(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin can be trusted, but cautioned the United States will "just have to see what happens" over efforts to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons.
"You work for the best and prepare for the worst in this business. But I think it would be a terrible mistake not to take advantage of the opportunity," he told CNN's Piers Morgan at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York. "And, you know, look, Mr. Putin is very smart."
Watch more of the interview Wednesday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Live," starting at 9 p.m. ET.
Inside the mind of Vladimir Putin
Clinton said he knows the Russian president well, and they have a "brutally blunt" relationship. He said Putin had never reneged on a personal agreement with him.
"He kept his word in all the deals we made," Clinton said.
Putin looks on as Kerry and Lavrov meet at UN
While Putin became president shortly after Clinton left the White House in 2001, he had served as Russia's prime minister during the latter end of Clinton's second term.
Shortly after Russia announced that it would work with the United States to try and forge a diplomatic solution on disarming Syria of its chemical stockpiles, many congressional lawmakers raised questions over whether Moscow could be trusted, given its strategic alliance with the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Obama focuses foreign policy on Iran and Middle East peace talks
President Barack Obama has even expressed doubt, but argues diplomacy would be preferable to military action, though he's not against using force if an agreement doesn't materialize.
During his speech Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly, Obama challenged the international community to enforce its ban on chemical weapons by agreeing to put pressure on Syria - even militarily - if the regime fails to relinquish those weapons to international control.
He called for a "strong" resolution from the Security Council, of which Russia is a member, to "verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments."
Bashar al-Assad says Syrian rebels may attack chemical weapons inspectors
U.N. inspectors returned to Syria on Wednesday to look into at least a half-dozen claims of chemical weapons use. The United Nations, as well as the United States, confirmed sarin gas was used in an attack on suburb of Damascus on August 21. U.S. officials blame al-Assad's forces and have said more than 1,400 were killed. Syria denies it used chemical arms.
– CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.
Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.
Putin can be trusted because his political butt is on the line as well.
I bet Clinton can't and won't say the same about Obama. Obama has never kept his word.
we can not believe you Bill, your a liar!
This coming from a man who sat on national tv and lied in the faces of all americans
Once again, Bill Clinton seems to be one of the few people out there thinking rationally. Why not take Putin at his word until he demonstrates otherwise? We've already established there is no immediate threat to the U.S. from Syrian chemical weapons. If Putin and Assad are lying, there will be another chemical attack somewhere in the middle east, which will draw significant international condemnation and will diminish the credibility of both Putin and Assad on the world stage. So what does Obama really have to lose? Best case, the history books will show U.S. played a critical role in eliminating the threat of chemical weapons in the middle east by doing some strategic sabre rattling, but never actually resorting to force. Worst case, we tried to find a peaceful resolution but Putin and Assad lied. Then there would be a more justifiable rationale to proceed with military action.
Remember when W got lambasted for basically the same statement? Pot, meet kettle...
But does he pass the George W., "Look into His Soul Test" ?
is Bill Clinton still the President?
I trust Putin more than I do barry obama!!!!
damned if we do, damned if we don't ... let's go with 'we do' and then if it doesn't, blame Putin.
Good enough for me. I like Clinton.
Hmmm, interesting timing for Clinton to say this (right after meeting with Barack at the Clinton Global Initiative). Well this clinches no military action.
What happened was Barack begged Bill to say this so that Barack doesn't look so bad when he eventually has to "trust" Putin and not take any military action. Bill's presidency overlapped with Putin (as President or PM) for like 16 months total. How many "deals" did he really strike with Putin? This is a pretty gross image boosting tactic by Obama that promotes style over the substance of what he really believe(d) (that we should take military action against Syria for using chemical weapons on its own people, including children).
There is nothing wrong with working with the Russians for a mutual non-violent end to this situation. People seem so concerned due to Russia's ties with the Assad regime. Do you think that we don't have questionable alliances as well?
I wouldn't trust Bill Clinton...why would I trust his opinion of Putin?
Today chemical is banned, tomorrow a smart scientist will figure out how to make something even worse. Will be ban that as well? Or is it just a strategic ploy for something even bigger.
Clinton may trust Putin, but I can't trust Vlad as far as I can throw him.
...and exactly why should we trust you, Bill ????
I was real busy and couldn't respond to the article egarding Chelsea Clinton. That was actually my response not an imposter but that does not mean I would ever vote republican.
Thanks for watching my back and I continue to enjoy your intelligent posts.
Notice how republicans embrace a commie, but not the twice elected president of the US?
This coming from a guy that lied under oath in court proceedings, and twice let Osama Bin Laden go for the sake of his own political skin.
Clinton must be looking at Putin through the looking glass.
While our "current" Presidents (Obama and apparently Clinton) fall all over themselves to be enthralled with this evolving Syrian situation, we have apparently backed off any direct demands the "Asaad must go.".
Clinton and Obama's operative rationale is "As long as the situation gives off the appearance of being OK, then it's all good." This is the diplomatic equivalent of how we deal with fiscal issues in this country: Go to the brink, give off the appearance of doing something and kick the can down the road until the next manufactured crisis.
It's amazing how all of these politicians think we're brain dead (and, sometimes, I wonder if we really are).
Thank God we have real leaders running this country, with intelligence.
Can you imagine what would happen if these ignorant bloggers on here ran things? Generally, you can add up 10 of these bloggers IQ's and it would be about equal to President Obama's or Bill Clintons. Even GW Bush was smarter than 5-6 of these bloggers combined.
There are some intelligent Americans, but your average American doesn't go to college, sits and watches tv all day, and logs into blogs to complain about everyone and everything.
Note: You will NEVER hear one good idea from any of these bloggers. See, it's easy to criticize, but if you are ignorant, it is real hard to come up with an intelligent solution. That is the problem facing the Tea Party, which is the Party of No. Never a good idea, just negativity.
This story? Of course you work with Putin and Iran and Syria. An educated 8 year old will tell you that negotiation beats bombs. What we need on here are more intelligent 8 year olds commenting, not these grown idiots.
Maybe Putin can give us answers about Benghazi. It's a cinch that this administration dropped the ball.
Of course Putin can be trusted. Out of Clinton and Putin, only one of those two was convicted of perjury.
It is a sad state of affairs when you can trust a foreign leader over your own.
Obama and Clinton are two peas in a pod " LIERS"