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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  October 15, 2018 3:30am-4:01am BST

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the country's consulate in istanbul. the uk, france and germany have issued a rare joint statement demanding answers and saying they're treating the incident with the utmost seriousness. the eu's chief negotiator michel barnier says some key brexit issues are still unresolved including the backstop to avoid a hard border in ireland. he hosted unscheduled talks with his uk counterpart to try and make progress just days ahead of a crucial meeting of eu leaders. angela merkel‘s conservative allies appear to have suffered massive losses in bavaria's state elections. early results put the csu at a low not seen since the 1950s. their losses come as the green party celebrates a surge in support. now on bbc news, dateline london. hello and a very warm
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welcome to dateline london. i'm jane hill. this week we're asking what the west should do about the disappearance of the saudi journalist jamal khashoggi, and looking forward to next week's european summit — which could produce a brexit deal. with me is iain martin, columnist for the times here in london. the frenchjournalist agnes poirier. the writer on arab affairs abdel bari atwan. and annalisa piras, the italian writer and filmgoer. as we go to air, jamal khashoggi hasn't been seen for 11 days — since he entered saudi arabia's consulate in istanbul. the saudi government says accusations that it ordered
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the killing of the 59—year—old, who writes for the washington post and has been critical of the regime, aren't true. the secretary general of the united nations has demanded the truth and says whoever is involved must be held legally accountable. what should be the international response? abdel bari atwan, you've known khashoggi for 30 years, so it must be a difficult topic for you to talk about. to be honest, as a middle eastern journalist, i am sad and scared. sad because i know the man for the last 35 years. he's very decent. he is actually very objective — sometimes he takes a position which is pro—government, but when he realised the situation in saudi arabia when it comes to the freedom of expression, of human rights, when he realised it was unbearable, he raised his voice to say enough was enough. that's why scared because it
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seems if this kind... i mean, the people who committed this crime, if they get away with it, all of us will be threatened as journalists, especially if we are living in the west. the message is very clear — wherever you are, we can reach you. this is the message to people who would like to criticise these autocratic regimes, to criticise the abuse of human rights. and we will talk more about the situation in saudi arabia, but you say you are scared — was he scared? did he ever talk to you about that? he was living in self—imposed exile. would he have been nervous going into that consulate? he was very nervous, before that. he felt very lonely. his wife was not allowed to go and join him in the united states and to live with him and that is why... his family, his sons and daughter, were under house arrest in saudi arabia.
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they could not leave and join him. he was scared. he realised that the crown prince of saudi arabia would not leave him alone. so maybe this was the reason. he was depressed. he went to turkey hoping that he could find protection there. he has good relations with president erdogan of turkey. he bought a flat hoping he could settle down. he wanted to establish an organisation to monitor human rights abuse in the gulf region, which is at its peak these days. so maybe that is why he was killed. but to be killed in a brutal way, to enter your country's consulate for marriage papers and never to get out alive, or even in plastic bags... we don't know.
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turkey says it has audio recordings that prove what you are saying — the saudi government says that is not the case. they say the fact is he has not been seen for 11 days. we should all discuss what should happen now. what can a response be? first of all, we know that there is a big investment conference taking place in ten days' time in riyadh. it is interesting that it is civil society, in a way, that is applying pressure. it is not governments for the moment. governments need evidence, fine. but it looks as if something very grim happened to jamal khashoggi. media partners and business partners have started pulling out of this conference, which is pretty important for the crown prince. they pulled out pretty quickly. it's turning into a fiasco. every single one of us, britain, france, are not going to stop selling arms to saudi arabia.
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on the other hand, the un was very vocal about what happened in istanbul. and so that's what international organisations are for as well, and i completely agree with bari that saudi arabia should not get away with a crime like this. remember, just a few months ago, this charm offensive of the crown prince in paris and london — this young guy, a reformer, and then the prime minister of lebanon was for weeks detained in saudi arabia, and hundreds of royals and businessmen at the ritz—carlton, who only managed to get released because they transferred billions of cash. this is a ruthless regime. so i think if a crime has been committed, yes, they should not get away with it.
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otherwise it will be like putin sending killers to britain. some people have already made those parallels. annalisa? of course, this is the fundamental question — yes, saudi arabia is the biggest buyer of weapons in the world, compared to its size. yes, it is the biggest oil producer after russia, but does that mean they can do whatever they want? we know that saudi arabia has an abysmal record in supporting extreme versions of islam that is behind the birth as isis. they have been committing horrendous crimes in yemen towards civilians. this is the last straw. it shouldn't be only the media partners, as agnes has just been mentioned, that have pulled out from this huge investment conference, which is key for saudi arabia, because saudi arabia has been trying to diversify its economy from oil to something else. they need investment.
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it's a hugely important conference in riyadh. it's not far off. the media has pulled out, which is very good, but it should be government, high profile people, and the un should take action. and iain, britain's stance? very strong links between britain and saudi arabia. there are very strong links, and this is incredibly difficult and complex for the west, which has effectively, on american advice, has backed mohammed bin salman, and has backed the new leadership and has spent the last year or so crawling to the saudis in the expectation... seeing it as the end of the cold war, a modernisation process. there is now a question mark against that. there are now questions for trump to answer, because it seems clear, and you look at how mohammed bin salman behaved, for example, very disrespectfully towards president obama in the oval office, and he was enabled by trump to forge this great bond with him.
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it would not be surprising if mbs felt enabled or liberated in terms of taking onjournalists by some of the rhetoric coming from trump, describing journalists as enemies of the people and setting up the media as a target. but this is not only going on because of what trump does. of course... saudi arabia is always cracking down on dissent... but taking the decision to do something so transgressive as, if this is what turns out to have happened, killing a journalist on foreign soil and expecting to get away with it, then someone has given mbs the impression that he can do whatever he likes, and that seems to have been the president of the united states. i agree 100% with iain.
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i was shocked to listen to president trump on fox news saying that the crime did not take place on american soil. that he's not an american citizen. and we have 110 billion dollars' worth of arms deals so we should not swallow this pill. we should actually go ahead with business. so it means it is a huge encouragement to other people in the middle east to kill journalists, or kill anybody. it means money is more important than human rights. it means deals are more important than freedom of expression. it is shocking! this is the man, the leader of the free world, and we're not talking about russia, we are talking about the united states here. so these kinds of attitude against journalists,
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to give priority to arms deals, i think it is shocking, to be honest. in europe this year, fourjournalist have been killed. so we are witnessing a kind of escalation of violence against the messengers. and that is a very big issue. i think that there is a problem in saudi arabia. we have also to denounce and to look very carefully at what is happening against journalists. because the moment in which you start getting impunity for killing journalists... and this is happening in europe as well. we have had malta, bulgaria, slovakia, countries that are normally supposed to be civilised countries that respect freedom of expression, we have had journalists killed and no persecution. again it comes back to what is done. to agnes' point, businesses and media companies can pull out of a financial conference but doesn't
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there have to be a lead taken, then, by western governments? possibly, but the interesting aspect of this in terms of us policy is that that lead does not seem to really... isn't really going to come from trump. but congress is taking a great interest in this for the reasons that we describe, because it is an outrage but also because it is an american publication involved. and there is the potential there for us policy in the region to be upended. if american lawmakers essentially force a shift, potentially even at some point in the future it's not impossible to imagine sanctions — that runs directly counter to policy which is pursued byjohn bolton via trump of seeing saudi — a modernising saudi — that has been the narrative of the last 18 months — a modernising saudi, through which the region can be remade.
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saudi as an ally, amazingly, of israel, primarily to target iran and shift american policy from the obama years. that policy approach now has the added complication that it's going to be a live issue in washington. how close the us should be to the saudi regime and how much slack... it's an added complication but i don't think it's going to prove anything. trump being trump, he's going to swallow that. we're not going to, but he will. it's not going to change us policy in the middle east. what i believe, there should be a move from the west to say to mohammed bin salman, the crown prince, enough is enough, you must stop these massacres, these war crimes in yemen. we must actually respect the freedom of expression, and these countries, the west, we are coming to the west
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simply because we believe in freedom of expression, we can be safe here. the message is very clear, we are not safe. personally, i receive death threats from middle eastern governments. but being in western countries, i feel safe and they cannot come. but now, they want to terrorise us. they want to terrorise the opposition. the saudi opposition living in the west. and this is the message. we must actually stand together and say that these kind of crimes are not accepted and should not be happening, and anybody who commits them should be punished. the conference that was mentioned, davos in the desert, british and french have flooded resources into trying to make saudi the next big, open market. that is complicated. if this conference collapses,
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you start to see... i don't seek trump shifting, but europe might be key. a very interesting point. thank you very much on that. we will turn our attentions to european matters. some british cabinet ministers made their considerable concerns known this week about the suggestion that the uk could remain in a customs union beyond 2020. it appears to be one brexit option on the table — to give negotiators more time to work on a trade deal in the run up to the imminent eu summit. ten downing street stamped on the idea pretty quickly, adamant that it won't allow the country to be tied into an indefinite customs union. at the same time, chancellor philip hammond was sounding pretty upbeat at the imf meeting in bali, saying he felt discussions were picking up pace, and that britain could experience an economic boost from brexit — as long as a deal is done. iain, a few days away, that eu summit. what is your reading of where we are right now? the british government has a problem when the eeyore—like, gloom—laden philip hammond,
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that is a problem. i think that, essentially, the deal is in serious jeopardy... the prospects of reaching a deal? the prospects of a deal are now... so philip hammond is not right? i think he is wrong. the complications of the politics here suggest that theresa may is effectively trapped in a maze, really. the british domestic politics, very difficult to see how she can get what the european union needs her to get through in terms of commitments on the irish border and on the customs backstop, which has become so confusing, even to the people in britain and on the continent,
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who are writing about it and conducting negotiations. the terminology is increasingly baffling. but theresa may does not have a majority, she relies on the ulster unionist dup for her majority in parliament. and they seem pretty determined not to accept, not to swallow what she has to offer as a compromise to try to get some sort of deal through. so the politics are incredibly difficult. now, it is not impossible that at some point in the next week to ten days, there is a classic european fudge, that new forms of language are concocted that allow a deal to be patched together. but i think it is increasingly difficult to see that happening, actually. is anyone else more optimistic than iain, at all? i think that he's onto something.
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i think the european union has been very good at kicking the can down the road, and that is probably what is going to happen. the president of the commission, juncker, was very upbeat this week. he said that we will find a deal. so my impression is that there will be some sort of fudge, some kind of invisible border in northern ireland, there will be some magic there. a deal will be found and then there will be this frictionless trade, which is the keyword at the moment. nobody wants a mess, so they will get frictionless trade. a long transition, 21, 24 months, and then maybe we will know something about it. but on the other hand, what is happening on saturday with the people's vote march, with people actually in britain starting to realise that it is an awful mess,
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a dog's dinner, and people are starting to shift opinion towards a second vote... they're not. the polls tell us that they are, actually. the polls tell us that they are. they simply don't. look atjohn curtice on this, leading british experts on this also. this is one of the most astonishing things about life in britain since the referendum, people who voted leave are still broadly in favour of leave. those who voted remain are still broadly in favour of remain. there have been little bits of fluctuation and some pollination of some people switching directly, but there is no evidence that... there have been several polls saying that there have been a shift. i think there are plenty that say otherwise. let's focus on the eu summit, which begins on thursday. i think there will be a deal. a deal or a fudge?
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i think that was the phrase, "classic european fudge." fudge doesn't exist on the continent. far too sweet, in my opinion. so i think there will be a deal. will it be a good deal, perhaps another question. the problem is, the eu is faced always with the chance that something in uk domestic politics is going to derail what they are doing in brussels. that is to say, i mean, last time, arlene foster from the dup said, actually, no. and theresa may had to go back to london to discuss. the basic extension of the transitional period for me is the only way out. because it's included small—time for them to sit down... and it gives more time to britain and the tory and labour parties
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to sort out the mess and perhaps after march, to have new elections or a leadership contest, and so it isjust buying time basically, for britain to find a new voice 01’ an agreement. i'm not sure actually, about this second referendum. it depends also on the question asked. look at the labour conference. labour does not want a second referendum, so i'm not sure it isn't answered. how many referendums will it take? best of three or maybe best of five, just keep on going! there is a positive side for theresa may to chair a meeting of the inner cabinet. definitely she has something in hand. it is not her style to call the cabinet for this reason so maybe
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there is some good news, but the problem is, inside the conservative party, inside the government itself, inside this shaky alliance between the unionists and theresa may and the conservative party, the division here is actually causing a problem. so we don't see the whole conservative party united behind theresa may. certainly not. and if there is a deal or a prospect of a deal, is it going to last? is it going to succeed? what is the reaction of the parliament, for example? the problem is that the week in which this has been happening, this was supposed to be sorted this week, so at that key meeting of the inner cabinet, the prime minister actually did not say very much. she chaired the meeting, she did not say, i have the makings of a deal here, because that isn't the case. what seems to have gone
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wrong in the last week and which is the reason i am now so pessimistic about it, is that the meeting between michel barnier, the eu's chief negotiator, and arlene foster, who you mentioned, the dup leader, went extremely badly. the british have made a long tradition of misunderstanding the european union. misunderstanding is far use and what it is about and that is why the british have messed up eu negotiation. however, the european union seems to be making a fatal misunderstanding about northern ireland and about what it is and the fact that it is part of the united kingdom, and foster and herfellow dup mps are digging their heels in because they are absolutely furious, annoyed with the way that london has handled it, but there is no way they are going to vote for something that they see as dividing up the uk. the european union is still wanting potentially checks between one part of the uk, northern ireland, and the rest of the uk, britain. and that is something which the dup is making very, very clear that it simply won't vote for.
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before this week, the british government broadly expected the dup to go along with whatever it came up with. that we had known for a long time that this is a problem. we had, but everyone has been saying, it will be fudged, and the dup suspect that the fudge is really a stitch up of them, and this is the week in which they have said they are not going to vote for that. but then they could be outnumbered by labour mps voting. they might be. so then in that equation, theresa may does not need the dup any more. but that is a catastrophic miscalculation by her, because in the middle of all of this is the uk budget, the finance bill. which is only a couple of weeks away. which the government hilariously put in there so that it would not get tangled up
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in all of the brexit stuff. but there is then the possibility that tory rebels, combined with the dup, combining with the labour opposition, could vote down or amend elements of the governor's finance bill, meaning effectively britain does not have a financial settlement. that means, despite what number ten is trying to present, that is effectively the end of the government. how can we get out of this mess? it it seems it is going on and on. so i disagree with you, why can't we have a referendum? again, let the british people decide. well, we did have one and i don't really want to revisit that. we are trying to look ahead to this week. annalisa, your thoughts about, if other european countries are looking in, listening to all of this, they will be leading this summit on thursday... there is boredom and irritation because basically in the continental eyes, britain hasn't moved from having your cake and eating it
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and cherry picking and so there is a boredom about that. one thing that is changing and i think it is relevant towards the possible fudge, that is something about the disposition about the freedom of movement. a lot of countries in europe are moving towards a tougher line on immigration, so i think you could be part of maybe a second vote on the deal, the deal could go back to the people saying, look, we have secured maybe stricter controls on freedom of movement... that ship has sailed several years ago. there was a referendum in britain, the government saw... people did not vote for this mess. people voted to leave the european union and britain is going to leave the european union. on that note, that is definitely where we end dateline london for this week. let's see what happens at the summit
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and let's see what we might be discussing around the table this time next week. join us if you can. thanks for watching. bye— bye. hello there. the heaviest rain this week is likely to be on monday. not quite sure where it will be, mind you. towards wales and the west country, everything will move north towards lincolnshire. should allow some sunshine and warmth in the south—east. the sunny skies will be in the far north of england, scotland and northern ireland, but after a chilly start, temperatures of 13 or 1a in the afternoon. as we head into the evening, you can see how that rain continues
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to peter out. left with a fair bit of cloud. everything moving northwards. could be a bit misty and murky as well. still quite mild across england and wales. not quite as cold, perhaps, by tuesday morning across scotland and northern ireland, where there'll be more cloud. mist and fog lifting as the breeze picks up. skies should brighten. this rain coming in from the north—west. shouldn't amount to much. quite windy in north—west scotland. ahead of that, some sunshine in the south—east and it could actually be quite warm. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is duncan golestani. our top stories — pressure mounts on saudi arabia over the disappearance of jamal khashoggi — britain, france and germany demand answers. president trump defends saying he loves north korean leader kim jong—un.
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get along with him really well. i have a good energy with him, i have a good chemistry with him. look at the horrible threats that were made. no more threats... going round in circles. britain's brexit negotiator makes an impromptu trip to brussels but finds no way forward on key issues. angela merkel‘s conservative allies suffer massive losses in bavaria's state elections — her coalition's in question.
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