tv Worldfocus WHUT September 18, 2009 10:30pm-11:00pm EDT
tonight on "worldfocus" -- >> the russians praise president obama's decision to cancel a e defense system in eastern europe. and nato suggests its linking its missile defenses with russia's. new anti-government protests in iran and harsh, new words from president ahmadinejad, who continues to deny the holocaust. we'll take you to france where asylum seekers from iraq and afghanistan endure squalid conditions in hopes of finding a better life. and we will visit israel and show you what's being touted as the latest prescription for good health -- salt therapy. from the world's leading reporters and analysts, here's what's happening from around the
world. this is "worldfocus." made possible in part by the following funders -- major support has also been provided by the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing kehallenges facing america's future. good evening. i'm daljit dhaliwal. tonight we're going to focus on america's relations with russia and iran -- after that important decision yesterday by president obama not to base a missile defense system in the former soviet-bloc countries of poland and the czech republic. russia viewed the shield as a threat, and today its president, vladimir putin, praised president obama's decision to cancel it. and the nato secretary-general suggested new cooperation between russia and
the alliance. in tonight's lead focus, the reaction from russia and beyond. we start our reporting with itn's samira ahmed. >> to protect the u.s. homeland -- >> reporter: a sign of weakness or a fresh start for american-russian relations? nato's secretary-general announced today that president ssile defense shield was the latter. >> it is possible for nato and russia to make a new beginning and to enjoy a far more productive relationship in the future. we should explore the potential for linking the u.s. nato and russian missile defense systems at an appropriate time. >> reporter: russia's president medvedev welcomed the decision last night. and prime minister putin called it a "correct and brave decision," adding that he expected further warming of relations with the u.s., enabling russia, kazakhstan and belarus to join the world trade organization.
a new tone has emerged from north korea, too, overnight. just months after defying a ban to test fire long-range ballistic missiles and an underground nuclear test, president kim jong-il has told a chinese envoy they want to restart negotiations. >> please help me in welcoming home -- >> reporter: pyongyang's recent release of two american journists now looks like credit banked for this moment, though south korea's foreign minister was deeply skeptical. >> translator: now that north korea is in possession of new weapons, they intend to have u.s.-north korea arms reduction talks, which america must not accept. korea, through this, is trying to get u.s.-north korea peace treaty and, moreover, a removal of u.s. armed forces in south korea. >> reporter: and then there's iran. lying, along with north korea, on what president obama's predecessor used to call the axis of evil, they too defiantly tested their sejill 2 ballistic missile a few months ago.
speaking to american television last night, president ahmadinejad said he was prepared for fresh talks, but insisted he'd never abandon a civil nuclear program. >> translator: today a new arrangement should be put in place based on new principles so that the world is directed towards peace and tranquility. no clear arms, we believe, they belong to the past and the past generation. >> reporter: president obama's critics in washington claim his unilateral declaration over changing the planned missile shield in eastern europe will embolden america's enemies. but events of the past 24 hours suggests his decision could be a fresh way to tackle the enduring problems of nuclear proliferation. >> samira ahmed of itn. and as you just heard, iran is prepared for new talks with
the united states and other world powers on its nuclear program. but today also brought some harsh, new rhetoric against israel and the west by president ahmadinejad. the occasion was an annual political event throughout the muslim world -- a show of solidarity for the palestinian cause. it's called quds day and in iran, it also brought out tens of thousands of demonstrators for -- and against -- the government. in tehran today, it appeared to be business as usual as tens of thousands of marchers joined a pro-government rally. they carried signs condemning both the united states and israel. later, in a speech before friday prayer at tehran university, ahmadinejad laced into israel, calling the holocaust a lie used to justify the jewish state. >> translator: with lies and propaganda, it was made up that the jews were oppressed. and needed independent territory. propaganda was so effective many have been deceived by them.
borzou daragahi is the middle east correspondent for the los angeles times. he's based in beirut, and has been monitoring today's events in tehran. >> the rhetoric was a little bit more heated, the talk about israel controlling the western government, a little bit more explicitly stated. he hasn't explicitly questioned the holocaust in a long time, and he did today. and, of course, this has a design behind it. he has found that making these sorts of comments on the international stage makes him stronger by allowing him to feed off of the negative energy he gets when iran is condemned. >> reporter: perhaps more notably, throngs of opposition protesters also turned out in tehran today. these pictures from the internet are believed to be of today's anti-government protests. >> this is extremely significant. this shows that, despite months of official violence, jailings,
torture, forced confessions aired on television, of harsh repression, no one has been cowed into submission. >> here, the protesters can be heard chanting "mir hossein" in support of opposition leader mir hossein mousavi. an english language iranian television channel aim west broadcast images of mousavi at today's rally. another prominent critic of the current iranian government, former iranian president cat ma'am mi also joined the anti-government protests. at one point, khatami was attacked by a group of hard-liners and shoved to the ground, one iranian website featured pictures of what's believed to be that attack. it was reported he left the march shortly afterwards. there were also reports of attacks on opposition protesters in other cities around iran. >> for more about the situation
in iran, we're joined by ervand abrahamian. he is a distinguished professor of history at the city university of new york. he was born in iran and has written several books about that country. welcome to the program. >> thank you. >> the islamic authorities haven't been able to stop the demonstrations. where do you see the situation = headed next? do you see it becoming more explosive? >> in the short term, i think the regime can handle the situation because they have the means of violence to control it, so the demonstrations might go on for a while. but it's not going the whole system. in the long run, though, i think they have a serious problem of legitimacy because, as long as the elections are considered rigged, the last elections, that means the democratic aspect of the republican is no longer there. so that's been very important for legitimacy for the last 30 years. so if people feel there is
really no more popular participation in politics, it's going to really question the whole legitimacy. >> and a few months back, the authorities seemed to be divided about how to deal with the protesters. what is the situation now? >> there are die-hards, like ahmadinejad would like to have arrest more people and be very tough with the opposition leaders, the very top leaders. but there is also, i think, resistance within the regime especially at the supreme leader's level that he wouldn't want to actually bring the top leaders of the opposition to trial. it's one thing arresting people around them, but to actually arrest mousavi and put them on trial would be very serious. >> talk about iran's nuclear program. united states has given iran until the end of the month to come to the table and negotiate.
do you see it compromising in the terms of the package of proposals its likely to put forward to western negotiators? >> it's a good opportunity for iran now, actually, to be forthcoming because the u.s. has moderated its position. it's position was that iran shouldn't have a nuclear program. the obama administration is willing to accept a nuclear program as long as iran can give guarantees that it's not actually interested in nuclear weapons. so all iran has to did is give verify. >> guarantees to the united nations. >> another foreign policy issue for iran, have you heard anything about the president's decision to reverse the deployment of the missile defense shield in europe, which is supposed to counteract the threat from iran, when it came to long-term missiles? >> yes, that's been well-received in iran but there is the underlying problem, which is the iranian government realizes that u.s., by doing
that, is trying to get russian support for a u.s. policy of pressuring iran. so it's a mixed blessing for iran. >> all right. thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you. we want to know what you think about all of this. our question tonight is -- do you think the obama administration is making a mistake by engaging ahmadinejad? tell us "how you see it" by going to the website at worldfocus.org. president obama's special envoy to the middle east, george mitchell, has had repeated meetings this week with israeli and palestinian leaders. those meetings continued today with israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu. and also with palestinian president mahmoud abbas. but the assessment from both the palestinians and israelis was not good. the chief palestinian negotiator said wide gaps remained between the two sides. and that raised doubts about the
possibility of a three-way meeting in new yk among netanyahu, abbas, and president obama, coinciding with meeting of the united nations general assembly. one day after six italian soldiers were killed in a bombing in afghanistan, the attack continued to reverberate in italy today. the suicide attack happened in kabul and brought to at least 20 the number of italians lost in afghanistan. italy has about 3,000 troops there and has had a strong commitment to helping the news united states in the conflict. but today, prime minister silvio ni said there needs to be what he called a "transition strategy" to give the afghan government more responsibility. yesterday, he went much further. >> translator: we are all
convinced that the best for all involved is to leave as soon as possible, to no longer have a presence there. >>lict in afghanistan deepens, one aspect of the war hasn't gotten much attention -- the thousands who leave afghanistan in search of asylum elsewhere. one place they want to go is great britain, and to get there, many wait for their chance across the english channel. in the coastal french city of calais. there, they live in a squalid camp, determined to smuggle themselves aboard trucks heading to the united kingdom. but now, french authorities plan to destroy the camp, as we hear in this report from phillip williams of abc australia. >> reporte they call it the jungle for good reason, where hundreds of would-be asylum seekers camp as they try to get to britain, and this is how they do we filmed this ooh temp a few weeks ago. the trucks board the ferry and in a couple of hours they can be in what they consider the promised land. >> london, london.
>> reporter: but now the british and french authorities say, all this has to go, the asylum seekers are being told to pack up their positions and leave. one spoke on condition his face wasn't shown. >> the french minister says we are destroying >> they say we are destroying the jungle but never says what will happen to us. we are frightened about the future, about our lives, you know. >> reporter: no one wants to say here any longer than it takes to jump a truck but for some, that can be months in the most squalid conditions. >> i have visit refugee camps in many parts of the world but never seen conditions such as this. people have no medical help, they have no running water, they cannot wash. and the conditions here are just appalling. >> reporter: attempts to move asylum seekers on have failed . a few years ago, they were housed in a massive shed outside calaiss run by the red cross.
and the british pressure that closed only for the jungle to take its place. and that's the problem. for as long as britain is a desirable destination, people smugglers will oblige. they can bulldoze th it's likely another just like it will reappear somewhere close and the human trafficking will continue. phillip williams, abc news, london. time now for our friday round table discussion of some of the week's top stories. we will look at president obama's reversal on a missile defense plan for europe and what went into his thinking on change. is the united states gaining the upper hand or not in the battle against islamic militants as more suspected al qaeda and taliban leaders are targeted and killed? and we'll assess this week's
united nations's report on the war in gaza, which charges that conduct by israel and the palestinian militants amounted to war crimes. joining us once again carla robbins, deputy editorial page editor of "the new york times," and david andelman, a former foreign correspondent for "the new york times" and cbs news, and now editor of world policy journal. good to see both of you. welcome to the program. >> thanks for ha >> what are the big stories this week, president obama's reversal on the missile defense shield for central eastern europe. give us your sense of what you think went into his thinking on making that change. >> well, really, i think a lot had to do looking at realities of the situation on the ground and the reality is that the missile defense plan -- missile defense shield as planned probably wouldn't have done anything. it would have been another one of these sort of abm systems that star war systems, if you will, never able to shoot down anything. the technology has been moving,
there's no question about that. in political terms without question a lot of the central europeans, particularly the polish people have begun to move away from this kind of thinking that they need to have this american shield to defend them against russia. they need to really kind of not embrace russia, at least deal with them in some fashion. the fear, i think, this was partitioning europe seriously at a time when that really would not work very well. so it was time to get out of this about. >> right. carla, what do you think informed the president's decision on this? >> i think he was never a big enthusiast about missile defense would work. the intelligence out of iran has been changing. they're focusing on producing short and medium range missiles. this would not have defended against short and medium range missiles. and the point that he made yesterday, and secretary gates, who was once a big champion of the bush plan made yesterday, was that they can put it in place faster, it will address the threat that
let's not forget the pols put troops in iraq, they didn't get the deals they wanted on visas. the bush administration undermined nato. these countries worked so hard to get into nato and nato was a club nobody wanted to be in. so there is a lot of complaining on all sides. this is fixable diplomatically. it makes a huge amount of sense to me strategically.
>> you have to understand, we had an interesting piece in our current issue of world policy journal from a distinguished polish commentate who are observed that most of the pollic people a large majority of the pollic people did not want the plan to begin with they did not want to get backed into the position as they were in the cold war being the target. >> let's move on to the administration's approach of targeting and killing militants. there were a couple of notable successes this week what does it really add up to in the end? >> well, i think it adds up to the fact that we are being more successful in targeting al qaeda and al qaeda elements all over the world, no question about that. the question is, what impact is that going to have? al qaeda in recent years has acted as a franchise than a direct operate nifb man -- operative in many of these parts of the world. they're franchising separations out. it's becoming more fragmented in different parts of the world. we are fighting really mini wars on a whole lot of different fronts. this goes as diplomatic as well as military challenges.
we have to get governments like somalia, which is a, you know, sometime questionable state to begin with, to approve of our going into help us, at least not thwart that. >> is that why we're having -- partly having more successes because there is greater cooperation? >> in some places. i think the intelligence is there and you get lucky and knock some guys off and that's great news. but then you've got to do that for a very long time. the challenge is not to be creating more militants while we're killing off a few of them and that's why we have to solve the problems in iraq and afghanistan, a lot of other issues of perception of the united states around the world. >> just want to round up our discussion by talking about the united nations report in gaza which blamed israel and palestinian militants as conduct which was -- could amount to committing war crimes. what do you think is the most important thing that came out of the report for you in terms of the peace process and where we go next? >> i think it should be a warning to both sides and
particularly to the israelis, because they have -- they're at the table or potentially at the table, which is sort of asymmetric warfare. nobody wibs with it, and a lot of civilians lose, and that's a reason why you don't what to have another war. we've had two wars in the last three years.the peace process h start again. the israelis are furious about the report, furious about pressure from the obama administration about settlements. but in the end of the day, unless there's negotiations and some sort of a peace agreement between the palestinians and the israelis, we're going to have these horrific, horrific wars are going to continue. >> very briefly, unfortunately the timing is unfortunate, just as we were really wore i think in some fashion trying to get a condo men judge between all of the different sides in middle east and working very hard to do that, this kind of report doesn't really help it. >> it came at the wrong time. >> it came at the wrong time, exactly. >> is when it was going to come out. right. you also made an interesting point about accountability. i mean, talk about that.
>> there is a need for accountability. we have to know what happens. if governments are not willing to investigate themselves, certainly hamas has not been willing to investigate what it's been doing, the killing of ifly civilians and the israeli government has refused to admit the level of suffering and civilian death that took place in the gaza war. so the accountability is a good thing. justice goldstone is a responsible jurist and investigator but the bottom line's got to be, the israelis say it's asymmetric warfare, we can't help it if we kill civilians. the only way to move forward is with a peace settlement. have to leave it there. thank you very much for joining us. >> thanks for having us. as celebrations of rosh hashana, the jewish new year, begin this evening, president obama issued a message renewing his call for peace between israel and its arab neighbors.
and we're going to end the week with a different view of israel life -- a peaceful and relaxing place on the dead sea. for all the talk about how salt isn't good for you, those who believe in the curative powers of the sea and its salt beg to differ. arieh o'sullivan of media line went to have a look. >> reporter: man has long sought to use nature's resources for their therapeutic value. nowhere is this more visible than here at the dead sea, where people have come for thousands of years to benefit from the minerals found in the mud and the curative powers believed to be contained in its salty water. >> it is a bit itchy and it's warm, but it feels quite good. they told me that it can do some good for the skin. >> translator: when you leave here, your skin is soft as a baby's bottom. your soul, as it's as if you were born yesterday. new and clean. like an angel.
>> reporter: the dead sea is the lowest spot on earth. despite this geographical significance, people come from around the world to breathe its salty air and treat skin diseases. but the world's largest natural spa is quickly disappearing. while efforts are under way to prevent the sea from drying up, people are already seeking alternatives. at hadassah hospital in jerusalem, patients are now being offered speleotherapy, which treats conditions such as asthma using the dead sea's key en this boy gets his weekly treatment his knows that all he has to do is sit on a comfy chair and play his computer game. >> it's kind of weird because it's made of salt, it's something very unusual. when i came here, i see this place is very nice. i feel less mucous. i feel better when i live here. >> reporter: aside from him, the
comfy chair and the computer game, everything in the room is made out of salt bricks. from the floor to the ceiling. the salt absorbb the lungs and dries out the excess mucous, and that is offering a new form of relief to suffers of respiratory illnesses. >> i didn't have to swallow any pill. i didn't have to rub any ointment on my body. i didn't have to read any package to see what's in this, is there anything that can harm me. you sit in a room and breathe. it doesn't get more natural than that. >> reporter: salt rooms are popular in eastern europe and are now starting to be popular in israel. it's a question of time before speleotherapy is in the united states, too. >> this is something that will be in the u.s. and it's going to be big. we consider this right now the biggest thing you've never heard of. >> reporter: from jerusalem, this arieh o'sullivan for the immediate line. >> and that is "worldfocus" for this friday night and this week. i'm daljit dhaliwal. in new york. a reminder to tell us what you think by visiting our website, worldfocus.org.
for the entire "worldfocus" news team have a good night and a great weekend. i'll see you back here on monday. >> "worldfocus" is made possible in part by the following funders -- major support has also been provided by the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economichallenges facing america's future.