(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.
I do trust this guy more than any congress, senate or any politicans in DC. Looks at this country these crooks are continue to ruin America.
Read my lips no more taxes ... What would you do ... Star another losing war ... Send kids to fight for oil. I have no choice but believe in putin because what does he gain for his action. Our politicians are already sold us long ago in 12 years of Bush.
bill can't even say that about himself
Sorry, Bill, but Putin is not the issue. Al-Assad is.
Just keep a few things in mind when reading Mr. Clinton's opinions. First, Mr. Clinton's policies lead to a nuclear North Korea. Muslim terrorism grew unabated during his 8 years in office manifesting in 9-11 attacks. All his fault? Of course not, but let's not be fooled into thinking that his foreign policy knowledge is something worth tapping in today's dangerous world.
ObamaBots: forget diplomacy! Me must hold the Red Line tha Obama drew and support the Islamic terrorists! CNN, MSNBC, unleash the propaganda and bombard the populace with the "truth"! Obama's red line must hold at all costs.
Wait... The red line was drawn by the world?
Wait... It wasn't Putin's idea to negotiate with Russia and Syria, it was Obama's great plan after all.
Wait, Obamacare is really going to worse for the country than expected and Obama will get hit hard in the polls? Hilary is our savior!!! The King is dead. Long live the Queen!!!
Some things never change. The old men always get rolled over by the young Turks. Unfortunately for US, the old men is us this go round. Invest in spam. Meat spam. We are being led to slaughter by 60's hippy burnouts.
Hilarious that we are even questioning if Putin can be trusted. Our politicians lie, cheat, and steal to get elected here in the good ol US of A...Do you REALLY think they are boy scouts in their international dealings?
Great, Putin has the endorsement of the court certified lair Bill Clinton. Clinton's policy's caused the housing bubble he was a completer failure more than Obozo
I miss the days when our politicians spoke softly and carried big sticks. Now a days they are just dogs with all bark and no bite.
Suddenly Clinton became aware of Russians and Coldwar. Why don't he think of Americans when they were butchered by Marie Jan Karbaleva in statedepartment visa waiting list?
Ex-KGB and we should trust him ? Seriously ??
It's good to hear that this former KGB fellow is trustworthy. Definitely bad is good and wrong is right in today's world.
Bubba is no more capable of outwitting the KGB thug than 0-bama is of getting the upper hand with Assad or the Persians. Westerners, especially Americans stand no choice going up against Arabs, Persians, or former Soviet apparatchiks - they just can't operate at the same level of deception, treachery and back-stabbing.
On a side point, note how Dubya is keeping totally quiet while watching the spectacle of the worst POTUS in our nation's history fumbles his Foreign Policy and destroys the economy. While Bubba keeps the verbal diarrhea flowing...
Putin kept his word... to Assad.
Clinton say Putin has never reneged on a personal agreement with him. Which is more than he can say about Obama.
"work for the best and prepare for the worst" I like this attitude
There is something to be said for the T word = TRUST. It overcomes emotions and differences
It's called honor something our politicians forgot about a long time ago.
Putin is more reliable than Obama.
Bill could sell you a Ford Pinto and make you think you bought a Porsche
The good think is: Putin does not have to lie. The best way to avoid lying is not to put yourself into position where you have to! And secondly: Putin does not need America's trust! Russia has no trade with US, has no relations worth mentioning, has no interests that it may share with US – nothing! So you may talk about your own exceptionalism, may imagine yourselves the centre of the universe..., but there is essentially nothing that Putin wants you to do or wants from you: his proposal was a genuine act of good will, an attempt to help Syrian people to avoid even bigger disaster that would leave that country crippled probably forever!
If you want to keep your self-destructing course: at the end of the day there is nobody who is going to stop you!
putin is schooling the US of A. what a reversal.
Slick Willie shouldnt be too concerned, Hilary will be our next President. Yes, we really are THAT stupid.
Best president of my life time.
I love how he answer a question with not an admission but fast. "Can we trust Putin's word?" Clinton doesn't say yes. He states that Putin never reigned on an agreement. But he didn't miss a beat. Most of us would stumble there.
Dude is smart. Yeah he couldn't keep it in his pants, but I would bet my livelihood that 99% of all you readers would cave if you had his power and money and women just through themselves at you.