a very warm welcome to bbc news — broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: tensions are mounting about possible american military action in syria. jets and warships are moved into place, but president trump is adopting a less bullish tone. we're looking very, very seriously, very closely, at that whole situation. and we'll see what happens, folks, we'll see what happens. moscow is warning any military action could risk war between russia and the us. mike pompeo faces a grilling by senators at his confirmation hearing. president trump's choice to be secretary of state denies he's a war hawk. is the us headed for an agricultural boom or bust? as president trump works to sow confidence about his trade policies, farmers are uncertain. hello.
a marked shift in tone from president trump over his administration's approach to possible military action in syria. he says a decision on a response to the alleged chemical attack will be made "fairly soon". but the white house has also said he'll continue to assess intelligence and engage with allies, and that no final decision has been made. the french president though, says france has proof the syrian government was behind the gas attack near damascus. moscow — which provides military backing to syria — has warned any western air strikes could risk starting a war between russia and the us. weapons locked and loaded, sailors ready for action, this us carrier battle group left its home port in norfolk, virginia — destination the eastern mediterranean, still 5,000 miles away, and the senior officer awaiting orders to act from the president. i'm so pleased and proud of the harry s truman strike group team, 6,500 of the finest
americans you could ever sail with or serve with. we're trained, we're ready. any mission, any time, anywhere, we're ready to go. and though this powerful flotilla might be full steam ahead, you get the sense in washington of rowing back. from the commander in chief today, the talk was a lot less bellicose. no more a big price to pay, no more decisions in 24—48 hours, no more nice, new, and smart missiles raining down. instead, this. we're looking very, very seriously, very closely, at that whole situation. and we'll see what happens, folks, we'll see what happens. it's too bad that the world puts us in a position like that. and from the defence secretary, an insistence that no decisions to strike had been taken, all options were on the table, and what sounded like uncertainty over who was responsible for the attack. i believe there was a chemical attack, and we're looking for the actual evidence.
the 0pcw, this is the organisation for the chemical weapons convention, we're trying to get those inspectors in, probably within the week. but the allies are not speaking with one voice. listen to how much more definitive the french president is. translation: we have proof that last week, now nearly ten days ago, that chemical weapons were used, at least chlorine, and that they were used by bashar al—assad's regime. us action a year ago amounted to little more than cratering a runway. it's still likely that this time, multinational action will be more extensive and will come sooner rather than later. but with chemical weapons inspectors due to arrive in douma at the weekend, the window for a quick response would appear to be closing fast. the russians, though, still insist there is no justification for any action. translation: washington continues to make militaristic statements that risk causing a dangerous escalation. there are accusations not
only against damascus, but also against the russian federation. donald trump tweeted this morning that a military strike may come soon, or maybe not so soon. now, if you're being generous, you could say this is the fog of war — keep the enemy guessing. or it may be that there is still some confusion and indecision over what to do next. in a moment, we'll get the view from the united nations, but first to steve rosenberg in moscow, and what the kremlin is saying. well, if donald trump's came via twitter is well, if donald trump's came via twitter is to well, if donald trump's came via twitter is to sow well, if donald trump's came via twitter is to sow chaos well, if donald trump's came via twitter is to sow chaos and confusion about his intentions, that is working in moscow because the russians are completely confused. i was watching a live clinical talkshow earlier on russian state television when the news came in that president trump had tweeted
that president trump had tweeted that an attack on syria could happen very soon or not that an attack on syria could happen very soon or not soon and at bemused presenter looked into the camera and said that one russian word, which means incredible. also, an organisation that had been set up by the us and russian military is to prevent an accidental clash between russia and america in syria, that was still functioning and still being used. —— communications line. that suggests that conversations are taking place behind the scenes to prevent the us military strike from sparking an accidental conflict between russia and the united states. it is the words of the russian ambassador that are reverberating tonight and his refusal to rule out the possibility that airstrikes could spark a war between russia and america, and it is those kind of comments and donald trump's tweets that have heightened
concern here about the risk of a major power military confrontation between washington and moscow, and for that reason, the un secretary general antonio guterres has taken the rather unusual step of bringing up the rather unusual step of bringing up the ambassadors of america, russia, france and britain and china, and stressing to them the importance of not letting the situation spiral out of control. the swedish had been trying to broker an 11th hour compromise, but the proposals are far too weak for the americans, the british and the french. although the americans called another security council meeting tomorrow, there is a strong sense that diplomacy has been exhausted. we'll get the latest from washington and our correspondent chris buckler a little later. let's quickly round up some of the other stories making the news. mike pompeo, president trump's nominee to be america's new top diplomat, the us secretary of
state, has been facing questions from members of congress
in a senate confirmation hearing. he's currently director of the cia. he did appear to confirm reports that in february, around 200 russians were killed in syria in clashes with american—led forces. there's still more work to be done on caatsa. there's more work to be done on other sanctions and provisions as well. i do concede that. vladimir putin has yet to receive the message officially and we need to continue to work on that. but it's not just sanctions and the largest expulsions, 60 people from the administration, this administration announced a nuclear posture review that has put russia on notice and we are going to recapitalise our deterrence force in syria. and a handful of weeks ago the russians met their match. a couple of hundred russians were killed. campaigners are calling on the united arab emirates to explain what's happened to a princess who posted a video
online saying her father, the ruler of dubai, had
put her in fear of her life. the group detained in dubai says sheikha latifa al—maktoum was fleeing on a yacht last month when it was boarded in international waters by the indian coast guard, and that she was taken back to dubai. the princess royal has visited her father, the duke of edinburgh, in hospital in central london. the duke, who is 96, has been recovering from a hip operation. princess anne is believed to be the first member of the royal family to visit him. the international chemical weapons watchdog, the 0pcw, has confirmed the uk's assessment of the nerve agent used to poison a former russian spy and his daughter in the english city of salisbury. the british government says the russian state must have been behind last month's attack. moscow denies any involvement. 0ur security correspondent frank gardner reports. investigating every possible site of last month's nerve agent poisoning in salisbury has been exhaustive. now, britain's findings have been backed up the chemical
weapons watchdog, the 0pcw. today it published its report
confirming the findings of the uk relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in salisbury. britain's chemical defence laboratories at porton down quickly identified that toxic chemical as a novichok. today's report doesn't mention that word. but a second, classified, 0pcw report has been given to governments, identifying the name and structure of the nerve agent, which it said was of high purity. by itself, this is not going to be determinative. but, if you look at the contextual facts of what we know about novichoks, they were invented by russia largely to avoid verification under the chemical weapons convention. today, russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman dismissed the report as being part of an operation to discredit russia. yulia skripal, seen here before she was poisoned on march four, is now in hiding somewhere
in britain with police protection. russia has suggested she's being held against her will. her father is still seriously ill in hospital. tonight, britain has called for a un security council debate on the 0pcw report. whitehall officials say russia has some hard questions to answer. frank gardner, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news. much more to come on bbc news, including this. the popstar versus the press. cliff richard sues the bbc over an alleged invasion of privacy. pol pot, one of the century's greatest mass murderers, is reported to have died of natural causes. he and the khmer rouge movement he led were responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million cambodians. there have been violent protests in indonesia, where playboy has gone
on sale for the first time. traditionalist muslim leaders have expressed disgust. the magazine's offices have been attacked, and its editorial staff have gone into hiding. it was clear that paula's only contest was with the clock, and as for a sporting legacy, paula radcliffe's competitors will be chasing her new world—best time for years to come. quite quietly, but quicker and quicker, she seemed just to slide away under the surface and disappear. very good to have you with us on bbc news. the latest headlines:
president trump has spoken to british and french leaders about possible military action in response to syria's alleged use of chemical weapons. the man who wants to be america's top diplomat, the us secretary of state, has told they senate hearing he does not support military action in syria. british ministers have said it was "highly likely" the syrian government was responsible for last weekend's chemical attack. but what action can the international community take? here's our middle east editor, jeremy bowen. in the streets of douma, supporters of president assad paraded. the town's been a no—go area for them for more than six years. thousands who used to live there have been bussed out. these were arriving in idlib, a province held by rebel groups. they didn't bring much more than they can carry, and account of what they'd experienced. for many, this was their parting memory of douma before they left. it's been condemned by the west as a chemical attack carried out
by the assad regime. its ally, russia, says this wasn't caused by chemical weapons. abu, a medical technician who says he treated the wounded, arrived in idlib with some bad memories. translation: fatalities came in, they had suffocated. there were entire families — children, women and babies. it was very difficult. we hope the regime takes a hit. we don't care who strikes, we don't feel sorry for it. this man is a criminal. he's a war criminal. he means president assad, looking relaxed with an iranian visitor. he's always denied using chemical weapons. douma's former residents don't believe him. this doctor was sheltering in a basement during the attack, and he heard about it when he emerged. regime forces had entered douma. translation: the doctors had been warned against saying anything about casualties,
because if they talked, the patient, his family and douma would be put in harm's way. so no one dared speaking out, because they were afraid. people who were in douma saw how ferocious the bombing was. no—one dared say anything. the timing of a military response isn't clear. its potential consequences are. if the west attacks syria, its neighbours will feel the heat. the us, britain and france, and saudi arabia's offered tojoin in, face a difficult military challenge. they want to punish the syrian regime, but not go to war with syria's allies, russia and iran. the western powers want to deter the use of chemical weapons, but how do they do it without killing and maiming the syrian civilians they say they're protecting? russian soldiers are in douma alongside their syrian allies.
they have been winning. changing that would take a bigger war than the west is contemplating. chris buckler is monitoring developments in washington for us. what sense do you have? is anybody backing offjoint military action or is this just about keeping the enemy guessing? i think the flowery talk of donald trump's twitter account is gone and replaced with much more than diplomatic discussion taking place between the us, the uk and france. at the same time, however, although those conversations are about the justification for intervention and what this strategy should be, there is still a looming threat of some kind of military action. when i sayjustification, pa rt action. when i sayjustification, part of the issue here is that syria
and russia continue to deny that this was a chemical attack, they continue to say was fabricated, despite the pictures allegedly coming out of douma. as a result, there is an attempt to put forward a case for chemical attacks having happened. if you look at the conversations that happen tonight between president trump and theresa may, it is clear that they a chemical attack and they say it was pa rt chemical attack and they say it was part of a pattern of behaviour by the forces that must be addressed. they are not walking back on that idea that there should be military for the big certainly, having evidence is important and us officials have been breathing some us tv networks today, saying that as far as they are concerned they have looked at some evidence that has emerged from douma, they have looked at some of the you're in samples and they believe chlorine and a nerve agent was used in the attack. they say that they are confident it was
used in the attack but they cannot be 100% certain. at this stage there are two things going on. firstly, they are trying to work out exactly what the purpose and extend of this military action will be and secondly, laying down the justification as a message back to russia as it continues to threaten retaliation. the us defence secretary said they have been trying to get inspectors from the international organisations or rogic and of chemical weapons in within a week. there is an issue of getting them in and out as fast as possible but also, what tracer than a chemical attack may still be there because the area is now under the control of the syrian government again. again, there will be questions and questions will be raised by syria and rough at rush hour, whatever the results of those investigations that take place. certainly, the organisation of the provision chemical weapons is looking to get their potentially as early as this weekend to try and
find some evidence. i think we are stage is that people have seen these images that have come out of douma, that are alleged to have taken place after this chemical attack and there isa after this chemical attack and there is a feeling from the west that there must some kind of response to that. i do feel that although we are still in a position where conversations are taking place, where the us uk and france have to work out what they are going to do specifically, they also want to make clear that if this has been a chemical attack it is unacceptable and could not be allowed to happen again. if it happens. there is clearly a n again. if it happens. there is clearly an issue about the length and breadth of any assault. what we seem and breadth of any assault. what we seem to being told is that the tragedy —— strategy is not to affect the course of the syrian civil war but to restore the international red line against the use of chemical weapons. it is exactly that point. it is about saying that they are not going to accept those kind of images becoming a part of what president assad's forces are
involved with. the attack last year was met with a response by the us but some would argue that that did not deter president assad. something much more constructive and much more considered must be managed here. there must be some kind of strategy developed that ultimately ensures that president assad feels he cannot act in such a way by attacking his own civilians. 0f act in such a way by attacking his own civilians. of course, all of thatis own civilians. of course, all of that is extraordinarily difficult. at the same time you have russia looming over all of this potential convert licked in syria it does give you a sense that this is an international subject and one that can international subject and one that ca n affect international subject and one that can affect international relationship. thank you for that. we just want to bring you... this from
the op cw just want to bring you... this from the 0p cw confirming that the team is on its way to syria and will start its work on saturday. that is this coming saturday. get is just lawyers for the singer sir cliff richard told the high court today that bbc coverage of a police raid on his home was a "very serious invasion" of his privacy. sir cliff is suing the bbc, claiming breach of privacy and data protection, after officers went into his berkshire home in 2014 following an allegation of an historic sexual assault. sir cliff denied any wrongdoing. he was not arrested and was not charged with any offence. the bbc argues its coverage was in the public interest. our special correspondent lucy manning reports. sir cliff richard is more used to walking out on stage than into a court room. the singer has sold millions of records, achieved fame and fortune, but claims the bbc seriously invaded his privacy and he wants very substantial damages. south yorkshire police have confirmed they are searching
a property in berkshire. this news report from 2014 was highly intrusive, said sir cliff richard's barrister. as the bbc filmed from a helicopter, the south yorkshire police searched his flat. they were investigating an allegation of historical sexual abuse, which the singer has always denied. he was never arrested or charged. he looked tearful in court as the reports were played, at times closing his eyes. the bbc claims it was in the public interest to report what was accurate information about a serious police investigation. sir cliff richard's barrister said this story was a toxic combination of unchecked ambition by their local reporter and an obsessive desire to scoop rivals to make headlines rather than report the news, and a regrettable failure by senior managers to even adhere to proper standards. he said, "we are talking about intrusive footage served up to the british public as a sensational story."
bbc managers fran unsworth and jonathan munro will give evidence. they argue this case raises issues about press freedom and what the public can be told about police investigations. and they claim bbc reporter dan johnson was given the information about the search by south yorkshire police. the bbc‘s barrister, gavin miller, asked if sir cliff richard could have expected privacy. "we say the answer is very clearly no," he said. "he may have hoped for that, he may have wanted that but that would not have been a reasonable expectation for somebody in his position to have in those circumstances. " in court it was revealed south yorkshire police has already agreed to pay the singer £a00,000 and his legal costs after he sued them. how was the first day? very good. very good, said sir cliff richard, about his first day in court. he is expected to give evidence tomorrow. pulling out ﬁfthg than—z." — —— — 7 ~
was one of president trump's first acts in office. he's been very publicly very rude about the trade deal. but there are signs of a spectacular reversal. he's now told republicans in congress he's instructed officials to look into rejoining the deal. the bbc‘sjoe miller has travelled to tennessee — where uncertainty over a looming trade war with china is having an impact. will hutchinson's family have been farming near nashville since 1932. thanks to a favourable climate, their crop has remained steady. what has changed is their customers. we probably export 80% to 90% of total production, and probably half of that even goes to china. so those trade relations are pretty vital. the hutchinsons don't usually pay much attention to politics, but after china announced it would slap a 25% levy on soy bean imports, grain growers have been glued to the news,
hoping for a thaw in relations between washington and beijing. we really study the market close. we don't need any more pressure on the commodity prices that we are already working with. margins are as tight now as they have been in an extremely long time, and farmers all across the country are looking for some relief. thanks to international trade, tennessee's economy has been booming. unemployment here is falling faster than in the rest of the us, and investment is flooding in, but the state, which voted enthusiastically for donald trump, is now in danger of being caught in the cross hairs of his trade war. road tech is a local success story, the company's specialist road laying machines assembled entirely in the city of chattanooga are sought after around the world. at donald trump's steel tariffs already throwing a spanner in the works, by restricting the firm's supply chain.
pretty much everything on the machine, whether it is the engine, track assemblies, those are all made out of steel. a reminder of our top story.... president trump has been speaking to the leaders of britain and france about possible military action in response to the suspected use of chemical weapons by the syrian government. he says a decision will be made "fairly soon", but the white house says no final decision has been made. we are hearing that chemical weapons inspectors are on their way to syria are and are expected to be working there in douma by saturday though it is understood that that area is now under the control of the syrian government again. and you can get in touch with me and most of the team on twitter — i'm @bbc mike embley. well, thursday was a really disappointing day across so many parts of the country. five degrees, for example,
in sheffield, really cloudy skies and we saw scenes like this, a picture from leicester, but beautiful weather too yesterday. lovely highland picture here of some flowers. let's have a look at the forecast for the early hours of friday then, still some rain and drizzle around low, grey cloud shrouding the hilltops of the pennines, really unpleasant conditions out there through the course of the night. so clear in the far north of scotland and the temperatures wherever you are in the far north or south, not really that different, seven in plymouth, around six degrees expected in edinburgh. the forecast for friday itself, and we're expecting some of that grey, damp weather to eventually clear away, and for most of us it's a case of cloudy skies through much of the morning and much of the afternoon as well, but in the south it looks as though some of those clouds will be breaking up a little bit so i think there will be some sunshine on the way i think later in the day for london, cardiff, possibly for birmingham
and norwich as well. 1a tomorrow in london, still chilly in the north, only seven in aberdeen and nine in the lowlands of scotland. that was friday, how about the weekend ? it looks as though things are going to be warming up, quite a bit of bright weather around but we are also expecting heavy showers to develop in one or two areas, so not a completely dry weekend. let's look at saturday's weather forecast, starts really bright across most of the uk and the chances are there will be one or two showers breaking out across southern areas, so be prepared for the odd downpour. but for most of us across the country it's going to be a dry, bright day with temperatures up to 17 in the south. then saturday night into sunday, this low pressure swings in off the atlantic and increases the winds across western areas of the uk, really gusty conditions, and it's also going to bring some cloud and rain for south—western parts of england, for wales, northern ireland and western scotland. the east, think, on sunday, should just about stay dry and in fact here those temperatures will start to rise and you'll particularly notice those temperatures rising on the north sea coast, look at that,
1a expected in newcastle. into early next week, into midweek, we'll start to see warm air coming out of the south, turning hot across france and potentially quite hot in the south of the uk and here's an outlook. say, for example, in london, i suspect some time next week temperatures could peak at around 2a, cardiff will be around 20 or so and even further north those temperatures will rise. this is bbc news. the headlines: president trump has been speaking to the leaders of britain and france to discuss possible military action in response it was vital chemical attacks did not go unchallenged. inspectors are now on their way to douma. they expect to start work on saturday. the international chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed the uk's assessment of the nerve agent used to poison a former russian spy and his daughter in the english city of salisbury. the british government says the russian state must have been
behind last month's attack. moscow denies any involvement. president donald trump's nominee for secretary of state has denied during a confirmation hearing that he is a war hawk. cia director mike pompeo told the senate that as america's top diplomat, he would always prioritise diplomacy. mr pompeo is seen by many in washington as a trump loyalist.