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Pope Meets With Iraqi Leaders; U.N. Security Council Split On Response To Myanmar Coup, Violence; Oprah's Interview With Harry And Meghan. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired March 6, 2021 - 00:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone, I am Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.

Now one of the most notable events of Pope Francis' historic trip to Iraq is just moments away. This hour he is set to arrive for a meeting with the country's leading Shia cleric, the grand ayatollah, Ali al- Sistani in his home at the holy city of Najaf.

Now the pope touched down in Baghdad Friday, held meetings with the country's president and prime minister. He also made a plea for the end of violence and discrimination at a church where dozens of Iraqi Christians were massacred in 2010.

Now it's a big deal because he's the first pope to ever visit Iraq. Ben Wedeman follows the story for us. He has more on how the trip has gone so far and what is coming up next.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iraq put on a colorful welcome for Pope Francis on this, the first ever papal visit here. Security is tight and a 3-day total curfew is in place.

While most Iraqis will only be able to see the pope on television, it is a historic moment for a country that, over the last 40 years, has suffered through wars, sanctions and waves of terrorism.

The pope paid a solemn visit to Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation Church, where, in 2010, terrorists massacred 58 worshippers, priests and guards.

Saturday, the emphasis will be on interfaith dialogue when he meets with the grand ayatollah, Ali al-Sistani, one of Shia Islam's leading authorities. He then goes to the ruins of the biblical city of Ur, birthplace of the patriarch Abraham, revered by Muslims, Christians and Jews.

On Sunday he's off the northern Iraq, including Mosul, where he'll be praying in a church destroyed by ISIS when it occupied the city.


HOLMES: Ben Wedeman reporting there.

Police and military forces in Myanmar are showing more willingness to shoot and kill pro-democracy protesters. At least 55 people have reportedly been killed since the coup last month. Protesters pleading for international help.


HOLMES (voice-over): Those are voices of demonstrators in Yangon, yelling, "Invoke R2P, immediately return to peace," there talking about the United Nations' responsibility to protect people from genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Many countries condemning the latest violence from Myanmar's military junta and the coup that started it all. But the U.N. Security Council still very divided on how to act. Richard Roth reports.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: While government forces continue to shoot and kill protesters on the streets of Myanmar, at the U.N. in New York there is more talk. The Security Council received a briefing from a special envoy for Myanmar.

She said, how much more are we going to allow the Myanmar military to get away with?

The envoy said the people of Myanmar are losing hope that the United Nations and the international community will come to their aid.

The problem for the Security Council, the big powers once again divided. China and Russia think Myanmar remains an internal matter that should not have any interference from the outside world while the U.S. and other Western countries think it may be time to threaten sanctions, or even arms embargo as urged by human rights groups and human rights investigators.

The U.K. ambassador, the only diplomat to agree to talk to the media after the meeting, left us with this to say.


BARBARA WOODWARD, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We are in discussion with council partners about a council product. But we think it is very important that the council is able to speak with one voice, that we can call for an end to violence, the release of those arbitrarily detained and a return to democracy.


ROTH: China, in a press statement after the meeting, said it favors peaceful negotiations between all the parties and Myanmar and urged outside forces not escalate tensions in the country.


Plus the Security Council looks poised to adopt a statement next week but with little teeth in it -- Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Earlier I spoke with Simon Adams, executive director of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect. He believes the military didn't understand how unpopular their coup would be. And he thinks protesters are not about to give up.


SIMON ADAMS, GLOBAL CENTER FOR THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT: Clearly people are not going to accept this, and which again puts so much pressure on the international community to not just look the other way, to not just pretend this isn't happening or to issue statements of concern but to actually do things, like impose arms embargo, targeted sanctions, refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.


HOLMES: That was Simon Adams. And there'll be more of our conversation with him in about an hour a half or so from now.

The European Union has a message for coronavirus vaccine makers: honor your contracts. Italy is defending its decision to block AstraZeneca doses from being exported to Australia, criticizing the company for not delivering on its contracts in Europe.

And now the European Commission is calling on vaccine makers to step up. Those vaccines can't come soon enough. Germany says 40 percent of new COVID-19 cases are linked to the variant first found in the U.K.

It also says other concerning mutations are on the rise. Now the one that has the U.K. worried right now is a variant first detected in Brazil. The health secretary says authorities have found a 6th person with that strain.


MATT HANCOCK, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: We've successfully identified the person in question. The best evidence is that this person in question stay at home. And there is no sign that there's been any onward transmission. But as a precaution, we are putting more testing in in Croydon, where they live, to minimize the risk of spread.


HOLMES: Meanwhile the spread of cases is overwhelming hospitals in Brazil. The outbreak there one of the worst in the world. And while other countries realize the benefits of lockdowns, vaccinations and masks, things are growing much worse in Brazil. Shasta Darlington reports.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hospitals bursting at the seams. Medical staff pushed to the brink. With each minute that passes, one person dies of coronavirus in Brazil as new infections soar to record levels.

GOV. JOAO DORIA, SAO PAULO: The health system in Brazil is on the verge of collapse. ICU beds are missing. There is no national coordination to combat the pandemic in Brazil.


DARLINGTON (voice-over): In an interview with CNN, the governor of Sao Paulo painted a grim picture after Wednesday saw more coronavirus deaths than any other day of the pandemic. He puts Brazil's largest state on lockdown in what he calls phase red. It is a move the country's president is fiercely against.

"Stop this fussing and whining," Jair Bolsonaro told Brazilians Thursday .

"How long will you keep crying?" he said, criticizing coronavirus restrictions.

Last week he threatened to cut off emergency aid to states that resort to lockdown measures, as their hospitals, meanwhile, begin to buckle. More than a third of states are reporting ICU beds at 90 percent capacity or above.

It comes as a second wave of infections surges across Brazil, which the country's health minister largely blames on a coronavirus variant first discovered in the northern Brazilian city of Manaus, which has now spread across the world.

But it also comes after large gatherings and parties during Carnival festivities last month.

GONZALO VECINA NETO, SAO PAULO UNIVERSITY (through translator): Yes, we are going through the worst scenario of the pandemic since its start. You just have to the look at the trend of the average number of deaths. This could have been avoided and the most important factor is gatherings.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): So far, Brazil's attempts to roll out COVID vaccinations have been patchy at best. After repeated delays and political infighting, many are finding it nearly impossible to get inoculated.

LUCIANA, SAO PAULO RESIDENT (through translator): There are lines. On Saturday, the line was 8 hours long.

WALDIRIS, SAO PAULO RESIDENT (through translator): Everyone is afraid. The vaccination needs to be faster. It's taking too long.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): Less than 4 percent of the population has been vaccinated with only 1 percent receiving the necessary two doses to get fully immunized. The health minister says 138 million more doses can be expected by May, months away, as many continue to die each day in Brazil's coronavirus pandemic -- Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.


HOLMES: And do be sure to tune in about two hours from now.


HOLMES: I will talk with an expert who says life in Brazil during this pandemic is like living through the siege of Stalingrad in World War II. He's a doctor, an expert and in the middle of all of it. Join me for that.

The latest in the saga involving the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the British monarchy is playing out this weekend. Oprah Winfrey's exclusive interview with Harry and Meghan airs on Sunday. It is expected to chip away at the royal family mystique as did that sensational 1990 BBC interview with Princess Diana. Max Foster with more.


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: The drip, drip of teasers and clips ahead of this highly anticipated interview, which is due to be broadcasted in the U.S. on Sunday night, continues. In the latest clip released, the duchess describes how she was unable to accept an interview invitation like this while she was part of the royal family.

Only now she is able to speak freely, having been freed from all the restrictions of being a member of the British monarchy.


MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: I remember that conversation very well. I wasn't even allowed to have that conversation with you personally. Right?

There had to be people from the -- sitting there, everything was --


OPRAH WINFREY, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: There were other people in the room when I was having that conversation.


WINFREY: You turned me down nicely and said perhaps there will be a another time when there is the right time.

What is right about this time?

MEGHAN: The ability to make our own choices in a way that I couldn't have said yes to then. That wasn't my choice to make. So as an adult, who lived a really independent life, to then go into this construct that is different than I think what people imagine it to be, it is really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege, in some ways, to be able to say yes.


FOSTER: Buckingham Palace has not commented on this latest clip as they haven't commented on other clips. They're probably waiting to see the full 2-hour interview, like the rest of us are on Sunday night.

This interview is part of the Sussex re-brand since they left their senior royal roles and relocated to America. As far as that strategy is concerned, this is all been a success because more people are being drawn into all the intrigue and the buildup to this interview. So more people are going to be watching this part of their re-brand -- Max Foster, CNN, Hampshire, England.


HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes, I will see you a little bit later on with more CNN NEWSROOM. Meanwhile, stay tuned for "MARKETPLACE AFRICA."