today are coming from the Middle East. And another. For example, the first full day of what may be a new era in Palestinian politics.

VERJEE: Hamas now runs the government. The party's nominees for the new cabinet were sworn in on Wednesday.

MANN: The U.S. reaffirmed its ban on diplomatic and business contacts with Hamas, and Canada has announced it also is banning contact with the new government and cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority.

VERJEE: As Bill Schneider reports, these developments came as signs pointed to a dim future.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): A new Palestinian government is sworn in, led by Hamas, a party that has never held power before. A new Israeli government is elected, led by Kadima, a party that didn't exist six months ago. Hamas leaders say they want a period of peace.

AZIZ AL-DUAIK, PALESTINIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER: I think this government is meaning, really, to put an end to any kind of bloodshed.

SCHNEIDER: Israel's new leader also talks of peace.

EHUD OLMERT, ACTING ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): To live in a state in peace and quiet.

SCHNEIDER: The vote in Israel showed that confidence in the old alternatives has collapsed. The status quo, continuing occupation, doesn't work, in the view of most Israelis.

That message was conveyed by the crushing defeat of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party. Peace negotiations? Israel says it can't talk peace with Hamas. The Israeli Labor Party still holds out hope for negotiations. But Labor, which came in second, did not run on that issue.

Israelis believe the security fence is working. So, Ehud Olmert said he would turn the fence into a border, unilaterally. The voters' response: OK. We will try it.

OLMERT (through translator): We are prepared to compromise, give up parts of our beloved land of Israel, painfully remove Jews who live there.

SCHNEIDER: The Palestinians insist that Israel renounce unilateralism before peace negotiations can take place.

MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT: We hope that he will change this policy from the unilateral stage to negotiating stage.

SCHNEIDER: The Israelis insist that the Palestinians renounce violence before negotiations can take place -- two new governments, each insisting that the other must change.

(on camera): The United States favors negotiations, not unilateral action. But with a fresh, new mandate for its policy, the Israeli government hopes the U.S., too, will change.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Jerusalem.


MANN: A detail in all of this, and maybe more than a detail, many of the new Palestinian ministers has to participate in the swearing in ceremony by video hookup because Israel won't let Hamas members travel between Gaza and the West Bank. The man who performed the ceremony, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, says Hamas will have to shed its militant image and come to terms with the Middle East peace process if the new government is to succeed.


MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): This government may succeed if it develops its political position, if it adopts position called for by the United States, by Europe, and by me, if it commits to the international agreements we have signed with the rest of the world, particularly the Oslo Accords and the roadmap. We call on them to abide by these agreements so they can become acceptable to the international community.


MANN: Now, for the record, Hamas is observing what it calls a cease-fire, but it refuses to renounce violence. And the U.S. and the European Union still consider it a terrorist group.

VERJEE: The numbers from the world financial markets when we come back.

MANN: Also ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY, U.S. President Bush has traveled south to Mexico to discuss, among other things, all those people crossing the border heading the other way.

Stay with us.


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta. More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in a few minutes. But first, let's check on stories making headlines here in the U.S.

Out of the hands of captors. American journalist Jill Carroll is safely nestled at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad at this hour.

This is video of her just after her release. She says she's in good health and was treated well. Just minutes ago, her mother issued a statement through a family spokesman.


PETER ALONZI, CARROLL FAMILY SPOKESMAN: My cousin, Mary Beth Carroll, Jill's mother, and all our family are really delighted, thrilled and ecstatic that Jill has been released. The family will not grant interviews until Jill is safely back in the U.S.

But Mary Beth sends this message: "I would like to thank the press, all my family and friends, Reporters Without Borders, and the Iraqi people for their love and support these past 12 weeks. I would also like to thank those many people here and in Iraq who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes for Jill's release. In particular, I owe a debt of gratitude that I will never be able to repay to the "Christian Science Monitor."


KAGAN: Less than an hour ago, her father voiced his elation at his daughter's release. Jim Carroll said the family has not yet finalized reunion plans.

The sole survivor of the Sago Mine disaster goes home. Randy McCloy, Jr. has been called the "Miracle Miner." Earlier this morning, he was discharged from a hospital in West Virginia, nearly three months after 12 of his fellow miners died in the Sago Mine.

McCloy's wife spoke of their joy and their sorrow.


ANNA MCCLOY, WIFE OF MINE SURVIVOR: Our family's glad to be going home. Today is another part of our miracle, just three months after the accident. However, there are 12 families who are in our thoughts and prayers today and every day. The families of Randy's coworkers and friends are celebrating with us today, just as we continue to mourn with them. Please keep all of those in your thoughts and prayers.


KAGAN: And then came comments from the man himself, who had survived more than 40 hours trapped underground with breathing only poisoned air.


RANDY MCCLOY, SAGO MINE DISASTER SURVIVOR: I would just like to thank everybody for their thoughts and prayers. I believe that's it.


KAGAN: Few words, but his appearance before the cameras says it all.

To Tennessee now, where a preacher's wife accused of gunning down her husband is being held without bail today. In court today, Mary Winkler waived her right to a preliminary hearing. Police say she has confessed to killing her husband but she has not entered a plea.

Winkler's lawyer says he's concerned about his client's mental state. The case now goes to a grand jury, which will determine if there is enough evidence to support the murder charge against Winkler. So far, no word on a motive.

We have an update for you on a closely-watched same-sex marriage case. As you might remember, Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage. A couple hours ago, the state's highest court ruled that couples from other states will not be allowed to marry in Massachusetts.

Hundreds of gay couples from other states have flocked to Massachusetts to marry. Today's decision puts the legal status of those marriages in question.

It is spring break, and President Bush is in Cancun, Mexico. But Mr. Bush has promised you will not catch him in a Speedo. Just a loose Hawaiian shirt today.

He is there for a North American summit. Right now, he is playing tourist, visiting the Mayan ruins of Chechen Itza. Later, he gets down to serious business with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canada's new prime minister, Stephen Harper.


BUSH: This is a good start to a very important series of discussions. It is an honor to be here with the prime minister of Canada, as well. We've got vital relations that will matter to the future of our people, and I look forward... (END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: Immigration, border security and trade all drive this summit, and they drive Lou Dobbs as he continues to press his "mend America's broken borders." Join "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" live from Cancun summit beginning at 6:00 Eastern.

A chance of some severe weather in the Midwest. Bonnie Schneider is watching that for us -- Bonnie.


KAGAN: "LIVE FROM" comes your way at the top of the hour.

Meanwhile, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a quick break.

I'm Daryn Kagan.


MANN: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Jonathan Mann.

VERJEE: And I'm Zain Verjee. From CNN Center, here are the top stories.

The U.N. court in the Hague says it would accept the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor under certain conditions. Taylor was transferred into the custody a U.N.-backed court in Siera Leone on Wednesday. He's charged with supporting a brutal war in Sierra Leone 1991 to 2002.

MANN: An American journalist kidnapped in Iraq nearly three months ago has been freed. Jill Carroll said she was treated well and that she is looking forward to being reunited with family. During her first interview, Carroll described her ordeal.


JILL CARROLL, FORMER HOSTAGE: Very good treatment. Very good treatment. I was kept in very good, small, safe place, a safe room. Nice furniture. They gave me clothes, plenty of food, I was allowed to take showers, go to the bathroom when I wanted. Very good. Never hit me, never even threatened to hit me.


VERJEE: Officials of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, have urged Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment. But the senior Iranian envoy rejected the call. The diplomats met in Berlin just a day after the U.N. Security Council gave Iran 30 days to -- or -- and a period of time therein to suspend its uranium enrichment.

MANN: Meanwhile, International Atomic Energy Agency chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, said Iran poses no immediate threat, that and imposing any sanctions would be a bad idea. For his part, South African president Thabo Mbeki called for a "sensible handling" of the issue to avert another conflict in the region.

For Iran's perspective on all of this, we go now to Javad Zarif, Iranian ambassador the United Nations.

Ambassador, thanks so much for being with us. First, it was the U.N. Security Council. Now in Berlin, the most powerful nations in the world are calling on your government to stop uranium enrichment and allow the IAEA inspectors free and unfettered access to your nuclear program. Will your government comply?

JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Well, the position of Iran has been very clear from the very beginning. Iran is committed to its obligations under the NPT. Iran, from an ideological as well strategic standpoint, does not want nuclear weapons, does not believe that nuclear weapons augment its security.

At the same time, Iran believes that the NPT regime has to be sustained through respect of the rights of its member states, so that the rights and benefits would outweigh the cost of being a member. Iran has cooperated with the IAEA within the terms of its agreements with the IAEA, and it will continue to do so. We want the IAEA...

MANN: Forgive me for interrupting, because on that very point, the IAEA doesn't agree. As recently as Saturday, the director general of the IAEA said something very clearly. He said, "The fact that the program was conducted so long in secret and particularly that important aspects of it have not been clarified" -- I'm quoting Mohamed ElBaradei here -- "has created a confidence deficit." Confidence deficit. That's a polite way of saying the IAEA doesn't trust Iran and your government is to blame.

ZARIF: Well, in fact, it's a question of what led to what. First of all, there has been three years, over 1,700 person (ph) days of inspection in Iran. And if you want to believe any of the stories about 18 years of concealment, and if Iran had any ulterior motives in those 18 years of concealment, at least an iota of evidence would have been found in order to show that Iran had any intention other than developing a peaceful program. Report after report...

MANN: Well, there was -- there was more than an iota of evidence. There was the construction of a secret enrichment plant, which was revealed well after construction was under way. There is some evidence, sir.

ZARIF: No, enrichment plant has nothing to do with a bomb. And the enrichment plant did not have to be transparent, did not have to be reported to the IAEA because Iran was not under any obligation to report any of its activities to the IAEA 180 days before introduction of uranium.

And as you very well know, introduction of uranium to the Natanse (ph) project did not occur until very recently. So, a lot of hype has been created about this. There have been some reporting failures, and the IAEA's director general has been very clear in saying that Iran has taken the necessary collective measures in order to rectify those failures. The same IAEA... MANN: The director general of IAEA is still calling on Iran to take the measures that he wants. It was, after all, the IAEA, with the support of the director general, that referred the matter to the security council. But it's not just -- let me just ask you to move away from the IAEA, to move to Russia.

Russia, for example, is a friendly government to Tehran. It is the Russians, after all, who are helping Iran build its own nuclear plant. And yet the Russians signed on to this presidential statement by the Security Council. The Russian foreign minister said earlier this month that he is disappointed with Iran's negotiations in all of this, and that Iran is making it hard for even its friends to resolve this matter peacefully.

ZARIF: No, let's look at the realities and let's not talk about rhetoric. What is clear is that Russia and many other members of the Security Council continue to believe this issue belongs to the IAEA, this is a technical issue.

It's a matter that they -- as you have quoted, the director general of the IAEA is not a threat to international peace and security that would require involvement of the Security Council. In fact, statements that are being made against Iran, very clearly threatening Iran by a number of countries, are issues that should be dealt with by the Security Council.

Iran's nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. We want to cooperate with the IAEA and...

MANN: On that very note, if Iran wants to cooperate, why not do exactly what the IAEA is asking? Suspend enrichment and let inspectors in for intrusive inspections? If Iran has nothing to hide and wants to stop these threats that you object to, why not just prove your critics wrong?

ZARIF: Well, in the past two and a half, three years, Iran has, in fact, for two of the three years, suspended every activity, cooperated fully with the IAEA and report after report of the IAEA indicated that.

Unfortunately, some of the things that the IAEA have said about Iran has not received as much attention as some of the other things that have been quoted out of context, like the fact that last week a senior IAEA official was quoted as saying that people who are picking up these bits and pieces and misleading the public are looking for crisis rather than solution.

Iran is committed to a solution. Iran wants to find a solution. But Iran, at the same time, insists on the exercise of its rights because we believe that the NPT regime, sand for that matter any international regime, cannot be sustained through pressure. International regimes should be sustained through a balance between rights and obligations of member states so that benefits on membership would outweigh the cost.

MANN: Fair enough. So that having been said, why not just let the IAEA do its work the way it wants?

ZARIF: Well, the IAEA has been doing its work for the past three years in Iran almost non-stop. Every day of the past three years almost, I said, 1,700 person days of inspection in Iraq -- that would mean in the past three years, at least an inspector has been in Iran on average every single day inspecting Iranian facilities and they continue to do that.

We have allowed them to even go beyond our obligations under the safe parts (ph) argument, beyond the additional protocol and inspect military sites in order to assess the baseless allegations that have been -- sort of being systematically raised by...

MANN: Your government did all of that during two and a half years of careful negotiations with the EU3, with the three European powers who have been so involved. And then your government, essentially, scuttled whatever progress it was making by closing down and resuming enrichment. What the world is asking now is for you to open up again and stop enrichment. Just go back to the way things were and move away from crisis.

ZARIF: No, unfortunately -- again, you're simply reciting one side of the story. The negotiations -- we have conducted the negotiations in good faith. Proposal after proposal has been made by Iran. The reason those negotiations did not produce any result was that the United States never wanted those negotiations to succeed. It stated it from the very beginning that it wanted this issue brought to the Security Council. It simply changed its tactic.

But the point is, after proposals that had been made by Iran, the European Three came with a demand from Iran to take a legal commitment not to do anything other than a simple nuclear reactor -- that is, to abandon its right under the NPT. And I don't think the European Three were in a position to make that demand from Iraq.


ZARIF: But the point is that Iran is...

MANN: Can I jump in and maybe explain...

ZARIF: ... ready for negotiations.

MANN: ... to you -- can I explain to you what the underlying issue is here. In fact, I don't need to explain it to you. You know that so many powerful countries, or at least a handful of powerful countries, do not trust your government.

ZARIF: We don't trust them, either.

MANN: They see Iran's hand in the construction of bombs and IEDs in Iraq. They see you building long-range missiles that could, in theory, bring weapons of mass destruction. They see your government supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon and terrorist groups operating out of the Palestinian areas. And I don't have to tell you this, but just to remind us all., here's what President Bush had to say about his concern, not that long ago.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: The Iranian president has stated his desire to destroy our ally, Israel. So, when you start listening to what he has said to their desire to develop a nuclear weapon, then you begin to see an issue of grave national security concern.


ZARIF: Well, we all do respect, every single element of that statement is erroneous. Iran has never threatened any country. In fact, Iran has been on the receiving end of threats by Israel and the United States. And unfortunately the Security Council has failed to exercise its responsibility in order to address those very serious and clear threats of resort to force, which is in violation of the charter of the United Nations. Iran...


MANN: It's a matter of record. I think even you know that President Ahmadinejad called publicly for Israel to be wiped off the map. In a country that has a history of deception of its nuclear program. People are nervous with that kind of talk.

ZARIF: Let's move together. Iran has never called -- has never threatened to use force against any other member of the United Nations. Iran in the past 250 years has never resorted to force. It has been the subject of use of force, aggression and the use of chemical weapons. It has not retaliated. Iran is a member of the NPT. Iran is a member of other international instruments.

Not a single statement of this sort can be claimed by Israel. Israel has been an aggressive power, which has taken, developed a nuclear stockpile, which resolution after the resolution of the international community condemned.

And it is in fact ironic that Israel has been the lead agitator in this process, and it tells you a lot about this.

But the point is, Iran has as many complaints and problems with the policies that have been adopted by the United States. In fact, the policies that have been developed by the United States are not seen in very positive light anywhere across the world. And...

MANN: Can I ask you a question about the United States? Because there is an issue that you both have in common, I think, that you would like to see resolve easily, and that is the unrest in Iraq. There are to be talks, though they haven't really been scheduled. Where do things stand on that?

ZARIF: Well, we have accepted a request that came from the United States some time ago, after Iraqi political leaders requested us to accept that. And we are in the process of working out the modalities and the procedures for those talks, and I believe that anything that Iran can do in order to help stability, democracy and return to normalcy in Iraq, as well as withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq, which, in our view, was the source of all of these difficulties in Iraq, and continues to be the source of difficulties.

Anything that can lead to these activities and these objectives in a peaceful way, Iran is prepared to participate in that. And our acceptance of the request by the United States to enter into discussions with the U.S. indicates our readiness to play a very constructive role in this regard.

MANN: Let me just ask you one last practical question then -- who would your government put forward, and how soon could it happen? Could it happen, say, next week? And who would go?

ZARIF: Well that's not a decision that I will make, and I do not know whether the government has already made a decision on this.

MANN: Javad Zarif, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, thanks very much for talking with us.

ZARIF: Good to be with you.

MANN: YOUR WORLD TODAY continues right after this.


VERJEE: The French Constitutional Council may stop a controversy in its tracks, or create a new crisis. The counsel's expected to rule on the validity of a youth jobs law within the next couple of hours. More than a people marched in Paris on Tuesday over the issue. Students and unions say that it guts job protection, since employers could fire young younger workers at well. President Jacques Chirac is expected to speak to the nation in less than an hour. Mr. Chirac could sign it into law as soon as Friday.

More than a million people marched in Paris to protests the laws, and more demonstrations are promised. Students and unions says, essentially, it guts job protections since employers, as we said, could fire younger works at will. Prime Minister Dominique De Villepen, though, says that the law will actually reduce youth unemployment, which stands at about 23 percent.

MANN: While the French government has insisted the law is necessary for the country to compete in an era of globalization, we know how French students aren't buying it.

Jim Bittermann takes a closer look now at the battle from both sides.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The French love revolutions, one commentator wrote recently. They just don't like change. And the vast numbers in the streets opposing change to the nation's labor laws bare witness to it. Still, the young revolutionaries who have been leading the charge against authority insist they're not just trying to cling to past privileges.; they want something done to help one young person in four who can't find a job.

Jean-Baptiste Prevost, a fourth-year student at one of the best schools in the country, is on the executive council of one of the largest student unions. He's been on the frontlines of all the demonstrations, and says he'll not give up the fight until the government retreats from its plan to make it easier to hire and fire young people. His goal in life? To become a top-level civil servant with job security and a good salary. And he's pursuing a second degree from Servan (ph) University to try to make it happen.

It's clear from talking to Prevost that a succession of governments have failed to convince him that jobs can be created by easing employment rules for business.

(on camera): You don't see a link between the social protections and the unemployment rate?

JEAN-BAPTISTE PREVOST, STUDENT LEADER: Not at all. Not at all. All the government in France, for 20 years, they have (INAUDIBLE) rights, and at the same time, the unemployment rate have just increased.

BITTERMANN: Still, some French observers have watched in dismay as the demonstrations have grown. They insist that without serious economic reform, France will lag further and further behind.

DOMINIQUE MOISI, FRENCH INST. FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: They are, in a way, revolutionary reactionaries. This is a very strange combination of refusing the world as it is and wanting as much protection from that world.

BITTERMANN: Perhaps, but Prevost rejects the idea that students are misguided in fighting the trends of an increasingly globalized world.

PREVOST: I think that workers in Great Britain in other countries, they would like to have the same social protection that we have in France. I think that if people are misguided, it's an entire country which is misguided.

BITTERMANN (on camera): At the same moment of the massive protests here, OECD, the club of the world's richest nations, issued new statistics indicating that among them France's unemployment rate is about the worst. Said one public opinion pollster, Just about everybody in France knows that something must be done to change things.

They just can't agree on what. Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


VERJEE: It seems as though there is some agreement. We are receiving information that the French Constitutional Council has approved the controversial jobs law. President Jacques Chirac is going to speak shortly, and we'll bring that to you live on CNN.

From the political storm in Paris to the real thing in Eastern Europe.



ANJALI RAO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Glenda began coming ashore in the late afternoon, lashing the Pilbara region of Northwestern Australia with winds topping 130 kilometers per hour.

MEREDITH DICKSON, WESTERN AUSTRALIA GOVT. OFFICIAL: The cyclone is pretty well in full swing here at the moment, and we are trying to encourage people to sort of stay put where they are. It's been really great here, all the players involved with the people here, the departments involved. It's been a really good team effort.

RAO: The cyclone was downgraded from the highest Category 5 to 4 late on Wednesday. But a Category 4 storm still packs a powerful punch. And it's not only winds, but also flooding that worries residents and emergency workers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tummy's a bit -- but we'll get there. We'll be all right.

RAO: Glenda comes on the heels of Cyclone Larry, which devastated towns on Australia's east coast a little more than a week ago. And Glenda isn't only threatening homes. The region is dotted with many of the country's mining operation and oil and gas fields. They were shut down ahead of Glenda's landfall.

Anjali Rao, CNN, Hong Kong.



MANN: Welcome back. Time now to open up our "Inbox." Our question comes after the release of journalist Jill Carroll in Iraq, of course.

VERJEE: We asked you this: If you were offered a chance to work in Iraq today, would you? Here's how some of you replied.

MANN: Andre from Germany writes: "I would love to have a job offer in Iraq." There's a surprising reply, but it continues, "I'm a former U.S. Army soldier of 13 years and was told last year I was too old to sign up again."

VERJEE: One anonymous view said: "I did work in Iraq, and I have repeatedly turned down offers to return. It has remained too dangerous for me to consider returning."

MANN: Mandi from Damascus, Ohio said this: "I would go to Iraq in a heartbeat. As an American, I feel the only way to change the perceptions is by building bridges, one person at a time."

VERJEE: And finally, Taufiq in Geneva says: "The question should be posed to Iraqis, whether they would accept jobs in Iraq. I think a lot of them would love to be employed." for your thoughts.

MANN: We'll have more on Jill Carroll's release, as well as hostages still being held in Iraq.

VERJEE: For our viewers in the United States, "LIVE FROM" with Kyra Phillips is next.

MANN: For everyone else, stay with us. YOUR WORLD TODAY rolls along.