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Decoding two sets of surprising Asia peace talks

February 11th, 2014
02:55 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Is there something in the water?

Suddenly peace, or at least peace talks, are breaking out in the most unlikely places. In Asia, entrenched enemies – China and Taiwan, North and South Korea – have agreed to sit down at the table.

In an effort to decode the surprising developments, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke on Tuesday with Kurt Campbell, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who is widely credited with being the key architect of America’s “Pivot to Asia.”

China and Taiwan are holding their first-ever official face-to-face talks since Mao Zedong’s communists won their civil war in 1949 – a “quite significant” turn of events, Campbell said.

“Over the course of the last 30 years, people thought that the most tense situation in Asia was between China and Taiwan, but in recent years the relationship has improved substantially – commercially, economically, and now politically.”


Filed under:  China • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • North Korea • South Korea

American ambassador in South Africa describes his teenage fight against apartheid

December 9th, 2013
04:23 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The anti-apartheid movement was not just a South African struggle.

For the U.S. ambassador in South Africa, Patrick Gaspard, the anti-apartheid struggle he was involved in as a teenager felt like “Sisyphus pushing that rock up the hill,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“It wasn’t clear whether our actions would really make a difference,” he told Amanpour in Johannesburg.

Americans joined activists the world over in pushing their countries to levy sanctions on the apartheid government in South Africa.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan was against those sanctions, even using his veto at one point to block them.

“We you’re a kid, when you’re a teenager, and the president of the United States is saying this is the way we ought to go, it’s hard to be clear that you could be successful,” Gaspard said.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • South Korea

Celebrating Mandela's 95th birthday

July 18th, 2013
03:50 PM ET

Christiane Amanpour celebrates Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday, and speaks with South African film producer Anant Singh.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • South Korea

Can this woman restore the South African dream?

April 10th, 2013
02:44 PM ET

Graca Machel, the wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela has called her country "an angry nation."

She was responding to a spate of infamous rape and murder cases and police beatings that shine a very harsh light on the country's culture of violence, signs that her husband's party, the ruling African National Congress, may have lost its way.

Now, another woman, Dr. Mamphela Ramphele – the activist, medical doctor and businesswoman – believes she can renew the Rainbow Nation.

Ramphele has a fascinating story that's closely tied to South Africa's story. It starts back in the 1970s, when Mandela was still a prisoner on Robben Island. Ramphele joined the fight against apartheid. Along with Steve Biko, whom she called the love of her life, she helped to lead the black consciousness movement.

In 1977, Ramphele was forced into internal exile by the apartheid government. While she was there, her partner, Biko, was beaten to death in prison by police, leaving her to raise a child on her own.

She has stayed out of politics since then. She moved on to a varied and prominent career as a medical doctor, a World Bank official and a corporate leader, becoming one of Africa's richest women.

But now as she considers the violence, the inequality, the illiteracy, and the corruption of today's South Africa, Dr. Ramphele is determined that her country and its youth deserve a new beginning and she plans to try to lead the way.

In the video above you can see Christinae Amanpour’s full interview with Ramphele about her new political party and whether it has any hope of taking on the deeply entrenched African National Congress.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • South Korea

Expert: North Korea could restart Yongbyon nuclear plant in six months to a year

April 2nd, 2013
06:28 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

After weeks of bellicose rhetoric, North Korea announced Tuesday that it will restart a nuclear reactor it had shut more than five years ago.

Siegfried Hecker, one of the world's most prominent nuclear scientists, was one of the last Western observers to visit the Yongbyon nuclear complex. He believes that the North Koreans could restart the plant within six months to a year.

“They would have to rebuild the cooling tower, they would also have to prepare the fresh fuel to put in, but in my opinion it could be done in six months to a year’s time,” Hecker told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview on Tuesday.

Hecker is the former director of United States' Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Amanpour reported from Yongbyon in 2008, which North Korean officials made a big show of shutting down – the cooling tower was blown up in front of television cameras.

She asked Hecker if the North Koreans had deceived the world at that time. FULL POST

Filed under:  Latest Episode • North Korea • South Korea

South Korea’s U.N. Ambassador: ‘War possible, but unlikely’

April 2nd, 2013
04:06 PM ET

South Korea’s Ambassador to the U.N. Kim Sook told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that a war with North Korea is “always possible, but at that moment whether it is practically possible: rather negative.”

Ambassador Kim said war is unlikely because South Korea has experienced this very situation many times in the past.

“The high level of rhetoric and this time around invectives – we have seen many times before,” Kim said. Though, the ambassador admitted that the level of this language and “slandering” – as Kim put it –is different this time around.

“But people in Seoul and by and large the South Korean people are not in panic, they don’t expect a war could happen anytime soon,” Kim said.

South Korea just elected a new President, Park Geun-hye, who is also the country’s first female president. Ambassador Kim dismissed the fact that she has been characterized as a largely untested leader, saying that new presidents have been tested before with these types of situations upon taking office in South Korea.

North Korea has made personal attacks against President Park, referencing her gender.

“The female president does not necessarily mean she is weak. She is politically very solid,” Kim said. Adding, “We leave nothing to chance.”

Ambassador Kim also emphasized that talking with their neighbors is still on the table.

“Dialogue is by and large the first and foremost way to engage North Korea,” he said.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • North Korea • South Korea