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Russia Pays Attention to President Biden's Tone; President Biden Delivered a Message of Unity; China Not Pleased by NATO's Message; U.K. Delays Lifting of Restrictions; President Biden Pleas to Americans to Have the Vaccine; Delta Variant Spreads Like Wildfire in 70 Countries; President Biden Prepares For High Stakes Meeting With Putin; U.S. And Turkey Presidents Hold Bilateral Meeting; New Government Approves Far-Right March In Jerusalem; Russian mercenaries Accused Of Atrocities In CAR; Finland's Captain Describes Shock Over Eriksen Collapse; Message Of Support For Christiane Amanpour. Aired 3- 4a ET

Aired June 15, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, lashing out. China hits back after NATO warns of the rising threat from Beijing.

The U.K. puts its plans for a grand reopening on hold, and rolls a new vaccination effort after worries of a Delta variant.

And, one of the players who was on the pitch with Danish footballer Christian Eriksen when he suffered cardiac arrest shares that moment with CNN.

Good to have you with us.

Well, Joe Biden will be wrapping up his meetings with E.U. leaders in Brussels in the coming hours. Next, he heads to Geneva to meet with Russian president, Vladimir Putin. In the meantime, the U.S. president and his NATO allies are sending a clear message that they won't tolerate Russian threats to European security. They also singled out China vowing to cooperate against its growing influence and international policies.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: We heard a strong message from President Biden on America's commitment to NATO, and an equal strong commitment from other allies in return. All leaders agreed that in an age of global competition Europe and North America must stand strong together in NATO to defend our values and our interests, especially at the time when authoritarian regimes like Russia and China challenge the rules based international order.


CHURCH (on camera): And Fred Pleitgen is standing by in Geneva ahead of the Biden Putin summit. Ivan Watson is covering China's reaction to all of this from Hong Kong. But first, I want to start with Melissa Bell who joins us live from Brussels. Good to see you, Melissa.

So, President Biden says NATO stand together in a show of unity ahead of his meeting tomorrow with Russia's President Putin. A very clear message that Russian threats will not be tolerated. How significant is all of this?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's important that such unity was found in the end at NATO yesterday. We are going to find even more clear unity today when the E.U. leaders meet with, and I'm speaking of the E.U. institution leaders who have been meeting with the American president here in Brussels. And all of this was important in the run-up to that meeting in Geneva as Joe Biden prepares to meet with the Russian president.

Now, the -- what we've been seeing over the course of few days this return to the multilateral fold of the United States is one part of the story, but I think it goes even further than that. Europeans, the E.U. has been fighting a long and lonely battle in these last few days, years, rather, to defend what happened in the post-war consensus. The institutions that were built to defend it, and now they found once again their old ally is back wanting to protect and promote democracy and fight autocracy. And I think the words that Joe Biden spoke last night were not lost on European ears. Have a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I pointed out we have to prove to the world and to our own people that democracy can still prevail against the challenges of our time, and deliver for the needs of our people. We have to root out corruption that siphons off our strength, guard against those who would stoke hatred and division for political gain as phony populism.


BELL (on camera): Now that isn't to say, Rosemary, that there won't be disagreements. For instance, we saw yesterday at NATO that divergence of view over how China should be dealt with. Whether it should be squarely dealt with as an adversary by NATO as Joe Biden would have like, or rather as Europeans have been saying a softer approach.


Now what you'll likely to hear today from the meetings and one of the concrete steps that's likely to emerge, the creation of an E.U.-U.S. council that will allow for the promotion and development of trade and technology in order to counter the economic rise of China and the challenges that that presents to the rest of the world. So the idea that the Europeans are bringing to this table is yes,

let's focus on the challenges now presented by China but let's try and do it in a way that is constructive as well and most of all, let's do it together.

CHURCH: Melissa, Melissa Bell joining us live from Brussels, many thanks for that. And for more on NATO's criticism of Russia and Moscow's reaction, CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us live this hour from Geneva. Good to see you, Fred.

So how is Russia reacting to NATO leaders discussing the threat it poses to the region and the clear unity shown by the alliance ahead of the Biden/Putin summit.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russians certainly seen that new unity and it certainly seen that President Biden has a very different approach to NATO and to the U.S.'s allies in the Europe and across the Atlantic than President Trump had before. That's certainly that's something that's not lost on the Russians.

At the same time, the Russians have for a very long time have said they believe that it's NATO that is actually infringing on its interest. Of course, they point to NATO enlargement which is taking place over the past three decades.

And senior aide to Vladimir Putin he was quoted earlier today on Russian state media as saying, of course, a lot of these topics are going to be on the agenda when the two men meet here in Geneva tomorrow. It's obviously, Ukraine is going to be on the agenda. Difficult to see any headway being made there, of course the whole issue of Ukraine very sensitive to the Russians and really one where they've indicated that they're not going to back down from many of their position.

The U.S. fully committed to Ukrainian security and to Ukrainian territorial integrity as well. Belarus, the Russians have acknowledge also going to be on the agenda, of course some of those moves that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has made over the past couple of weeks, like for instance, forcing that Ryanair jet to land and pulling a dissident journalist off that plane and arresting him. Those are also going to be talked about.

But one of the main topics that both sides have acknowledged is going to be the whole realm of cyber. Cyber security, cyber warfare, also, of course, criminal gangs operating in the cyber sphere. And that's area, Rosemary, where both sides are saying in general, yes, they'd like work closer together, they'd like to work together at all.

Both President Biden and President Putin have said that they could even envision possibly handing over cyber criminals to one another. Of course, they are still far away from reaching any sort of agreement. But that's certainly seems to be one of the corner points and key points that is going to be discussed here at this meeting as both sides are acknowledging that relations between the U.S. and Russia remain at a very low point, Rosemary. CHURCH: And Fred, on Monday we saw President Biden attempt to de-

escalate tensions sidestepping previous comments he had made about President Putin being a killer, instead praising him. Let's just listen to what he said.


BIDEN: I have met with him, he is bright, he is tough, and I have found that he is a, as they say, when we used to play, a worthy adversary.


CHURCH: So, Fred, how will Putin likely respond to that approach?

PLEITGEN: Well, certainly, being a worthy adversary is something that Putin will be very happy to hear. Those comments of course won't go down badly in Moscow. And I think, Rosemary, that in the run up to the summit we have seen both leaders really try to tone down some of the emotions and bring all this really in a very realistic footing.

On the one hand, you have those remarks by President Biden, saying that, you know, the things he said about Vladimir Putin being a killer that he doesn't believe that's going to have any impact on the summit at all. And the Russian president did acknowledge that as well. He said, look, he's been called many things over the years. He believes that President Biden is a very professional politician who's been in politics for a very long time.

I think what you are going to see here at the summit is you are going to see two leaders who are going to get down to business and who are both going to act out of their national interest, the U.S. obviously in the interest of its allies as well. They are going to see where they can cooperate and they are going to try and draw red lines where they feel they cannot cooperate. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Fred Pleitgen joining us live from Geneva, many thanks as always.

Well China is blasting NATO's communique as a continuation of the cold war mentality. CNN's Ivan Watson joins us live from Hong Kong to discuss this. So, Ivan, what else is China saying about the NATO communique?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Rosemary, the Chinese government doesn't like this. The statement came out of the Chinese embassy in Brussels where they accused the NATO of misjudgment, as you mentioned a continuation of this cold war mentality. And they responded to some of the points that NATO formalized in its communique, for example, it raised the accusation that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal.


And China came back and said hey, you know, NATO member states have 20 more times nuclear weapons than China does. Also arguing that, you know, you're talking about us potentially being a threat to the status quo or the rules-based order around the world, look at which country has military bases around the world and flexes its muscles by sending aircraft carriers around the world.

Of course, that is a nod to the U.S. and its military presence around the globe. We are also hearing echoes of the kind of criticism that we heard over the weekend from Chinese diplomats in response to criticism of China that came from the G7 summit. Where there is a lot of anger and some response, we've heard is our echoes of previous rounds of disagreements between the U.S. and China over issues like human rights in Xinjiang here in Hong Kong. Competing territorial claims in the East and South China Sea and perceived threats to Taiwan as well.

And we'll likely going to hear more of this kind of firm and probably critical response coming from the Chinese foreign ministry which is scheduled to give a briefing in a matter of hours in Beijing. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Ivan, what does the criticism of China at the NATO summit in last week's G7 summit say about China's place in the world today?

WATSON: Well, you could interpret it as a compliment that you have democracies both their largest military alliance and the G7 and are all recognizing China's power in the world. It's the world's second largest economy. It has the world's largest naval fleet. It invests all over, it is active in Africa and in Latin America and conducting joint military exercises with Russia in NATO's backyard.

And arguably, this is the G7 and NATO recognizing that China is a big player and it has to be dealt with, with its kind of technological prowess and deep economic power. That's one way to interpret it. Some of what we're hearing from China is that this is all the U.S. trying to push smaller weaker countries to unite against China.

I think Beijing and the Global Times in China has made this argument that perception is important and it needs to try to prove to Europe that it is no longer a threat. And some of these countries wouldn't unite behind the U.S. if that perception wasn't there somewhere. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Ivan Watson bringing us our live report there from Hong Kong, many thanks.

Well the spread of a highly contagious COVID variant is worrying health experts all across the world. Coming up on CNN Newsroom, I'll speak with an infectious disease expert about the growing concerns.

And as President Biden prepares to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, we are following new potential war crimes by Russians in Africa. Mass killings and torture allegedly carried out by mercenaries in the Central African Republic. CNN's exclusive report later this hour.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH (on camera): The United States is edging closer to surpassing 600,000 deaths from the coronavirus. According to data from Johns Hopkins University. It's a grim milestone that officials were hoping would never be reached amid the rollout of vaccines. The U.S. has suffered more deaths and more cases than any other country in the world.

President Joe Biden on Monday implored Americans to get vaccinated, saying that too many people were still losing their lives to the virus.


BIDEN: My heart goes out to all of those who've lost a loved one. I know that black hole that seems to consume you that fills up your chest when you lose someone close to you someone that you adored. That is why I continue to say to America if you have not been vaccinated, get vaccinated. We have more work to do to beat this virus. And now is not the time to let our guard down. So please, please get vaccinated as soon as possible. We've had enough pain. Enough pain.


CHURCH (on camera): U.S. officials are also worried about the spread of the variant first identified in India. It represents about 10 percent of cases in the U.S. and is doubling every two weeks. And according to a Scottish study the variant approximately doubles the risk of hospitalization.

Well, the variant is already dominant in the U.K. and its rapid spread has forced the British prime minister to reconsider England's reopening plans. Almost all social restrictions were set to end this coming Monday. But they are now pushed back another four weeks.


MATT HANCOCK, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: I know that people have been planning and arranging important moments and that businesses have been gearing up to reopen. So, it is with a heavy heart and faced with this reality that we've made the difficult decision not to move ahead with a step for next week. Instead, we'll pause for up to four weeks until the 19th of July with a review of the data after two weeks.


CHURCH (on camera): And for more on all of this we want to bring in CNN's Scott McLean who is joining us live from London. So, Scott what has been the reaction to this extended lockdown and the increased vaccination efforts?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rosemary. Yes, the extended lockdown obviously not likely to be popular but if you don't work in those affected industries, nightclubs, theaters, cinemas, sporting venues, et cetera, it's pretty a small price to pay.

You can still go to the pub, you can still hang out with friends inside, there is just limitations on how many you can see at one time. And the prime minister says that this relatively small sacrifice and being cautious right now could save potentially thousands of lives.

His government though has clearly been caught off by this Delta variant that was first spotted in India. It spread 64 percent faster than the alpha variant or U.K. variant. As you mentioned, the Scottish study suggest that it doubles your risk of hospitalization, and vaccines don't work quite as well against it. Though the government went to lengths to explain that they are still highly effective, more than 90 percent more effective in preventing hospitalizations which is obviously are good news.

The government's top scientist last night laid out the tests that the government wanted to hit in order to justify reopening the economy. And for most they were -- they were made with one big exception. The question of variants and they showed this bar chart which really seem to clearly illustrate the problem here.

The orange that you see that's the alpha variant. The blue there is the Delta variant and you can see how quickly it goes from very small numbers, almost zero in April right up to 96 percent of all new cases that are being found today.

So, this four-week extension gives the government more times to get second shots in the arms of two-thirds of the adult population and at least one shot for everybody over the age of 18. The prime minister thinks that July 19th will in fact mark the end of restrictions. But he also gave this caveat. Listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: That of course that doesn't exclude the possibility, I'm afraid, and we got to be honest about this, the possibility that there is some new variant that is far more dangerous that kills people in a way that we currently cannot foresee or understand that's obviously the case.


MCLEAN (on camera): And that's the concern from protesters and even from people within Boris Johnson's own party that each new variant will delay lockdown and that things will never truly get back to normal. There were protests yesterday outside of Downing Street, people chanting get Boris out, evict Matt Hancock, that's the health secretary.

There was also some backlash from M.P.s inside of parliament because they were not consulted. In fact, Rosemary the house speaker said that he found it totally unacceptable that Downing Street was, in his words, running roughshod over M.P.s.

CHURCH: Scott McLean joining us live from London, many thanks.

Well, the Delta variant is quickly becoming a global concern. For more on the threat it poses I'm joined now by Dr. Peter Drobac. He is an infectious disease and global health expert at the University of Oxford.

Thank you, doctor for talking with us and for all that you do.


CHURCH: So, this Delta variant that originated in India now accounts for more than 90 percent of all new COVID infections in the U.K. And as a result, COVID restrictions will not be lifted for another month in the U.K. or the ones that they are expecting to have lifted. So how bad do you think this could potentially get for the U.K.? And what more needs to be done to control its spread? Because we are already seeing people are pushing back, some politicians are pushing back, so this is problematic.

DROBAC: It is. You know, the answer to that question, Rosemary, is that we don't know how bad it could get. And I think that is what really led to this, this cautious approach. We've seen a significant rise in infections in the U.K. over the last several weeks as the reopening has slowly march forward, really driven by this much more contagious Delta variant.

And unfortunately, over the last week have also started to see a rise in the number of hospitalizations. So here is the big question. We've seen again and again with this pandemic as you see rise in cases, and then a few weeks later you see then that rise in hospitalizations and then deaths.

What we're hoping is that vaccinations will break that link so that you may still see some infections. However, that very few of those are going to result in severe disease that's going to land people in the hospital and to ultimately die.

And so, what this does is buy more time to understand what this trend looks like. I think it's very likely that we will see a third wave of infections here in the U.K. The question is how bad will get? And it's a reminder that we still have a long way to go with vaccines but that we shouldn't put all our eggs into one basket.

Yes, vaccines are the way out of it, but we always need to be thinking about a comprehensive strategy to mitigate all of our risk, and that includes travel and border policies, thinking about ventilations and all of the behaviors that we've learned about over the last year and a half.

CHURCH: And doctor, the Delta variant has been detected in more than 70 nations, at seven-zero nations. And the Guardian is reporting that the U.K. is the canary in the coal mine for the wealthy and well- vaccinated countries like the U.S. and Israel, for instance, as they watch to see what impact this variant has on hospitalizations and deaths. What have we learned so far about its impact? And are these wealthy nations responding appropriately right now though, this new threat on the horizon?

DROBAC: Well, time and again, we've seen an early warning sign, whether that was, you know, Italy with the first wave, the U.K. with the second wave driven by the variant. And I think again this is an early warning sign. We are seeing this also in Chile, another country with very high rates of vaccination that is right now facing high cases totals since the pandemic began.

And that's not driven by the Delta variant but it's a reminder that we need to reach very high levels of population protection with vaccinations in order to really start to mitigate the threat of the virus, particularly now with this much, much, much more contagious variant.

An important thing that we're learning with the Delta variant is that whilst the vaccines do appear to give still give very good protection against the Delta variant that really it happens after you get your second dose. After only one dose the protection is fairly weak.

And so right now, there's a real race to get everybody not just vaccinated but to get both of their jabs. And we're seeing a number of countries in Europe actually shorten the interval between the first and the second of vaccines to try to reach that coverage more quickly.

CHURCH: So, how concerned are you about the spread of this Delta variant in developing nations, and of course the impact it will have on those poorer countries, and ultimately, across the world again.


DROBAC: I'm extremely concerned. If you take vaccines out of the equation, and unfortunately, that's the case for too many people around the world, this is an extremely contagious variant that also is much more likely to put people at hospital about twice as likely. We're already seeing around 10,000 deaths a day around the world.

So, you know, if you think about this as a race between the virus spreading and the spread of our vaccination coverage effort, we are losing that battle. And unfortunately, the virus is picking up speed.

We saw pledges by wealthy countries at the G7 last week to donate a million doses of vaccine. That's just not enough. We're talking about the need for about 11 billion doses and not next year but as quickly as possible. All of us are going to be at risk unless we can really change the game and find ways to aggressively ramp vaccination efforts around the world.

CHURCH: Yes. The alarm bells are going off. Dr. Peter Drobac joining us from Oxford, England. Many things.

DROBAC: Thank you.

CHURCH: Updating you on the exclusive report we brought you yesterday. That the U.S. has been assessing report of a possible leak at a Chinese nuclear plant. The French co-owner of the Taishan Nuclear Plant says the environmental readings are normal and in safe parameters.

It said Monday that increased levels of radiation were caused by a degradation in fuel rod housing. Now this comes after the company warns earlier this month of an imminent radiological threat.

CNN has reached out to Chinese authorities for comment. We'd received no response so far.

Well, President Biden issues some careful phrase for Russia's Vladimir Putin and some warnings as their summit draws near. We will look at the ground work being laid.

Plus, the U.S. president meets his Turkish counterpart for the first time since being elected. How a campaign promise may have derailed the meeting before it even started. Back in just a moment.


CHURCH (on camera): In just a few hours the U.S. president will attend the third major summit of his European tour. This time meeting with E.U. leaders in Brussels. And this comes on the heels of the NATO summit. Joe Biden says the talks with the alliance were incredibly productive and also reassuring to allies that America has their back. His push to prepare alliances proceeds the highly anticipated talks with Russia's president on Wednesday.


Mr. Biden says the U.S. is not looking for conflict but will stand up for Democratic values. And he called Vladimir Putin a worthy adversary.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate if he chooses. And if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past, relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind.


CHURCH (on camera): Joining me now is CNN European affairs commentator, Dominic Thomas. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So Dominic, the big news in all of this of course is the high stakes upcoming summit between Presidents Biden and Putin, and what may come of that. And just three months ago, on ABC, President Biden was asked if Putin was a killer. He said he was back then. But on Monday, skirted that same question that came from CNN, even calling Putin a worthy adversary. Is this all about Biden trying to de- escalate tensions before this summit? And will that strategy payoff?

THOMAS: Yeah. Well, it's going to be interesting and we will have to see. But clearly, going into a meeting with somebody that, I think, it is important to underline that this two know each other. There is a past, but I think the world has changed since they were -- since they were last together.

And clearly, President Biden strategy here, as indeed, President Putin's televised interview before this meeting goes ahead, is to try at least and go there and achieving some kind of cooperation and stability and to de-escalate some of the tension and around this particular meeting and issues so that they can hopefully have a meaningful conversation and with some productive outcomes.

CHURCH: And Dominic, President Biden said Monday that NATO leaders thank him and are standing right behind him as he prepares to meet with Putin now rather than later, despite some skepticism from critics suggesting it is an undeserved reward for Putin. Is this the right time for the two leaders to meet?

THOMAS: I think it's -- I think it is a crucial moment. I think as President Biden has gone abroad on his first trip and he's started off in really with this sort of the optics sort of highlighting the importance of the transatlantic alliance of rebuilding everything that President Trump went about undermining and weakening on institutions like NATO and the G7 group, and the European Union are absolutely crucial in building that geostrategic alliance.

And then at that particular moment to turn things around and go and speak directly, person-to-person with one of the countries that NATO and Biden have describe as being a threat is I think crucially important in setting himself up as having important allies of building an international strategy and not sort of avoiding speaking to some of the more challenging interlocutors. In other words, to demonstrate that this is -- that America is back as he has said and that he is willing and capable of speaking to this particular leaders and to make particular claims and to outline an expectations.

CHURCH: And of course, with that summit, there were so many issues to be raised with the Russian president, including multiple cyberattacks, U.S. election meddling, Alexei Navalny's welfare, Ukraine, and so much more. What all can be achieved at this Geneva Summit? And what should the consequences be if Putin continue to allow Russian criminals cyberattacks or if Navalny dies in custody after this high stakes meeting they have?

THOMAS: Yeah. Well, I think what we're really getting here is a juxtaposition at this moment of history of two very different ways of seeing the world. And President Biden has been underscoring this since he left the United States, the importance of democracy versus, say, autocracy and of restoring trust, of working a multilateralism, and so on, and of rebuilding those institutions that not only were weakened and undermined during the Trump presidency but that let Putin, for example, essentially not be subjected to the kind of scrutiny that he will be subjected to at this particular moment.

So, in terms of President Biden asserting the fact that the human rights record and that interfering and destabilizing democratic institutions is simply not going to be tolerated, and then beyond that, to talk about constructive areas around, say, climate, or around Middle East policies and so on. But for President Putin, the optics are also important. I mean, of

course, President Biden wants to avoid escalation and potentially pushing Russia further into the arms one could argue of China. But as President Putin looks at things, there is the question of his broader sphere of influence.


And NATO has reasserted its commitment to the region, to Europe, to North America, and the Baltics states will be reassured by President Biden statements to the European Union.

But in terms of the broader concerns, Navalny, of course, is the domestic issue for President Putin. But everything that Navalny represents, anti-corruption, values, transparency, respect of Democratic institutions, these are precisely the areas that President Biden, through NATO, through the E.U. and the G7 has been highlighting for the last few days. And those will be then front and foremost in this particular discussions as they go in to this week.

CHURCH: Alright. We'll see what comes of it. Dominic Thomas, many thanks from your perspective, I appreciate it.

THOMAS: Thank you again.

CHURCH: One of President Biden's important meetings on Monday was with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This was the first time the two met as heads of state, and it came after Mr. Biden angered Turkey earlier this year by recognizing the killing of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

But, the U.S. President says things went surprisingly well. So, let's go live to Istanbul where CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is standing by. Good to see you, Jomanah. So how did this Biden-Erdogan meeting go from Turkey's perspective?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, by all counts, Rosemary, according to both presidents, it went really well, describing it as positive, productive, and President Erdogan going as further saying that there is no issue in Turkish-U.S. relations that they can't resolve. You know, there was a lot of speculation about how this relationship is going to be between these two presidents.

You know, candidate Biden had been very critical of the human rights records in this country, describing President Erdogan as an autocrat, and then he did seem to be giving him the cold shoulder, their first phone call didn't happen until three months after President Biden was in office.

And as you mentioned back in April, that whole issue, President Biden coming the first U.S. president to recognize the mass killing of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire's genocide. I think it really angered Turkey and they continue to reject. But you know, President Biden has inherited a very complicated relationship with a very important yet difficult ally. You know, the relationship between the two has been strange for a very

long time over so many different contentious issues. This is a relationship that's been dominated by mistrust. But Biden is no strangers to Turkey. He has dealt with this country for a very long time with President Erdogan and also he dealt with him as Vice President and visited Turkey.

You know, topping the list of these contentious issues were Turkey -- for the United States, a major allies since been Turkey purchases that Russian missile defense system, the S400. You know, you saw that very rare move, the U.S. slapping sanctions on a NATO ally and kicking Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program.

For Turkey, from their perspective, the most contentious issue and existential threat to Turkey is the United States support of Kurdish fighters in Syria where they see as their biggest national security threat.

It's a long list of issues, Rosemary, we have spoken about over the past few years. But also as we saw yesterday, the hints of their common interest, areas where they can work together including Afghanistan, there are talks ongoing between the two and NATO on what Turkey can provide in terms of stability after a NATO withdrawal.

And also, Turkey a growing military power globally involved in several conflicts like Syria, and Libya where also they can cooperate and work together, what some would say is Turkey limiting the Russian expansion in those areas as well.

No major breakthrough out of this meeting, Rosemary. I don't think anyone was expecting that. But you have the two presidents sitting and talking, a positive start and perhaps a shift going back to the traditional ways of doing things, institutions to institutions, state to state diplomacy again versus the time of Donald Trump where it was that relationship between the two presidents. So, by all accounts, a positive first meeting, Rosemary.

CHURCH (on camera): Alright. Jomana Karadsheh, many thanks.

Well, in the coming hours, far-right Israeli groups are expected to march in Jerusalem's old city. The march was approved by Israel's new government on its first day of business despite the risk of reigniting tensions. Israel's newly sworn in security minister said police are well prepared. Palestinian groups have called for a day of rage in response.

An original march on May 10th had been rerouted at the last minute. And right-wing Israeli groups had accused the government of caving to Hamas militants.


Well, the challenges facing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett are immediate, of course. He go just a 30-minute handover from his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu. Afterwards, Netanyahu vowed to quote, "overthrow the government at the first opportunity." The new diverse coalition appears to be united on just one goal, ousting Netanyahu. Now, whether it succeeds in governing will depend on its two leaders, politicians who have been friends despite their differing views.

CNN's Oren Liebermann explains.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORESPONDENT (voice over): They called it a brotherhood, a pact, that looked like the odd couple, the religious high tech millionaire and secular television host. Naftali Bennett came into politics on the right advocating for Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER (through translator): There are no two narratives. There are no two truths. There is one truth, and that truth is very simple. Greater Israel belongs to the Jewish people.

LIEBERMANN (voice over): His rollercoaster political journey took him through a series of different parties since 2008, a constant, right- wing thorn in Benjamin Netanyahu's side.

BENNETT (through translator): It should be clear we will not allow the Israeli government to recognize a Palestinians state under no circumstances. We will not allow Israel to handover, not even one centimeter of land to the Arabs. This is what we are here for, to guard the land of Israel, as we have always done.

LIEBERMANN (voice over): Now, he leads the Yamina Party with the mere six seats, 5 percent of Israel's parliament but enough to become Israel's Prime Minister.

Former TV host, Yair Lapid, entered politics in 2013. The surprise story of the election, letting 19 seats with his Yesh Aitd party. The two rookie politicians formed an alliance then, based on a genuine friendship and a commitment not to lie to each other. According to those familiar with the relationship, they use their newfound power for leverage against Netanyahu, a taste of what was to come.

Through the years they found themselves on opposite sides, but the friendship held and the alliance remerge after the last election, a return of the bromance. The two are selling a different future for politics, not the divisive polarizing politics of Benjamin Netanyahu, but a politics based on agreements and unity where your opponent is a patriot with a different view on how best to help the

country. Their success depends on the most diverse desperate coalition in Israel's 73 year history, a grand experiment in politics based on brotherhood that has lasted so far.

LIEBERMANN (on camera): Their alliance has made possible by the nature of their parties. Naftali Bennett hopes to pull votes from the right, where Yair Lapid hopes to pull votes from the center and the left. So, their success is not mutually exclusive. Because of that, they saw an opportunity with Benjamin Netanyahu's continued failure to form a government to try something new, something different where one- on-one made more than two. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


CHURCH (on camera): Just ahead on CNN, Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic are facing multiple allegations of war crimes, including murder and torture. Our exclusive report, next.




CHURCH (on camera): CNN has uncovered disturbing evidence of human rights atrocities by Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic. Chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, and her team were denied entry into the country because of CNN's previous reporting on the activities of the mercenaries.

But working with local journalists, and independent investigative groups, The Sentry, CNN has assembled evidence of a pattern of abuses which one U.N. expert says may amount to war crimes. The names of victims have been changed to protect their identities. Some viewers may find some of the images in this report disturbing.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The aftermath of a massacre at a mosque in the city of Bambari, in the Central African Republic, at least 12 bodies are visible on the ground, a woman and a child are among the dead. Dozens of civilians had taken shelter in the Al-Takwa Mosque that day after witnesses say Russian mercenaries and government troops came hunting through rebel fighters.

Abdoulaye was inside the mosque, but instead of finding sanctuary, he told CNN, they became targets.

ABDOULAYE, VICTIM OF BAMBARI MOSQUE INCIDENT (through translator): (Inaudible) and the Russians asked us to take the women and the children, out of the mosque. Six of us walked out with her hands raced. They searched us and found nothing. We haven't even gone five meters when they started shooting us. Four people died, one jumped a wall, and I was shot in the right foot.

WARD (voice over): That same day, Djibrilia told CNN her 15 year old son was killed by Russians, firing from a helicopter. When her husband went out to find him, he was shot down to.

DJIBRILIA, VICTIM OF BAMBARI MOSQUE INCIDENT (through translator): My husband was buried together with my 15-year-old son. When the burial was over, we couldn't even say a word. I was crying. My children also came next to me whaling. It was the Russians who killed my husband, leaving me with children in pain.

WARD (voice over): A confidential U.N. report found that abuses were carried out on both sides in Bambari, but that the Russians may have committed war crimes, and it does not appear to be an isolated incident.

Over several months, CNN and the independent investigative group, The Sentry, have obtained testimony and documents implicating Russian contractors deployed to train the Central African army in a wide range of atrocities during fighting between government and rebel forces, including mass shootings, torture, and the burning of villages.

Sorcha McLeod is on the U.N. working group on mercenaries. In March, it sent details of alleged abuses to the Russian and Central African Republic governments?

Grave human rights abuses, including rape, summary execution, targeted killings, torture, forced disappearances, murders, and other abuses. We are talking about war crimes here, potentially, are we not?

SORCHA MCLEOD, U.N. WORKING GROUP ON MERCENARIES (on camera): Yes, we are. We are seeing some of the most serious human rights violations and humanitarian law violations. And we are seeing them on a widespread scale. People on the ground are absolutely terrified.

WARD (voice over): It is a stark contrast from the story Russia tells. In this recent movie, Tourist, funded by a company associated with the Russian mercenaries, they are lauded as heroic defenders who have liberated Central Africa.

In reality, Russia's presence in this war torn, mineral rich nation has always been controversial. Even as it has ballooned from 170 contracted trainers in 2017 to around 2,300 now, according to a U.N. document obtained by The Sentry with more than 30 basis spread out across the country. 39-year-old teacher, Nemory (ph), shows our camera the scars from wounds he says, were inflicted by Russian mercenaries at an outpost outside of Bambari.


They took us to the Russian base, tied us up with rope and started to torture us. They even used a bayonet to injure my left foot deeply, he says. Their actions were evil and barbaric.

MCLEOD (on camera): We are seeing a pattern of behavior by these Russian private contractors. This has happened in other countries, we've seen for example in relation to Libya. We had Russian private contractors who were involved in a variety of human rights violations, and a variety of international humanitarian law violations.

WARD (voice over): But, for the victims of these alleged crimes, there is little hope for justice. Private military contractors are technically illegal in Russia, and so don't officially exist. And many locals live in fear of repercussions from a shadowy and unaccountable force.

Clarissa Ward, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH (on camera): Well, a football star's brush with death during a

match has been the shock of Euro 2020. Coming up, we will have the latest on Christian Eriksen's condition.


CHURCH: A Danish midfielder, Christian Eriksen, remains in stable condition after his terrifying collapse from cardiac arrest. Now, it happened just before the half in Denmark's Euro 2020 opening match on Saturday, and emotions are still running high. One team may call the incident a violent experience and another criticized UEFA for forcing Denmark to eventually resume play. Finland's captain was on the pitch when Eriksen went down and he spoke World Sport's Patrick Snell.


TIM SPARV, FINLAND CAPTAIN: It was a very emotional day for everyone. I think, initially, it was shock, disbelief. You know, when you saw Christian lying on the ground, motionless, I mean that picture that I still have in my head, that's so, you know, disturbing and you really feared the worst here. You thought that he was going to die. So, yes, it was very, very emotional. And yeah, we're just happened and glad that he's doing fine and that he's -- you know, that he is alive and well, and you know, hopefully can make a quick recovery.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: There was much debate over whether you should have played or not. You say you're speaking with Kasper Schmeichel. Denmark's Martin Braithwaite criticizing UEFA. UEFA saying in a statement Monday, Tim, the decision was made quote, "following the quest made by players of both teams." Was it the right call to play on?

SPARV: We had two bad options. It was either we start the game that evening or a play the following day. And so, I think, looking forward -- and because this is something that will probably happen again no matter how many tests do you make, it will happen again, and I hope that we have some kind of regulation of how to proceed when it does.

SNELL: Yes, those words really resonates with me, Tim, that this could, this might, this very well indeed will happen again.


What lessons need to be learned? What might have been an acceptable potential options -- you say there were two bad options, what might have work or should it just the whole have been cancel and straps all together that match?

SPARV: I think that is a very difficult question. I don't have any answer. I don't know what a sensible alternative would have -- would have looked like. Should the game have been canceled? Shouldn't have been, you know, zero-zero draw? Both team gets one point? Maybe. Maybe that's something. But no, I think it is difficult. This is something that we need to think about together, and then hopefully, you know, the big organizations can make some kind of decision going forward. SNELL: We saw the impact it took on your Danish players who formed the ring to protect Christian there on the pitch of the time. Your players as well must have been feeling the emotions there. Were they -- how are they impacted? How are they feeling? Fighting back tears themselves I would imagine?

SPARV: Yes, we definitely had players crying, players who were very emotional. It was -- I think this is the kind of experience that will stay with you forever. I mean, no matter if you are in the pitch or in the stands, or watching from home. I think, you know, this picture in your head when you see Eriksen lying on the ground motionless, I think, this is -- this will never go away.

So, it was a traumatic experience, and I just -- you know, personally, I hope that everybody is getting the help that you might need in a situation like this. I mean -- I'm sure that there were a lot of kids watching the game, and you know, will have some questions off to something like this.

So, I hope that you know, all the parents are -- they are speaking to their children and explaining what happened. And yes, because, you know, from a mental perspective it's a very tough one because, of course, this is -- this was a matter of life and death. Football is very insignificant when it comes to something like this.


CHURCH (on camera): And this just in, minutes ago, Christian Eriksen updated his Instagram account, thanking everyone for all of the messages of support. He says, he feels fine under the circumstances, but still has to undergo some test at the hospital. Eriksen is vowing to cheer on his teammates, and is asking them to play for all of Denmark.

We wish him the best. And before we go, we sent our love and support to our friend and colleague, Christiane Amanpour. She made this announcement on CNN, Monday.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Like millions of women around the world, I have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I've had successful major surgery to remove it, and I am now undergoing several months of chemotherapy, for the best, possible, long-term prognosis. I'm fortunate to have health insurance through work, and incredible doctors who are treating me in a country underpinned by the brilliant NHS.

I'm telling you all this, of course, in the interest of transparency, but in truth, mostly as a shout out to early diagnosis to urge women to get all of the regular screenings and scans you can, to listen to your bodies, and of course, to ensure that year legitimate medical concerns are not dismissed or diminished.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH (on camera): And we offer all of our support to Christiane,

and her family. We are all rooting for you, and love you. Well, the news continues after this short break.