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Putin and Biden Meet Face to Face; Supreme Leader Encourages People to Vote in Election; Shoddy Construction Led to Deadly Rail Collapse; Putin & Biden Meet Face to Face, Issue Praise and Warnings; Hong Kong Police Arrest Pro-Democracy Newspaper Directors; Militants Float More Incendiary Balloons Into Israel; Japan PM Suga to Decide Thursday on Lifting State of Emergency. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired June 17, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Studio 7 at CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.

Ahead this hour, the summit is officially over. The critics are rolling in. Hear from someone who gave Joe Biden advice just before the meeting.

We are following reports from the crackdown in Hong Kong. A live report is just ahead.

And if you're watching from parts of Europe, you might know what I'm about to say, it's hot. How's the weather looking for the weekend? Our meteorologist is standing by.


VAUSE: While he says he did what he came to do in Geneva, and now, Joe Biden is back in Washington for his first presidential summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

The meeting was seen as an early test for Biden on how he would manage relations with Russia. U.S. officials spent days before the summit, downplaying expectations, warning ahead there would be no diplomatic breakthroughs, no significant agreements, no deliverables as they like to say. And expectations were in fact met.

Both leaders emerging after just a few hours to say the meeting was constructive and positive, adding there were no threats or ultimatums. Putin has been a constant presence during four U.S. administrations, Biden is his 5th U.S. president, who Putin described as balance, professional, experienced.

He said the meeting was aimed at achieving results. Those results were best described as low hanging fruit, like returning the Russian and U.S. ambassador to the diplomatic posts.

But still, there are deep divisions in this relationship and CNN's Phil Mattingly begins our coverage.



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, President Biden emerging from the highest stakes moment of his young presidency, satisfied.

BIDEN: It was important to meet in person, so there could be no mistake about or misrepresentations about what I wanted to communicate. I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia, or anyone else. It's for the American people.

MATTINGLY: The summit, that started with a long awaited handshake, came to a close after roughly 3 hours of direct talks between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Biden departing a scenic backdrop, steeped in diplomatic history, with no shortage of open questions, still outstanding, as the U.S. and Russia seek to emerge from a low point in post-Cold War relations.

BIDEN: This is not about trust, this is about self interest and verification of self interest. That's what it's about.

MATTINGLY: Biden Atlanta red lines on cyberattack to become a pervasive in recent years, specifically outlining 16 entities defined as critical infrastructure, that both sides should agree are off limits.

BIDEN: The principle is one thing, it has to be backed up by practice.

MATTINGLY: With that caution, also laying out the scale of the potential U.S. response.

BIDEN: I pointed out to him, we have a significant cyber capability, and he knows it. He doesn't know exactly what it is, but it's significant. And if, in fact, they violate these basic norms, we will respond.

MATTINGLY: And these ransomware attacks buckled several critical American companies in recent weeks, this is not so subtle note.

BIDEN: I looked at him and said, how would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields? He said it would matter.

MATTINGLY: But Putin in his own press conference continued to deflect on the U.S. intelligence has explicitly attributed to his country.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): As for American sources, they have said that most of the cyberattacks in the world are carried out from the cyber realm of the United States.

MATTINGLY: And as Putin inclined to even say Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's name, Biden had this stark warning should he die in prison. BIDEN: I made it clear to him, that I believe the consequences of

that would be devastating, for Russia.

MATTINGLY: But both leaders describe the tone of the two sessions is businesslike.

PUTIN: I think that both of these sides showed a willingness to understand one another and to find ways to bring our positions closer together.

MATTINGLY: And productive.

BIDEN: There wasn't any strident action taken.


It was not done in a hyperbolic atmosphere, that is too much of what's been going on.

MATTINGLY: A litany of issues addressed from areas designated for future engagement to matters where the two sides have firmly divergent perspectives. Biden's short term goal, to recalibrate the relationship.

BIDEN: We've established a clear basis on how we intend to deal with Russia and the U.S.-Russian relationship.

MATTINGLY: But Biden also leaning on a view that the U.S. sits in a stronger position than his counterpart, that a unified West can force a change calculation.

BIDEN: Understand when you run a country that does not abide by international norms and you need those international norms to be somehow managed, so that you can participate in the benefits and flow for them, it hurts you.

MATTINGLY: But it's a bet that many of Biden's predecessors have made before, with a limited success, underscoring a clear reality that the ultimate outcome of the summit will likely be known for months.

BIDEN: Let's see what happens. You know, as that old expression goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We're going to know shortly.


VAUSE: Thanks to Phil Mattingly there, reporting in from Geneva.

Well, for the most part, Democrats had early praise for Joe Biden's and Republicans had criticism.

U.S. Senate Democrat Jeanne Shaheen said: I was pleased to see President Biden stand his ground and sent a strong message that his administration would not turn a blind eye to Putin's belligerence.

And from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham: It is very disturbing to hear President Biden suggests that it would hurt Putin standing if people throughout the world believed he interfered in our election. It is clear to me that Putin could care less about how he's viewed by others. I believe President Biden has miscalculated who he is dealing with.

Angela Stent is the director of the Center for Eurasia and Russian and East European studies and a former U.S. nationalist intelligence officer on Russia, advising Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. She's author of the book Putin's world and more recently, was one of a small number of Russian experts who prepped President Joe Biden before the Geneva summit.

Angela, it's quite the resume, and we are glad you are with us. Thanks for taking the time.


VAUSE: Okay. First, what did you advise Joe Biden to do and not to do? Did he follow that advice? And, overall, how did you grade this first one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin?

STENT: Well, I would say that President Biden has had a lot of experience with Russia and so, he knew what he was getting into. He had I think a clear vision of what he wanted to do. So I would give him a pretty good grade, maybe an A-minus.

He wanted to go there and establish guardrails, that is to say to trying to lower the temperature and to try and come to enough of an agreement with President Putin so that there wouldn't be constant escalation of crisis. At least you find a mechanism that beginning to reengage again, I think he did that quite well.

I think there were two main things that the Biden administration wanted, that's the reestablishment, the diplomatic relations to ambassadors that will now go back having been out of country for more than three months.

The second was the reengagement on a strategic stability talks, that is talks to lessen or contain nuclear escalation.

VAUSE: What did he need to do to get A?

STENT: Well, I think to get an a, there would have probably have had to be more of a sense that there was possibly agreement on the more contentious issues. Maybe that was impossible. If you look at what happened in the press conferences, clearly, Putin was sitting back on all the questions of human rights, cyber interference, of what was happening in Ukraine, and President Biden was reiterating what the United States stands for in terms of human rights and disagreeing with Putin. So maybe it would have been impossible to get a.

VAUSE: There was a sort of plan here to avoid making ultimatums and talk of consequences, but President Biden did that. He had over a list of 16 areas which he told Putin are off limits to cyberattacks.

Here's President Biden, listen to this.


BIDEN: I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack, period, by cyber or any other means. I gave them a list. And if I'm not mistaken, I don't have in front of me, 16 specific entities, 16 defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy sector to our water systems.


VAUSE: Biden did go on to say that the U.S. will respond with its own cyber offensive capabilities if their future Russia linked to cyberattacks, but he did not talk of how the U.S. would respond, just specifically what it would do, what that action would look like and when it would happen?


Was it all a bit too vague? I mean, someone needs to know what the repercussions will be as a way of deterrence, right?

STENT: Well, I think in the cyber realm, you can't be specific. I mean, first of all, he'd be, you know, disclosing information that the public should know and won't know.

And I think this will be the test of whether this A-minus will last. There will be talks on cyber. They said they're going to engage in that.

He did set these red lines for cyber. Let's see if the Russians comply with that. Let's see if there's a diminution of both state sponsored cyber attacks, and then all of these ransomware attacks by criminals, who live in Russia.

VAUSE: There's a lot of talk now that Vladimir Putin will determine if the sort of attack will be a success for Joe Biden by Putin's actions in the next coming weeks and months. That's if you look at the summit in isolation. But the fact that before the summit, Joe Biden had this very successful European tour, winning over European allies to confront China.

If Biden had no plans to take on food and face to face, would he have been asked successful on getting Europeans to back him on China?

STENT: Well, I think the Europeans backed him on some extent to China, right, maybe not as much as he wanted. I think it's very important that he went to Europe first, after the previous administration, recommitting the United States to its NATO alliance, to its working together with the European Union, they're going to have a joint group now that's going to discuss and plan a Russia policy.

And, of course, with the G7, too. So, I think that was very important and that enabled him I think to go and meet with Putin. I don't think that -- I mean, there are some people in the NATO alliance, Central Europeans maybe who are more wary of this in the Baltic States. But the rest of them certainly back them up on that.

VAUSE: Angela Stent, thank you so much. It's great to have you with us. We really appreciate it.

STENT: Thank you.

VAUSE: Hundreds of police in Hong Kong have again raided the pro- democracy "Apple Daily" newspaper. Five executives, including the editor-in-chief arrested, accused of colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security.

Police searched the paper's building armed with warrants, allowing the seizure of journalistic materials. The newspaper founder Jimmy Lai already faces charges under sweeping national security law, is facing a sentence of unauthorized assemblies in the 2019 protests.

CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson in Hong Kong with more on this.

So, just specifically, what more do you know about these warrants, which illegally allow police to gather evidence from reporters' computers, as well as their phones?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's exactly that, they are saying that this is all allowed as part of these arrest warrants. I believe the first time that we've seen a warrant that kind of authorizes going after journalistic materials as part of these investigations. But the end result is that the headquarters, the newsroom of one of Hong Kong's most popular newspapers is now a crime scene according to the police, as you mentioned.

They have said some 500 police officers were a part of this raid. It's the second raid in two years of "Apple Daily". And this time, a number of chief executives of the newspaper, at least five of them arrested and now charged under the national security law, that controversial law that was imposed last year, and triggered a lot of condemnation of criticism from democracies around the world, that this was a sign that Hong Kong's freedoms and autonomy were being eroded.

Take a listen to part of what a police superintendent had to say outside the offices of the newspaper.


STEVE LI KWAI-WAH, SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT, HONG KONG POLICE: The nature of the articles is very simple. Just inciting, requesting the foreign country to impose sanctions to Hong Kong and the people of the Republic of China. Very straightforward.


WATSON: Now, I do need to point out that individual, that officer came under U.S. actions last year accused a politically motivated arrests.

The secretary of security here in Hong Kong, John Lee, also went on to accuse the suspect of being part of a conspiracy, again, inciting foreign countries and enemies of Hong Kong, and China as he put it to impose sanctions on this country, and accused them of publishing articles going back to 2019, that were kind of inciting these sanctions.

The secretary of security here, John Lee, also under U.S. sanctions, one of a number of top Hong Kong officials and Chinese officials who were punished by the U.S. for again, allegedly eroding Hong Kong's freedoms. So basically, part of a broader crackdown on "Apple Daily" and its owner, Jimmy Lai, who was arrested and has been sentenced for several crimes, is also facing trial next week under the national security law, part of a much broader crackdown on opposition, activists, political opposition in the city, the press as well.


Though the police insist, this is not an attack on press freedoms in this former British colony -- John.

VAUSE: Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson, senior international correspondent in Hong Kong, thank you.

A big step forward for China and to the complete construction of a space station by the end of next year, this launched about 4 hours ago. It's sending the first astronauts to what's known as the module, the core of what will eventually be a space station. Three astronauts will spend three months in orbit, setting a new record for China's space program.

Well, for more on this launch and China space station ambitions, Steven Jiang joins us now from Beijing.

This is another example of China's space program, which is moving ahead at leaps and bounds, just gets faster all the time?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, John, as you mentioned. That was a picture perfect launch they had. We saw the three astronauts give their final wave before entering the spaceship, and then that rocket, Long March, blasted off in near perfect visibility.

And the ride so far has been soft. We know the spaceship has separated from the rocket entered orbit. It's going to make a few more adjustments for lining up for docking. And that docking is expected to take place in just three hours. So, the whole journey is only about six and a half hours, not that much longer than a transcontinental flight to the U.S.

But these astronauts' final destination obviously far more incredible as you mentioned. Once they were docked, they're going to be spending 3 months in the main living section of the core module they launched, conducting experiments testing and installing equipment, and also, preparing this model for further expansion. Remember, this is only the 3rd of 11 total missions aimed at complete this project.

Now, they are doing this on their own because they have long been excluded from the international space station that due to U.S. objections. In 2011, the U.S. Congress actually passed a law to prohibit NASA from conducting almost any cooperation with the Chinese at of national security concerns. Critics have long linked China space program to its rising military ambitions.

When you look at these three astronauts, actually, they're all seasoned pilots and officers from the People's Liberation Army, the commander actually holding the rank of a major general. But the Chinese have said because of the U.S. blockade, they have been forced to make a virtue of necessity. They have been compelled to develop their own indigenous technologies, innovations and scientific breakthroughs. It is the breakthroughs and innovations, that have enabled them to, for example, shorten the journey for these astronauts this time from two days to just six and a half hours, also have a lot more automation and remote controlled systems on board to reduce the pressure on the astronauts.

Once they are station because I've been running, they could potentially become the only working space station in orbit, because the international stays patient is actually approaching the end of its functional life, really giving the Chinese a little leg up in this new race and space, between the South and the U.S. -- John.

VAUSE: Steven, thank you.

One other point here, they streamed it live on CCTV, pretty confident everything would go right.

Steven Jiang there in Beijing, thank you.

Less than six weeks remaining until the start of the Tokyo Olympics, with new cases of COVID-19 on the decline, Japan's prime mister says he will soon decide if a state of emergency will be lifted, a live report on that in Tokyo. And a Japanese e-commerce company, looking for ways to speed up the country's vaccination process, an exclusive report. That's ahead.



VAUSE: There is no response yet from the Israeli military for a second day of incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza. These attacks have been taking place for years, usually helium balloons are attached with explosive devices or preemptively lit on fire. The latest started at least for more fires and farmlands on southern Israel, Israel respond with airstrikes on Hamas targets in Gaza on Wednesday, after an initial round of attacks.

Journalist Elliott Gotkine live this hour in Jerusalem.

So, what will expect the response here from the IDF, if they took out Hamas targets on Wednesday? Surely, something's coming.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Well, for now as you say John, they haven't responded to these balloons and there are multiple Palestinian and Israeli media reports, suggesting that Israel is through the Egyptians passing a message to Hamas that if they continue that things will escalate and that Israel will start taking out Hamas operatives.

But for now, it hasn't responded and I think responding to these incendiary balloons which have been happening on and off since 2018 rarely, and they set fire according to the Israeli parks in nature reserve authority to more than three and a half thousand acres of fields, nature reserves and farms in the surrounding area of Gaza.

And in the past, Israel hasn't responded with this kind of measures with air strikes, but it did in the wake of the conflict last month. It did say that there would be a powerful response to both rockets and incendiary balloons, any other forms of attacks coming out from the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip.

And I suppose to that end, and when you've got a prime minister who has criticized ex-Prime Minister Netanyahu's response to guys in the past, he got a defense minister is the same as the defense minister there wasn't any previous government, is perhaps no surprise that they're making good on the promise.

VAUSE: Elliott, thank you. Elliott Gotkine in Jerusalem, thank you.

Well, there it is, the countdown, the Tokyo Summer Olympics just 36 days away, 5 hours, 37 minutes, 7 seconds.

The Japanese prime minister says new COVID cases have been declining and he'll decide on Thursday, if a state of emergency will be lifted for Tokyo, which is set to expire this coming Sunday. If it is lifted, Japan officials say that may pave the way to allow 10,000 spectators to attend Olympic events. Right now, they're cap is set at 5,000, but all of them domestic, no international specters at this point allow to attend.

CNN's Blake Essig is live in Tokyo with more on this.

And they're now talking about maybe these vaccine passports, how did those play in to, you know, the spectators and what's set to happen?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you know, John, we're just learning information with his vaccine passport might look like. On the vaccine front, only about 15 percent of the Japanese population has received one dose of the vaccine, about 6 percent have received two doses and are fully vaccinated. The rollout is slowly start to pick up a place.

A local broadcaster NHK is reporting that starting in July, Japan will start issuing vaccine passports. Now, this passport would include the traveler's name, nationality, passport number, and vaccination date, and would only be issued based on vaccination records.

Now, people who have been vaccinated will be issued the certificates, the government also said that they are considering a digital version of these certificates. So, it'll be interesting to see how that rolls out, as we move forward and exactly what these vaccine passports will offer access to. But as far as what's happening today, Tokyo and several of the prefectures have been living under a state of emergency since the end of April. The decision to remove, or instituted quasi- save emergency for the 10 prefectures where restrictions are already in place, will actually impact the Olympics.


Now, generally speaking, under a quasi-state of emergency order, bars and restaurants are still last to close by 8:00 p.m., they can't serve alcohol, under a quasi-state of emergency they would be able to until 7:00 p.m., and finds a reduced for those that don't comply. Also, rather than impose measures on the entire prefecture, governors are allowed to target specific areas.

But again, regarding the Olympics, the decision today by the prime minister will go a long way determining in the number of spectators allowed to attend. Now, we know that foreign spectators have already been banned. At this point, no decision has been made regarding domestic fans.

But just yesterday, government officials reiterated that there will be a cap on spectators at big events, and that would include anywhere from 10,000 spectators that would be allowed if there's no state of emergency order in effect, or 5,000 spectators that would be allowed to attend an event if a state of emergency order is in effect. Of course, we would either be 5,000 or half of the capacity for whatever venue it is, whatever figure is lower. And that decision again is going to be up to Prime Minister Suga.

Now either way this is a clear sign that local spectators will likely be allowed to attend Olympic events. Organizers say final decision, John, will be expected later this month.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig there in Tokyo.

Well, the Japanese government is now want to dramatically ramp up vaccinations, hoping to reach 1 million doses per day by the end of this month.

CNN's Selina Wang has more now on how the vaccine rollout might just finally be picking up a little pace.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pro soccer players online consultations a speedy tech process. The CEO of e-commerce giant Rakuten think he has got the solution to the speed of Japan's sluggish vaccines rollout.

HIROSHI MIKITANI, RAKUTEN CEO: I think we are probably 3-5x more efficient than other vaccination centers.

Hopefully, you know, that Kobe would become the role mode of entire Japan.

WANG: Rakuten, which owns the Vissel Kobe soccer team is working with Kobe City to vaccinate up to 7,500 people a day at the Noevir Stadium Kobe. Five weeks from the games, less than 6 percent of Japan is fully vaccinated.

MIKITANI: I'm not very supportive of hosting in the global Olympic event, but if they're going to do it, and then we need to really super accelerate the vaccinations as fast as possible.

WANG: In its first week, this center vaccinated more than 10, 000.

But Mikitani is attempting something much bigger.

MIKITAMI: I'm hoping that we can open more vaccination centers all over Japan. Let us do like maybe 500,000 shots per day.

WANG: Premier Yoshihide Suga has pledged to accelerate Japan's rollout.

YOSHIHIDE SUGA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): From October to November of this year, I hope to finish vaccinating all the people who need and want to be vaccinated. I want to realize this.

WANG: Vaccinations for the broader population start later this hour voices, including at big companies like Rakuten, and Softbank and at universities.

In this war room, Rakuten employees are brainstorming ideas to quicken the pace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look at from the registration to actually getting vaccinated, we only take about 4 minutes and we're trying to think how can reduce 3 seconds, 5 seconds, 10 seconds.

WANG: A major bottleneck in Japan's vaccine rollout is a lack of medical staff to administer the doses. But here, staff from and local universities are helping, and some pre-screenings are conducted online.

With Rakuten's help, Kobe aims to finish vaccinating those 65 and older by mid July. That's ahead of the central government's schedule and before the Olympics.

I'm really, really to be vaccinated here, she tells me. I want to have a normal life again and be with people. Last month, COVID-19 cases in Kobe were surging, the city council its local marathon. Cases have been declining, but the city remains under a state of emergency.

KIZO HISAMOTO, KOBE MAYOR (through translator): We are seeing more of the new strains circulating in the city, so we cannot let our guard down and we have to encourage the citizens to continue taking all precautions.

WANG: Many medical experts continue to warn that the games pose a risk to the Japanese population. The majority will still be unvaccinated when the games begin.

I don't think the Olympics need to be held, he says. There will be so many coming into Japan that will probably go out and to give us infections. In the meantime, Kobe City, along with Rakuten, is racing to protect

its residents.

Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


VAUSE: Well, at a news conference after the Geneva summit, CNN's Matthew Chance pressed the Russian president on some very key issues.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT: Throughout these conversations, did you commit to ceasing carrying out cyberattacks on the United States?


VAUSE: Mr. Putin's response to that and other questions when we come back.



VAUSE: Welcome back.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause.

Well, as far as President Joe Biden is concerned, he came to Geneva, met with Vladimir Putin and in his words did what he had to do. Both leaders say the three hours of face to face talks were mostly positive without any big breakthroughs.

Biden covered (ph) cyberattacks, human rights, and the case of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Putin says the meeting was constructive and praised Joe Biden his fifth U.S. president since Putin came to power in Russia in 2000.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: If you ask me, what kind of partner, to look at President Biden is I would say that he is very balanced, professional man. It's obviously clear that he is very experienced.


VAUSE: Kind words only go so far and Putin gave no indication of a change in behavior was imminent.

CNN's Matthew Chance has more now reporting from Geneva.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHANCE (voice over): The historic summit started in chaos. Kremlin and White House press packs jostling for position. U.S. and Russian presidents themselves faced off inside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I hope that our meeting will be productive.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's always better to meet face to face.

CHANCE: Always better to meet face to face, he said. The words drowned out by the scuffle.

The undiplomatic start of this controversial meeting set the tone.

(on camera): Could you characterize the dynamic between yourself and President Biden? Was it hostile? Or was it friendly?

PUTIN: I think there is no hostility. Quite the contrary. We don't share the same positions in many areas. But I think that both of these sides showed a willingness to understand one another. And to find ways to bring our positions closer together.

CHANCE (voice over): But there are some things the two presidents will never agree on. Like the appalling treatment of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition figure who was poisoned then jailed, his anti- corruption campaign shut down. Russian military threats against Ukraine as well as cyberattacks emanating from Russia are also a major thorn in the relationship's side, something President Biden wants stopped.


CHANCE (on camera): Secondly, throughout these conversations, did you commit to ceasing carrying out cyberattacks on the United States. Did you commit to stopping threatening Ukrainian security? And did you commit to stop cracking down on the opposition in Russia?

PUTIN: As for cyber security, we reached an agreement chiefly, that we will start negotiations on that. I think that's extremely important.

CHANCE: It was only a partial answer. And the press conference almost moved on. But to his credit, President Putin took my follow up.

PUTIN: Were some of the questions not answered?

CHANCE: That's correct and thank you very much for coming back to me, sir.

Sir, there were two part of the question. The first one is did you commit in these meetings to stop threatening Ukraine. Remember the region this summit was called in the first place so the timing of it was when Russia was building up lots of forces (INAUDIBLE).

And the second -- second part of the question, and the third part of the question was did you commit to stopping your crackdown against he opposition groups inside Russia led by Alexei Navalny. PUTIN: Well, I didn't hear that part of the question. Maybe it wasn't interpreted or maybe you just decided to ask your second question.

CHANCE: On Ukraine, he restated the kremlin's line. About exercises on Russian soil being a threat to no one. And he again, refused to utter Alexei Navalny's name.

PUTIN: This person knew that he was breaching the laws effective in Russia. She should have noted that as a person who has confident too families.

I'd like to underscore that they deliberately ignored the (INAUDIBLE).

CHANCE: So far, there's no sign this summit has chanced President Putin's uncompromising stance.

Matthew Chance, CNN -- Geneva.


VAUSE: Iran's Supreme Leader is urging voters to turn out for Friday's presidential election. While many may be kept away because of fears of catching the coronavirus, it seems many in Iran are disillusioned by a choice of candidates handpicked by hardline conservatives.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Only hours ahead of the elections Iran's presidential candidates are trying to get out the vote. The events very small because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Front-runner hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, displaying confidence in saying he would remain in the nuclear agreement.

EBRAHIM RAISI, IRAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I say this honestly, we view the Uran nuclear deal as an agreement with nine articles that the supreme leader has approved.

We will stay committed to their cause as an agreement and commitment just like any deal which administrations have to be committed to.

PLEITGEN: The future of the Iran nuclear agreement is only one topic on the minds of many Iranians. The country is suffering under crushing sanctions opposed by the Trump administration and is still in the grasp of the coronavirus.

Iran's guardian council, the body that the candidates are vetted by disqualified many of those looking to run in the election. Giving Ebrahim Raisi a major boost but possibly also leading to low voter turnout.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we have to choose only the one - you have -- they're heading to their source. And we know him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm not interested in voting. Maybe I would have voted if they were different candidates. But now all of them are the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the killing of my people around me they want THE (INAUDIBLE) TOO AND THAT'S THE most people adopting you and I GET.

PLEITGEN: Even, Iran's Supreme Leader has criticized the many disqualitifications and is disqualified -- urging voters to come out and cast their ballots.

AYATOLLAYAL KHAMENEI (through translator): If we have low turnout the pressure of the enemy will be high. If we want the pressure and sanctions to diminish their must be high turnout and popular support of the system.

PLEITGEN: After 8 years of holding the president seat moderate forces appear t headed for major losses. Even as their main candidate hopes to pull off a lass minute surprise.

ABDOLNASER HEMMATI, IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe those who have said no to a ballot boxes will reverse their decision and they will change their idea in favor of voting for me and the trend over the last few days shows that my popularity is growing.

PLEITGEN: But after 8 years of fairly moderate government under president Hassan Rouhani Iran now seems set for a swing towards the conservatives if major implications for both Iran and its relations with if major implications for both Iran and its relations with the west.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Berlin.


VAUSE: Trita Parsi is the executive vice president for the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Before that he was with the National Iranian American Council. He's author of "Losing An Enemy: Obama, Iran, And The Triumph Of Diplomacy".

And Trita it's been a while. It is good to see you.


VAUSE: Ok. Here's a headline from "New York Times" this week about Friday's election. The best anyone can hope for with Iran is pretty bad.


VAUSE: So what's the least bad outcome here? And explain how did it get to a point where this approved list of candidates end up being stacked with hardline conservatives and then two unknowns who are best described as non conservatives? PARSI: The least bad outcome, at least from the perspective I would

say of the Biden administration that wants to see a revival of the JCPOA, potentially some degree of improvement of relations with Iran would be that the population changed their mind.

They actually do go out and vote and they put their vote behind Hemmati who is former head of the central bank, one of the two non- conservatives in the election.

But it's going to be tough. And as you mentioned the hardliners would long try to limit the options given to the people. And to try to concentrate all power in their own hands have for long done this. and this time around they've gone much further than they ever have before.

VAUSE: And you say the hardliners essentially in Iran has been sort of empowered by former president Donald Trump, who first proved that the U.S. cannot be trusted when he withdrew from the nuclear agreement.

And then the devastating impact on the economy from U.S. sanctions the maximum pressure campaign which sent the middle which supported moderates and engagement with the west to the poverty line.

To put these two tracks together, explain where it's now heading?

PARSI: Well, first of all what you have is, I mean the hardliners have always tried to do this. The question is not whether they try. The question is why are they now succeeding?

And the sanctions that Trump imposed on Iran has been absolutely devastating. It's been decimating the Iranian middle class which has been the main constituency of the moderates and those who want to see a different relation with the United States and the West as a whole.

Now, here's the thing, in the past we have seen this pattern before in which the public is apathetic. They don't see any candidate that they are particularly excited about but then in the last 48 hours something happens. They change their mind. They realize that at the end of the day boycotting the elections which seems to be a more popular this time around than before nevertheless essentially means that you see the entire territory through the hardliners.

And then they change their minds and they come out and vote. That's what happened to Rouhani in 2013. A week before the elections he was polling at 8 percent. On election day he won the election with 51 percent.

A dramatic change in just a couple of days. And that is potentially what we might be seeing this time around because one of the candidates Hemmati was a former head of the Central Bank is trying to repeat what Rouhani pulled off by essentially collecting all of the anti- establishment voters out there and trying to convince them to come out and vote for him.

VAUSE: On the hardline side, you have the man who could most likely be president and this is what the "Washington Post" reports. He believes in a severe interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence as the basis for the state and government, generally opposes opening up Iran to foreign investors, is hostile to engagement with the United States and diplomacy with the west.

So how much responsibility if he is elected to the presidency does the U.S. and the Europeans there for that rise to power and will he ultimately become Supreme Leader?

PARSI: Well, first of all, the fact that Trump imposed these devastating sanctions, pushing roughly more than 10 million Iranians into poverty, reducing the middle class in Iran from 45 percent to 30 percent which is primarily due to the sanctions, cannot be taken out of this equation.

It has had a huge role. Now keep also one other thing in mind, a lot of the people voted. They hoped that there would be a JCPOA. They pinned their hopes to the JCPOA bringing about an opening to the west. It was all working out fine, until Trump got elected and he pulled out.

And essentially vindicated one of the arguments of hard-liners which was you can't trust the United States. A lot of those people are staying home now because they just completely lost faith in the elections, in the system as a whole.

In regards to what will happen afterwards, in terms of relations with the west. It's not entirely known. Raisi has come out and said that he would implement the JCPOA for instance which is critical. Mindful of the effort that has been undertaken right now to revive it.

But when it comes to a broader engagement with the west, it doesn't seem to be his cup of tea. Now of course, presidents in Iran matter, but they're not the ultimate decision makers.

But as you point out, which seems to be the plan with Raisi is to fist give him some sort of popular legitimacy through being president in order to then make him the next supreme leader.

If he becomes the next supreme leader and if these assessments are correct, that he's going to be very hostile towards the west, now we are talking about potentially another two decades in which it's going to be very difficult to see meaningful improvements in the relations between the United States and Iran, and the west and Iran as a whole.

VAUSE: Trita, thank you. So as they say, a lot riding on this election, I guess. Trita Parsi there. Thank you.

PARSI: Thank you so much for having me.

VAUSE: Well, all votes have been officially counted but there's still no official winner in Peru's presidential election.

Conservative candidate Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of a former president trailing Pedro Castillo by a paper-thin margin.


VAUSE: The party is now scrutinizing ballots hoping to have enough thrown out to make up the deficit.


KEIKO FUJIMORI, PERUVIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do we trust the electoral bodies? Yes, but above all, we trust in the will of the people and we know that when they will analyze these irregularities, they will most probably agree with us.


VAUSE: Peru has no mechanism for a recount, but election officials Are obliged to review challenges to the vote totals before announcing the winner.

The first major heat wave of 2021 for Europe. Will it be a repeat of the sweltering summer just two years ago? We will see how close we are now to those heat records.

Also ahead we're getting our first details of what caused the deadly collapse of a commuter train in Mexico City. That report is to come.


VAUSE: Welcome back everybody.

You know, poor construction is believed to have contributed to last month's deadly collapse of a rail part for a commuter train in Mexico city.

More than two dozen people were killed. Dozens more were injured during this accident on May 4th. Experts tell CNN the accident was not a complete surprise because red flag incidents have plagued the line since it opened nearly a decade ago.

Details from Rafael Romo in Mexico City.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN LATIN AMERICA INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: It's one of the worst train accidents in Mexican history, and for the first time since it happened, independent investigators have released damning findings into what caused the May 4th elevated train collapse here in Mexico city that killed 26 people and left at least 79 injured.

According to the Mexico City Public Works and services security, the accident was caused by a structural failure due deficiencies due to deficiencies in the construction process.

The secretary was quoting the first preliminary report on the collapse, prepared by the DNV under and their regional risk management firms hired by the Mexican city government, to conduct an independent investigation,

According to the report, there were welding deficiencies in the metal studs connecting the steal beams to the concrete slab supporting the elevated train rails. There were also missing metal studs in some sections, different kinds of concrete used for the slab. And unfinished or poorly welded joints among other issues.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said her government is helping the families of the victims as well as those injured. She also said her goal is to do everything necessary so that Line 12 can operate again as soon as possible under conditions of maximum safety.

This was the first of three reports suspected to be released before the end of the summer. In addition to the independent investigation by DNV, the Mexico City attorney generals office, and the College of civil engineers of Mexico are conducting their own investigations.

Rafael Romo, CNN -- Mexico City.



VAUSE: Three days of heavy monsoon rains have triggered flash floods and landslides in parts of Nepal. Seven people are missing. One person has died. And many have been forced to leave their homes after rivers broke their (INAUDIBLE).

Well, the photo at the end of a summit is a tradition and this one projected an air of relative calm. But the scene on the other side of the cameras? That's a different story. We will have it when we come back.


VAUSE: Well, Europe in the grips of a major heat wave, the first for the year. Temperatures in parks are approaching records set back in 2019. Paris hit 34 degrees Celsius on Wednesday about 8 degrees cooler than the record of two years ago but still quite toasty. The good news for France at least, storms are expected to push out most of the heat.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is with us with more so rough calculations is 34 degrees, that's about -- 98 degrees Fahrenheit? Close to 100?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right. It's been incredible, you know, as you noted comparable in some areas to what we saw in 2019 John, and what we are seeing here, the atmospheric conditions absolutely ripe here for extreme heat.

We've got a dome of high pressure when we get these heat domes much like we're seeing across the western U.S. essentially acting as a lid on the atmosphere trapping the heat, causing the air to sink.

As air sinks, it likes to warm by compression and this is happening on a very large scale across portions of Europe. And it has been in western Europe where we've seen these conditions in recent days and the energy now shifting in towards eastern Europe where extreme heat has been in place. Packing (ph) 32, 33, and in some cases, closing in on 40 degrees over the past 24 or so hours. And the concern is all of this heat will gradually shift a little farther towards the east so if you are tuned in around berlin even as far east as areas around Moscow over the next couple of days we do expect the heat to begin to really surge in this region.

So some of those images coming out of places such as London, in Hyde Park, show you the folks breaking out the shorts, breaking out the t- shirts and in some cases getting out there and enjoying the warmth that's been in place.

And I'm here to tell you temperatures climbing up around 32 -- 33 degrees in portions of town. It's a big deal for anytime of year and you got to keep in mind summer officially arrives on Sunday.

So we're not even the start of summer yet and we're seeing this big time heat develop. All that heat again gradually shifts off towards the east. Notice western Europe, John noted there the storms beginning to come in that will allow those temperatures to cool off at least over the next several days.

And some of these storms could be severe around the southwestern area of Europe there as we go in from say Thursday morning -- Thursday night into Friday morning across those region.

So here we go with the storms again, scattered about this region. A level 2 in place there some of them will have severe areas of concern there where some large hail and some straight line winds are possible that could gust over 60 or 70 kilometers per hour.

But you know, talking about the warmth expanding to the east, our friends in Moscow I'm guessing some of these people enjoy these temperatures as it had been of course, a cool and unsettled last few months and we are finally climbing up into the thirties.

Berlin cooling off as we get in towards next week but in the interim big-time heat running more than 10 degrees above seasonal values here for the final days of spring.

And in Paris the storms coming but still a 30-degree afternoon before conditions cool off back down into the twenties, John. So the heat is on for some and building for others off towards the east.

VAUSE: I don't know anybody who enjoys those kind of temperatures but maybe you do. Thank you.


JAVAHERI: I'm a fan of heat but, you know, I represent portions of the Middle East, so I'm used to it.

VAUSE: It's all relative. Thanks mate.

Well, the scene of the U.S.-Russia summit was at a stately 18th century lakeside villa in Geneva. The water is said to have restorative powers. It was a (INAUDIBLE) backdrop for high stakes diplomacy conducted on the global stage.

But when it was all over and the news media gathered for a photo op, decorum -- that was just -- that just got shoved aside.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden ditched his jacket at the summit.

BIDEN: The sun is hot.

MOOS: Not as hot as things got out the photo op. Or even just getting into the photo op.

Security prevented some of the numbers of the pool from going in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need to get up with that camera though, guys, I'm in sound.

MOOS: Couldn't even hear President Biden and part of the time this photographer's big head was in the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you move? Because I can't get a shot up both of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you move, because we can't get a shot.

MOOS: That head reminded some of the Georgia down when it was about to be imploded. But then a bus pulled up and demolished the Weather Channels shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out of the way, bus.


MOOS: The head at the Biden-Putin photo-op was just as immovable. President Biden himself seemed somewhat bemused. While President Putin looked bored and kept drumming his fingers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're just sitting, the two leaders in there, looking at us like we're animals.

MOOS: But when the photo op ended the action really began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you, go away, please. Go away, please.

MOOS: Security physically lifted a still photographer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here. Stand up. Stand up.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guys, there's a cord here.

MOOS: the pool reporter said she was pushed multiple times nearly to the ground. We haven't seen shoving of this caliber since then President Trump pushed the prime minister of Montenegro to get to the front of a photo op, a shove that recently got the swapped heads treatment. May cooler heads prevail.


MOOS: Forget world peace. Just try to get through the photo op in one piece.

Jeanne moos, CNN --


MOOS: New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guys, there's a cord here.


VAUSE: All in a day's work.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. CNN NEWSROOM continues with my friend and colleague Anna Coren in Hong Kong after a short break.