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CNN NEWSROOM

G-7 Members Wrap Up Meeting; Netanyahu Ousted as New Coalition Government is Approved; U.S. Assessing Reported Leak at Chinese Nuclear Power Plant; Christian Eriksen Continues Recovery after Collapse; Olympic Games Set to Kick Off in Six Weeks Despite Opposition; Japan's Minister of Loneliness Appointed to Deal with Mental Health Crisis; U.S. and Russian Presidents Preparing for Face- to-Face Talks; Aung San Suu Kyi Set to Face Trial Today; U.S. President Biden and First Lady Meet Queen in Windsor. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired June 14, 2021 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: President Biden arrives in Brussels for the NATO summit set to begin in just a few hours' time. A look at what is topping his agenda.

[00:00:25]

The end of an era in Israel as Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with the man who'll replace him as Israel's prime minister, Naftali Bennett. We're live in Jerusalem with what comes next.

And then a CNN exclusive. The U.S. government is assessing reports of a possible leak of a Chinese nuclear power plant. Details in a live report from Beijing.

Thanks so much for joining me this hour. I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: U.S. President Joe Biden is preparing for the next appearance in his America back European diplomacy tour, the NATO summit set to begin just a few miles from now.

Mr. Biden arrived in Brussels on Sunday after three days at the G-7 summit in the U.K. Part of his goal in Europe has been to repair relationships frayed by the former U.S. president.

On Sunday, Mr. Biden affirmed his commitment to NATO while alluding to his predecessor's often combative language about the alliance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not view NATO as sort of a protection racket. We believe that NATO is vital to our ability to maintain American security for the next -- next -- remainder of the century.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: The White House says the focus at today's NATO summit will be on what it calls a new strategic concept for dealing with threats, including from Russia and China.

Excuse me. So both nations were a topic at the G-7 summit. I want to go to our Ivan Watson. Ivan joins us now from Hong Kong.

Ivan, hi. Great to see you. So tell us more about what the strategic concept is and the impact where you are.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what the U.S. is bringing to NATO, according to officials from the Biden administration, is that they are bringing China in a way to the alliance that they're arguing perhaps has not been done in the past.

They insist that they don't want to push towards confrontation and conflict, but they do want to get partners to recognize that there's going to be tough competition going forward with China.

And the NATO secretary general, just a couple of weeks ago, repeated a message that he said in the past that -- that China is coming to us. That European countries have to recognize that China is going to be an issue for them, not just in areas like the South China Sea where Britain and France have sent ships to work alongside the U.S. and treat them in navigation operations, but also in areas like technology, 5-G technology. That's an area where the U.S. has been pushing for independence from China, arguing that it's a security issue, as well -- Robyn.

CURNOW: And is there any reaction from China, just the fact that they are such a focus of this conversation?

WATSON: Sure, well it's a holiday, a national holiday in China. So we're not anticipating big statements coming out of Beijing, but certainly there was a statement out of the Chinese embassy in London that was taking some digs at the G-7, which just wrapped up its meeting, saying that quote, "the days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone." Going on to say that "There's one system and one order in the world... Not the so- called system and order advocated by a handful of countries."

And that's in response to the fact that the G-7 really did confront China in statements on a level perhaps not seen before. And a senior Biden administration official says that this was a coup for Biden, that it was really a goal of his.

It was also a source of real disagreement, and according to a Biden official, at some point during the meeting on Saturday, the disagreement got to such a level that the Internet was shut off to the room, with the leaders of Germany and Italy worrying that the tough language might be seen as a provocation in Beijing.

That said, you have a communique that addressed issues like forced labor in the global supply chains. And that's clearly a nod towards Xinjiang and reports that ethnic Uyghurs who had been rounded up in mass incarceration and detention, that they've been forced to work in factories there.

[00:05:07]

There was a call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus in China, referenced to human rights abuses in Xinjiang and also here in Hong Kong, with freedom and autonomy being stripped away here in recent years, call for free and open Indo-Pacific, and for not changing the status quo in the South and East China Seas and also for peace across the Taiwan Straits. These are all areas where the U.S. is at disagreement with Beijing.

And finally, a call for some kind of an infrastructure project, which incorporates a label from Biden's political agenda, build back a better world, but that's seen as being eight years too late with China being very far ahead with its own belt and road initiative around the globe -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, thanks so much for that. Ivan Watson, good to speak to you. Appreciate it. Live there in Hong Kong.

Now, the meeting in Brussels comes on the heels of the three-day G-7 summit, as Ivan was saying, which wrapped up on Sunday. Members pledged to provide more than a billion COVID vaccine doses, either directly or through funding to COVAX.

They called for an investigation, as well, into the origins of the coronavirus. Members agreed to speak out against human rights abuses in China. And they committed to a goal of lowering net carbon emissions to zero no later than 2050.

And another story we're following here at CNN. A new era in Israeli politics is underway. The country's longest serving leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is out after the Knesset approved a new coalition government by a one-vote margin.

Netanyahu shook the hand of his successor, Naftali Bennett, but he fought the shift in power every single step of the way. Ahead of the swearing in, Netanyahu spoke for 35 minutes, attacking Mr. Bennett, calling the coalition weak and dangerous and making this vow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We will be back! Soon! We will be back in just a couple weeks. You will see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: The coalition is a precarious alliance of eight parties spanning from right-wing to left-wing and includes the first Arab party to serve in the government. Mr. Bennett's cabinet is set to meet with Israel's president in the next few hours.

Well, Elliott Goskine is in Jerusalem with more on what is ahead. It certainly is a new era. What -- what is the first order of business?

ELLIOTT GOSKINE, JOURNALIST: Well, I suppose after the photo opportunity with the president is out of the way this morning, between the president and all members of the new government. Then they can get down to business. And Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. That's the first time I've got to say that.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had laid out some of his priorities in his speech to the Knesset, which was unrelentingly heckled by some of Netanyahu's allies, talking about building hospitals and putting a project for the north for the country, reducing bureaucracy, taking more control of -- of children's education, bringing, for example, kindergartens under the wings of the education ministry.

Also trying to build bridges between Israel's Jews and Arabs, helping to reduce crime in certain Arab towns and cities, as well. And, you know, helping with the economic recovery, post-COVID-19, and trying to, you know, help people who have suffered particularly as a result of this -- what was a health crisis and economic crisis, helping them to kind of get back on their feet, as well.

So there's a number of priorities. He also mentioned Iran and how Israel would continue to be opposed to the Iran nuclear deal. Defense Minister Benny Gantz also reiterating that the opposition would remain there, but it would be done differently from the way that Netanyahu has done it in the past.

It would be done more discreetly, trying to get the U.S. to see Israel's perspective more discreetly behind the scenes, rather than overtly in the way Netanyahu did. So plenty to be getting on with on this first day of the new government -- Robyn.

CURNOW: And let's talk about the U.S. Because the Biden administration congratulated this new government pretty quickly. What does that say, and how can they work together and cooperate? Particularly on issues, sticky issues like Iran?

GOSKINE: Well, yes, there was that congratulatory statement. There was a phone call between Naftali Bennett and President Joe Biden, as well. Joe Biden reiterating the U.S.'s support for Israel and its security. Naftali Bennett thanking the U.S. president for his support including in the recent conflict with Hamas and Gaza.

I'll tell you, there are many, many issues that unite Israel and the United States. There is this very big sticking point, which obviously, the Biden administration is working on right now, perhaps getting the U.S. back into the Iran nuclear deal, which Israel will oppose.

[00:10:05]

But as I say, as Defense Minister Benny Gantz was outlining, this opposition is unlikely to take the same form as Netanyahu's opposition to it, but in substance, it could be pretty -- pretty similar.

CURNOW: We heard Benjamin Netanyahu there saying that we will be back. Also, so much heckling in the Knesset. What does that say about how

Mr. Netanyahu is going to manage being in the opposition, and more crucially, what kind of impact does that have on this coalition? How much of a thorn will Netanyahu and his allies be to Mr. Bennett and Yair Lapid, for example?

GOSKINE: He'll be a very painful thorn in the side and a very vocal one at that.

I should point out that the fact that he shook Naftali Bennett's hand and the fact that he stayed in the -- in the plenary to listen to the speeches from Naftali Bennett, and the foreign minister, Prime Minister -- the alternate prime minister Yair Lapid, I think, is obviously a positive sign. It wasn't some kind of, you know, Trumpian insult where he didn't come up to the inauguration of his successor in that respect.

So I think that, you know, as an image was a very important one for Israel's democracy. But make no mistake, Netanyahu is not going to go away quietly. He will be opposing this government at every turn and doing everything in his powers to cause its collapse as soon as he possibly can.

As you say, he said this government was -- was weak and dangerous and it wouldn't be able to stand up to the international community or to the U.S. on issues such as Iran or such as settlements and the like. And he will be doing everything he can to undermine this government at every turn. And as he promised or threatened, he will be back. He hopes at some point, and he may well be.

CURNOW: Elliott Goskine there in Jerusalem, thanks so much.

So I want to take you now to an exclusive CNN report. CNN has learned the U.S. government is assessing reports of a possible leak at a Chinese nuclear power plant after the French company that owns part of it and operated warned of a, quote, "imminent radiological threat."

Now, at the center of concern is the Taishan nuclear power plant located in Guangdong province in southern China, which is home to more than 126 million people.

CNN has reached out to the Chinese authorities in Beijing and Guangdong province and the Chinese embassy in Washington. None have responded. Though this weekend, of course, is a national holiday in China, as Ivan Watson mentioned a little bit earlier.

Now, while a source tells CNN the Biden administration believes that the facility is not yet at a, quote, "crisis level," the U.S. has been in contact with Chinese and French governments, and multiple U.S. government agencies are also, we understand, monitoring the situation.

Steven Jiang joins me now live from Beijing.

Steven, hi. What more can you tell us about what this potentially concerning situation involves? STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Robyn, you know, we have learned --

CNN has learned all this information from U.S. officials in Washington.

And one of the more serious allegations we have learned is the Chinese safety authority has been raising the acceptable limits of radiation for the area surrounding this nuclear power plant, one of the country's largest and most advanced, so to avoid having to shut it down.

Now, as you mentioned as of now, the U.S. government does not consider the situation to be at a crisis level, but they do think that there's a chance this could become a disaster, which is why they are monitoring this very closely. But also that's why the National Security Council has held multiple meetings last week to discuss and address this issue.

Now, the U.S. government actually became involved in this issue, because that French company told -- told U.S. Department of Energy officials late last month about a potential issue at this facility. And they followed up with a memo on June 4, formally requesting a U.S. government waiver so that they could share American technical assistance with their Chinese partners at the facility to address this issue, which turned out to be leaking fission gas.

And a few days later, June 8, the French company sent another memo to the DOE, really asking for an expedited review at an early request, but it is also in this memo that the French company used the phrase characterized the situation as an imminent radiological threat.

It is also in this June 8 memo that they revealed that the Chinese authority has been raising the so-called offside dose limits to the level that has already exceeded French standards.

We're not sure how that compares to the U.S. standards, but the French company obviously expressed concern over the potential risks to not only onsite workers, but also the general population in the surrounding area.

Now, the French company has since responded to our request for comment, acknowledging they're working on a so-called performance issue into this power plant but insisting the facility is operating within the safety parameters.

As you mentioned, we have also reached to -- reached out to the Chinese authorities in Beijing, and Guangdong, and Washington, as well as this Chinese company, state-owned company that co-owns and cooperates this facility. None have responded.

[00:15:08]

But obviously, this latest episode is undoubtedly adding another layer of complication to this already very complex and contentious relationship between Beijing and Washington, especially if this leak situation is not fixed anytime soon -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. Well, keep us posted. Thank you very much for that. Steven Jiang with this exclusive report from CNN. Thank you.

Now we have much more on this story online, including an explanation of China's use of nuclear power. Details of where this plant is located. Of course, you can find it all at CNN.com.

And an epidemic of loneliness against the backdrop of unity. As Tokyo prepares to host the Summer Olympics, Japan is facing a growing mental health crisis. We have that story, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow, live from Atlanta.

And we are learning much more on just how serious the situation was when Danish footballer Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch at a Euro 2020 match on Saturday.

So Denmark's team doctor says Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest and was, quote, "gone," before resuscitation. It's not clear what caused it, and he remains in hospital in a stable condition.

Well, earlier, I spoke with the cardiologist for Major League Soccer here in the U.S., and he says this type of event would likely be due to genetics. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MATT MARTINEZ, MORRISTOWN MEDICAL CENTER, ATLANTIC HEALTH SYSTEM: This is a rare event, but it does definitely occur. Depending on the sport, the age of the athlete, we approximate one in 200,000 athletes per year are going to have an event like this. One out of every 200,000.

That changes if you're a soccer player, a basketball player, or an American football player. That risk may be actually a little higher. If you're a Division One male basketball player, that seems to me to be the highest risk. And although we do -- although we do screening, these are congenital problems. You are born with these conditions. Under the age of 35, that's the most common reason you have an event like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: And do stay tuned for WORLD SPORT, which comes up in less than 30 minutes' time for more updates and analysis.

And the South American Football Confederation is defending its decision to play the Copa America in Brazil. The nation reported more than 70,000 new cases for four straight days leading up to the tournament.

And in a statement, the confederation said it "is fully aware of the situation the continent is going through in the context of the pandemic. It also recognizes the importance of football in South American culture." So far, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Colombia have all had players and

staff test positive for coronavirus since arriving. Brazil won the opening match, defeating Venezuela, 3-nil.

And the Summer Olympics in Tokyo set to kick off in about six weeks' time. This despite growing calls to cancel the games amid a devastating fourth wave of the pandemic.

[00:20:08]

Meanwhile, Japan is also dealing with a growing epidemic of loneliness. It's a crisis that only really is magnified by the COVID pandemic.

Blake Essig joins us now from Tokyo with much more on this story.

Blake, hi. What can you tell us?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Robyn, earlier this year, Japan appointed a Minister of Loneliness to tackle the country's mental health crisis. It's a seemingly monumental task.

Even before the pandemic hit, Japan had a very serious problem with loneliness, social isolation, and suicide. These are issues affecting the entire population, but in different ways.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ESSIG (voice-over): For the third time this week, Masatomi Yokoo and his team enter a home to clean. A simple job, but nothing about it is easy.

MASATOMI YOKOO, PRESIDENT, MEMORIES COMPANY (through translator): He probably died here. I don't know the shape, because the body fluid has soaked into the tatami so much. But, I think, probably here.

ESSIG: Yokoo, president of Memories Company, has been in the cleaning business for about 13 years. But recently, he says cleaning up after lonely deaths, where people die alone and remain undiscovered for long periods of time, has sadly turned into big business.

YOKOO (through translator): We do this kind of work every day. This scene, we always witness. We can see that his life is getting rough and that he's issuing an SOS. This is an ordinary scene for us.

ESSIG: The 79-year-old man who lived here died alone. The cause of death is unknown. Police say his body was found about a month after he died.

(on camera): Walking through this apartment, it's as if time has stood still. There's still food and drinks on the counter, mail on the floor. And if you take a look around this apartment, there is garbage and clothes, scattered everywhere.

It's a heartbreaking scene that is all too common in Japan. (voice-over): Michiko Ueda is an associate professor at Waseda

University who studies loneliness. While she says Japan's aging population is at great risk of isolation, it's actually the young that suffer most.

Her research, analyzing the public's mental health, found 40 percent of the entire Japanese population feels loneliness. For those under 40, that number is 50 percent.

MICHIKO UEDA, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, WASEDA UNIVERSITY: They have high suicidal ideation. They wanted to kill themselves very often. And then also, they feel like they're useless because they have no meaning in life. So the psychological effect of loneliness on the individual is very, very hard.

ESSIG: A psychological effect likely impacting more people as a result of the pandemic. In 2020, for the first time in 11 years, the suicide rate in Japan increased from the previous year and changed.

UEDA: What typically happens is during an economic crisis, the middle- aged men die by suicide. But now, it's the young ones. Definitely, something different going on.

ESSIG: And the numbers show it's getting worse. According to the National Police Agency, the suicide rate in the month of April increased more than 19 percent compared to last April.

Well, the pandemic has claimed more than 10,000 lives in Japan during that time. More than 23,000 people have taken their own life.

For Nanako Takayama, those numbers are personal. She experienced loneliness, depression, and contemplated suicide when she was 30 years old, shortly after giving birth to her first child.

NANAKO TAKAYAMA, COUNSELOR, A PLACE FOR YOU (through translator): I wanted to disappear. I didn't know how to handle my feelings. It was too painful to think about what to do.

ESSIG: About a decade later, Takayama studied psychology and is a counselor at Anata no Ibasho, A Place for You, which is a 24-hour chat service for those who just need someone to listen. At times, she interacts with four to five people a day. She uses her own struggle with loneliness to help others.

TAKAYAMA: I want to say that you are not alone. We seriously want to listen to your story. Voicing your concern is never a bad thing. It doesn't mean you are running away from the problem, or you're weak.

ESSIG (on camera): Experts say about 30,000 people here in Japan die lonely deaths each year. When that happens, this is the result. Cleaners asked to come in to pick up the pieces of a life lost.

YOKOO: I can't get used to this forever. Time stopped here. I can feel what kind of life he's having here right away. Honestly speaking, my heart aches.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ESSIG: Well, in terms of Japan's new Minister of Loneliness, he says that his first task is to identify those who are isolated, lonely, and at risk of being cut off from society.

He also plans to promote activities that protect the ties between people. Loneliness, socialization, and suicide are not issues unique to Japan. In fact, Robyn, the United Kingdom appointed its own Minister of Loneliness back in 2018.

[00:25:09]

CURNOW: Such a powerful story. Thank you for bringing it to us. Blake Essig there. Appreciate it.

And as Blake was just saying, loneliness, social isolation, and suicide are not issues unique to Japan. And you can go to CNN.com for more information on where you can get help, as well.

Meanwhile, Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin agree relations between their countries are at a low point, but there may be a chance to ease some tensions when the two leaders meet this week. More on that.

Plus, Aung San Suu Kyi is facing several criminal charges from the military leaders who kicked her out of power. The first proceedings start today. We have the latest on that.

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CURNOW: Welcome back to all of our viewers all around the world. I'm Robyn Curnow, live in Atlanta. You're watching CNN.

So U.S. President Joe Biden says he agrees with Russian President Vladimir Putin that relations between the two countries are at a low point. Mr. Biden's remarks come ahead of Wednesday's highly- anticipated summit with Russia's leader.

And while no major breakthroughs are expected, there may be some issues both sides can agree on. Matthew Chance has the details from Geneva -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The preparations are underway here for this first summit between the U.S. and Russian presidents. With the state set for a potentially tense encounter between the two leaders, there is of course, a list as long as your arm. Fraught issues in the U.S.-Russia relationship that have already strained ties for cyberattacks on the U.S. and election meddling to the Russian military threat against Ukraine. And of course, Russia's crackdown on critics at home.

All of which, President Biden says he will raise in the face-to-face meeting with President Putin on Wednesday.

But ahead of the summit, Russia has offered no indication at all that it's prepared to compromise or back down. In fact, it's already been announced. There will be no joint news conference when the summit is over. Not exactly a positive sign.

Having said that, both sides are suggesting that there are some areas where they may be able to work together. Arms control, climate change, regional stability. In the shorter term, diplomats from both sides are suggesting returning ambassadors to each other's countries may be agreed. And the emotional issue of prisoner exchanges could be discussed.

When it comes to the substantial issues, the stand between Russia and the United States, expectations are still very low.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Geneva.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Joining me now is Jill Dougherty of Georgetown University, adjunct professor and former CNN Moscow bureau chief.

Jill, hi. Welcome to the show. What is expected out of the summit, if anything?

JILL DOUGHERTY, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Actually not a lot. Realistically, saying that, in terms of kind of, as they say, deliverables, you know, concrete things that would come out of this.

But if you look at it, at the relationship the way it is right now, the mere fact that this is happening I think is important. And it could potentially be very useful. At least it gets both sides together. And they begin, if it works the way I think, at least in the United States and maybe Russia, too, wants to put some type of guardrails around the relationship; in other words to begin to define things.

Both sides have been talking about red lines that should not be crossed, et cetera. What are those red lines? What are things that neither side should do that could really spin this relationship into a very dangerous territory?

CURNOW: What does Mr. Putin want? Why is he doing this? What is in it for him?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, I think being on the world stage is always important. And he's an experienced politician. You know, he's been in office for more than two decades. He knows how to handle himself. He knows what to do in a circumstance like this.

So I think he will probably play his cards as well as he possibly can. And certainly, you know, I'm watching Russian TV all the time now. And this is the story, and the Russians are very interested and really fascinated. And I say, actually, proud of the fact that their president is on the world stage and is able to handle this in a calm manner compared to the Americans, who are all nervous about this.

So it plays in that kind of, let's say, the -- the messaging. But it can also play, I think, substantively. For some of these issues that they really have to get into.

I mean, you look at strategic security in terms of what happens after the New START arms control agreement. That's very important. The two gentlemen could talk about it. They're not going to decide it, but at least they can delegate their own people to move forward.

That agreement as you know, Robyn, will -- will expire in five years. And five years will be gone very quickly.

Then you have restoration of diplomatic relations. I mean, there is -- there are embassies. The embassies are very well-staffed. The consulates have been shut down. There's very little diplomatic relationship, and we're expecting that the ambassadors will be sent back. That's another good thing.

But cyber is going to be crucial in this. The allegations that the Americans have that Russia has not only interfered in elections, but actually is harboring these cybercriminals, the hackers who are doing, you know, Colonial Pipeline and other really serious -- serious attacks.

And then finally, human rights. Navalny that will definitely be on one of the subjects they'll discuss.

CURNOW: What do you make of when you talk about hackers and ransomware? What you make of Mr. Putin offering up this -- I mean, would you call it an olive branch and saying let's exchange my hacker for yours?

DOUGHERTY: You know, there's a lot of lack of clarity, I think, about this. So we have to see exactly what both men are talking about, because you also heard President Biden say maybe that's a good idea. And maybe we could do that.

But I do think the fact that President Putin is saying OK, you want us to give up people who you say are hackers? Well, maybe we will do that if you do it.

Now, that is, to me, classic Vladimir Putin behavior. Because he is raising something at the last minute. It's kind of unclear, but it looks positive, and would the United States do it? Would Russia even do it? There's no extradition treaty between the United States and Russia.

So you know, again, it looks good, and if the Americans say no and President Putin can say, Look, I tried. The Americans don't want to go along. It's their fault.

CURNOW: Jill Dougherty, always good to speak to you. Thanks so much.

Myanmar's deposed civilian leader is set to go on trial today. She's facing a slew of charges, including for corruption of bribery. Her lawyer says the accusations are absurd and groundless.

Aung Sana Suu Kyi and the rest of Myanmar's civilian government were ousted from power back in February by a military coup. Kristie Lu Stout is in Hong Kong for us and has been watching all of these developments since that coup.

[00:35:06]

So following through with this trial, is it a significant consolidation of their power after the coup? What do you expect to happen?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting. First, let's see what's going to happen, what started from today. You know, what we're seeing is this. Myanmar's democratically-elected ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi is on trial in the first of several criminal cases against her.

Now, today, she faces a number of charges, including violating COVID- 19 pandemic protocol for illegal possession of walkie talkies, as well as bribery. Aung San Suu Kyi, she denies all these allegations. Her lawyer says that the trial would likely finish by the end of July.

Now, Aung San Suu Kyi also is facing charges in a separate case. Far more serious changes of violating the official secrets act. That is punishable with up to 14 years of prison.

Last Thursday, she was charged with corruption. That is punishable with up to 15 years in prison. But as for the legal proceedings that are beginning today, Myanmar observers and analysts say this is nothing more than a show trial.

Earlier, I spoke to independent analyst David Madison. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MADISON, ANALYST: This is exactly a show trial. This is a political spectacle in order to discredit Aung San Suu Kyi and the democratic opposition. That's all it is. It shouldn't be taken seriously as a legal proceeding. It's not. It's a political process by the coup makers to discredit the democratically-elected leader of Myanmar.

STOUT: So what will the likely outcome be?

MADISON: The likely outcome will probably be a dragged-on process the way that they -- they always do with dissidents. They tried and make it a spectacle of discrediting anyone who disagrees with the military.

I think, given the number of charges that she's actually facing, I think a guilty verdict is almost fait accomplit. And what that's designed to do is actually marginalize her and discredit her in the eyes of many people in Myanmar.

And it simply might work. I think people really understand that the military is really trying to vanquish Aung San Suu Kyi and end her political career. And I don't think it will work.

(END VIDEOTAPE) STOUT: In Myanmar, the military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi and seized power in a coup on February the 1st. The military has claimed without evidence that Aung San Suu Kyi and her party won the election last year in November through fraudulent means. And she is among 5,900 people detained in Myanmar since the coup -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Let's really focus on this trial and all these -- these other charges that are against her. Does the military really see her as a threat? And why do they feel like they need to throw, literally, the kitchen sink at her when it comes to -- to all of these alleged -- alleged legal -- illegal charges?

STOUT: Yes. As you heard from David Madison, they just said they want to discredit her, because of the result of the election last year that was overwhelmingly in favor of her party, the NLD. The Myanmar military claimed that was fraudulent.

Look, she is widely revered inside Myanmar. She managed to gain political power in a political system that was created by the military, but I must also point out that she is not the pivotal figure that she once was.

And as the military, through this trial, is focusing all their fire on Aung San Suu Kyi, there is the far wider issue of the resistance that has risen inside and taken hold of many corners of the country since February 1. People in urban areas and rural areas who reject the coup, who reject the military and want to see the restoration of democracy in Myanmar -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Kristie Lu Stout there, thanks so much for bringing us these details, live in Hong Kong.

So four more opposition leaders have been arrested by Nicaragua's national police and charged with threatening national sovereignty. At least 12 opposition leaders have been detained so far this month. Some of them had announced intentions to run against President Daniel Ortega in the upcoming November election.

The Ortega government has a bloody past of cracking down on the opposition, with hundreds killed and thousands more injured in government protests back in 2018.

CNN has reached out to Nicaragua's national police for comment on these new arrests, but we have not yet received a response. And U.S. President Joe Biden wraps up his U.K. trip with a bit of royal pomp and circumstance.

When we come back, we look at his visit with Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

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CURNOW: U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden capped their stay in the U.K. with a visit to Queen Elizabeth's private residence at Windsor Castle. That's a privilege only four American presidents have claimed over the queen's nearly 70-year reign.

It also marks the first time the queen has hosted a world leader since the death of her husband, Prince Philip, a little bit earlier on this year.

Well, Max Foster is in Windsor with the latest -- Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Queen Elizabeth II receiving her 13th sitting U.S. president for an audience, her 12th during her reign, going back to the 1950s.

It was actually an informal process. This was not a state visit. But you saw the guard of honor laid out in the Quadrangle there at Windsor Castle, and President Biden inspecting the troops.

Many of these troops have seen active service with American troops. It worked very closely with their American counterparts; were very much looking forward to being inspected by the American commander-in-chief.

After that and the national anthem playing, they went inside for tea. Those conversations always remain private. We were given a photograph of the moment inside. That's the only piece of media we'll receive from this event. Those conversations are never leaked, although last time President Trump did release some detail, they'd discussed Brexit. But usually, they're quite innocuous conversations. An opportunity, really, for a visiting head of state to have time with the world's longest serving head of state and get a sense of all the history that she's seen during her reign.

The Bidens were in the castle for about an hour. Then they left, and their European tour continues.

Max Foster, CNN, Windsor, England.

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CURNOW: Thanks for that, Max.

So thanks also to you for watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. I will be back in 15 minutes' time with more news. I'm going to hand you over to WORLD SPORT after the break.

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