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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton: No Foreign Policy 'Flip Flops'

ATLANTA, Georgia -- President Bill Clinton has heatedly rejected criticism of his foreign policy, saying: "It's not fair to say we've been unprincipled or vacillating." But he added that world problems were more difficult than he had imagined. At an internationally televised forum on foreign policy, Clinton went on the offensive against criticism that he has been an indecisive world leader, telling a questioner in Sarajevo: "There have been no constant flip-flops, madam." Clinton warned Haiti's military leaders he has not ruled out the use of force to restore democracy. He offered friendship to North Korea it if permits international inspection of suspected nuclear arms sites. And he said he wants to avoid revoking China's most-favored trade status but that the loss of those benefits is "clearly an option on the table." Clinton's appearance was televised live by CNN on Tuesday, with questioners in Israel, Bosnia, South Korea and South Africa. "We've had a lot of successes that perhaps have not been as noticed as they should have been," the president said in defense of his policies. He said the two-year civil war in Bosnia and the defiance of the military in Haiti were two areas that defied easy solutions. "At least on the international front, I would say the problems are more difficult than I imagined them to be," Clinton said. Rejecting any suggestion that he fire his foreign policy team, Clinton said: "I think they're up to the job. It's just that they're plowing new ground" in the aftermath of the Cold War. Clinton decried the ethnic bloodshed that has killed upwards of 200,000 people in Rwanda. He said the United States must provide more humanitarian aid, help deal with the flood of refugees fleeing their suffering homeland and "get the political process going again." To a questioner from Sarajevo, Clinton angrily rejected the notion that he had failed to articulate a consistent policy on Bosnia and had engaged in "constant flip-flops." Recalling his efforts to lift the embargo to rearm Moslem forces and his advocacy of tougher steps, Clinton said: "I think we have shown a good deal of resolve." On China, Clinton pledged to "work hard to work out our differences so we can go forward together." But he said the United States has an obligation to uphold universal standards of human rights. As for Haiti, Clinton said the United States "cannot afford to discount the prospect of a military option" to restore democracy. "We have not decided to use force," Clinton said. "All I've said is that we cannot rule it out any more." Addressing North Koreans directly, Clinton said: "The United States wishes to have friendly and open relations with you." Clinton called on North Korea's leaders to honor their obligations to forswear development of nuclear weapons. "North Korea will be much more isolated" if they fail to do so, he said and "in a much more tenuous position." Clinton opened his appearance by saying the United States cannot shrink from its role of world leadership. And yet, he said, "America cannot solve every problem and cannot become the world's policeman." The president's performance on foreign policy has been under fire from both Democrats and Republicans who complain of wavering and weakness.