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Gap in Iran talks bridgeable, says veteran American diplomat

November 21st, 2014
05:48 PM ET

By Henry Hullah, CNN

Failing to reach a deal on Iran’s nuclear program would create a very difficult situation for the United States, former U.S. diplomat Frank Wisner told Christiane Amanpour Thursday, but remained optimistic that the gaps could be bridged.

"Both sides are negotiating very seriously, The negotiators are extremely skillful; they've made progress on a number of vitally important points, so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed because the alternative is very difficult for all of us."

A seasoned negotiator, Wisner has been engaging with Iranians on what's called "Track Two" diplomacy in the latest attempts to broker a deal on sanctions and Iran’s nuclear capability.

Many have argued that no deal is better than anything but a very good deal; the Israeli Intelligence Minister told Amanpour that failure to reach a deal would be preferable to many alternatives.

“There is enormous value in keeping up the momentum and seeing if we can get a deal," Wisner said. "If we don't get a deal we have to be concerned about the effects.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Latest Episode • U.S. Politics

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Mikhail Kasyanov and Anissa Naouai

November 21st, 2014
05:37 PM ET

What follows is a full transcript of Christiane Amanpour's interview with Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and RT Host Anissa Naouai.


War of words over Russian policy

November 20th, 2014
03:35 PM ET

There is ostensibly a ceasefire in Ukraine, but since the Minsk Accord was signed in September, the OSCE says it's been breached some two and a half thousand times. There have been more than 4,000 deaths since April, according to the U.N..

As the deadly battle unfolds on the ground, a heated propaganda war is also being waged. Russia recently launched its “Sputnik” offensive, a new state-run international media outlet named after the soviet space program. This follows long time Kremlin-funded RT and other, state-run TV.

Christiane Amanpour on Thursday spoke with opposing views on the subject – Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and RT Host Anissa Naouai.

Click above to watch.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Grayson Perry: ‘If you think I'm a pervert or just a charming eccentric, fine!’

November 20th, 2014
08:56 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Grayson Perry doesn’t much care what you think of him.

“I'm a transvestite, I enjoy dressing up, and I'm an artist as well – and I've found it a kind of useful part of my identity to use it,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Wednesday.

“Do you have to understand something? I mean, that's quite interesting. I do it for myself, and what you think is up to you! If you think I'm a pervert or just a charming eccentric, fine!” he said with a laugh.

The celebrated British artist is taking on a topic close to his heart – identity – as his latest project. He became famous, and won the renowned Turner Prize, for his shocking ceramic vases depicting subjects like death and child abuse.

“I'm always interested in the things that are right in front of us all the time in mundane, everyday life, but we don't think about.”

Identity, he said, is “something that crops up, particularly in political discussions, quite a lot – but I'm never quite sure what people mean by it.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Star power ‘bewitches’ those vulnerable to abuse, says human rights lawyer

November 19th, 2014
04:35 PM ET

By Henry Hullah, CNN

We must monitor people with power in order to protect the vulnerable, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson told Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

An expert on the “culture of silence” surrounding abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, Robertson explained the common theme that ran through the church, the media and beyond.

“The revelations started with the Catholic Church in Ireland,” he told the program.

“Then we discovered it in celebrities here and a number of them have been convicted and now we’re finding other examples.”

“And what comes across to me, having studied it is the utter vulnerability of seven, eight, nine year olds to power."

"[In] a sense, in the Catholic Church, the priest as the representative of God – any command is unflinchingly obeyed. The star, entering the star’s dressing room at the BBC, it’s an enormous power.”

“It does bring home how we must ensure someone guards the guardians because the guardians can’t be trusted.”

The power that “bedazzles” the young and vulnerable was something Robertson stressed mustn't be underestimated and should be monitored because it overwhelms its victims almost instantly.

“It’s so easy, and that’s why there must be checks on dressing rooms, checks on all sort of places where people with power over children can bewitch and bewilder them.”


Palestinian Authority President incited synagogue murders, says Israeli Minister

November 19th, 2014
02:01 PM ET

By Henry Hullah, CNN

The Palestinian Authority President incited the Palestinians who attacked a Jerusalem synagogue, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinetz told Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

In the worst violence seen in Jerusalem for six years, four worshippers and one police officer were killed when two Palestinian cousins attacked a local synagogue during morning prayers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came forward to condemn the attack, as have Mahmoud Abbas – also known as Abu Mazen – and the Palestinian Authority. But Abbas' words have not appeased Benjamin Netanyahu nor his Intelligence Minister.

“Those two Palestinian terrorists were inspired maybe by ISIS who are now using knives to kill people, but motivated and incited by Abu Mazen," Steinetz told the program. "It was Abu Mazen who, two months ago, called all devoted Palestinian Muslims to defend al-Aqsa Mosque by all means against who? Against the Jews who contaminate the mosque.”

“Everybody know that it's the Palestinian President is calling Palestinian Muslims to defend the al-Aqsa mosque by all means, this would lead to riots and bloodshed and terrorist attacks as we saw since he made this declaration in the last few weeks.”


Lithuania appeals for stronger stance against Russia

November 18th, 2014
06:51 PM ET

By Henry Hullah, CNN

NATO and Western sanctions are not doing enough to deter the Russian policies that they were made to target, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“We are reacting, in my view, a bit too slowly and missing targets because we have this list of so-called targeted persons - but more than half of them have nothing to do with the decision making process in Russia.”

“We’re really not acting enough in my view.”

The Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are a lot closer to the issue than other NATO members. They are tiny neighbors to a giant, and increasingly aggressive, Russia.

Even as the interview came to air there was news of Lithuanian fighter jets having to scramble to intercept Russia fighter jets that flew close to Baltic air space.

“Yes, they scramble, they react when it’s necessary,” Linkevicius told the program.

“Often the Russians are not violating any rules,”

“They can fly over the neutral waters, they can fly by the border - but look, I would compare it with the car moving along the highway without lights at two hundred miles per hour.”

“It’s really very dangerous. It’s not just increasing tensions but also a threat to civilization.”

With incidents requiring the scrambling of Lithuanian jets becoming no less frequent, what action can be taken to encourage Putin to abandon these policies?

So far sanctions have punished the Russian economy, fueling the dramatic fall of the Ruble, but they haven’t deterred the Russian policy that they’ve been targeting. What can be done in the Baltics and beyond?
“We have to stay united.”

“It’s really the only way to keep the pressure, and on the other hand we have to help the Ukrainian government because they are facing aggression from the outside. It’s a not a civil war as some are trying to present. It’s from outside. It wouldn't help them to seal the border.”

“It’s very difficult to discuss these issues, to negotiate, when you are denying what is obvious and sometimes some lies are spread and this is dangerous.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia

'Criminals are in charge of the Central African Republic' says Human Rights Watch Director

November 18th, 2014
01:30 PM ET

By Henry Hullah, CNN

“Criminals are in charge” of the Central African Republic, and the country "continues to descend in to absolute chaos,” Human Rights Watch Emergencies Director Peter Bouckaert told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Monday.

One of Africa’s poorest nations, the C.A.R. has been ravaged by a war between Muslims – Séléka militias – and anti-Muslim “Anti-Balaka” militias. Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands of Muslims have fled the country.

France and the United Nations have sent peacekeepers to help rebuild the former French colony, which has seen five coups since independence in 1960, but the challenge they face is huge.

"The peacekeepers face a very difficult task in the Central African Republic,” Bouckaert told the program. “There basically is no governance in most of the country. The state has just disappeared. There are no detention facilities. They have to re-establish law and order in a country as big as France with just twelve thousand troops."

The Human Rights Watch Director gave a dark vision of the African country's current predicament but he was joined in the interview by a living symbol of hope in the future, Father Bernard Kinvi.

A Roman Catholic Priest based in the northwest of the country, Kinvi's Mission and hospital became a refuge for Muslims fleeing violence. He treated the injured and pleaded with their attackers to stop.

Father Bernard joined the program on his first trip outside Africa shortly after being honored by Human Rights Watch for his “unwavering courage and dedication to protecting civilians in the Central African Republic.”

Amanpour asked the priest what happened when these Anti-Balaka militants first came to his village, Bossemptele.

"When we understood that the Anti-Balaka were there, we wanted to try and negotiate to see if they would stop any armed confrontation,” Kinvi told the program. “But they wouldn't listen to us."

"Then there was confrontation. Some Muslims managed to hide; some managed to get away and some got into the hospital. But many went into the bush as well and were not able to flee the conflict. And unfortunately all those who were not able to flee died. They were massacred. They were killed."

"I found children. I found people who had escaped. I found invalids. I found wounded and I brought them to the hospital."

"They wanted to kill a young boy of 13 years of age. They wanted to kill him. And their interpretation was that he would grow. He would grow up into a man and should be killed. So I said to them, OK. Well, first, you'll have to kill me. Kill me first."

Despite daily threats, Father Bernard Kinvi managed to save thousands of besieged Muslims by shielding them in his Roman Catholic Mission.


Sunni cleric: ISIS chief al-Baghdadi ‘is going to hell’

November 17th, 2014
03:30 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A prominent Syrian Sunni cleric on Monday condemned the ISIS killing of the American Peter Kassig and said that ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “is going to hell.”

“We have to speak loud and very clear that Muslims and Islam have nothing to do with this,” Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“ISIS has no nationality. Its nationality is terror, savagery, and hatred.”

He expressed his “deepest condolences” to Kassig’s family, as well as to the families of the “many Syrians” who have been killed. (Kassig converted to Islam in captivity; his parents now refer to him as Abdul-Rahman.)


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

Joining voices against Ebola

November 17th, 2014
02:51 PM ET

Imagine a world where Africa's problems change but the rallying cry for aid remains the same and where pop stars and rock legends join voices to offer a helping hand.

Christiane Amanpour has the story on Band Aid 30.

Filed under:  Africa • Christiane Amanpour • Imagine a World • Latest Episode
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