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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wolfowitz Says Diplomacy Is Key

MTEx-U.S. defense official Wolfowitz speaking during an interview Wednesday.
The future of world security and Russia-U.S. relations hinges upon multilateralism and intergovernmental cooperation, former U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said in an interview Wednesday.

The comments marked a considerable departure from the approach of the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush, in which Wolfowitz was seen as a key architect of Washington's unilateral approach to world affairs. Wolfowitz served as deputy defense secretary from 2001 to 2005, when he became president of the World Bank.

"[President Barack] Obama, it seems, will put greater emphasis on diplomacy and solve problems multilaterally," Wolfowitz said on the sidelines of a Troika Dialog conference.

"Now, the world has high expectations for Obama, but the world should understand that he has expectations from them as well -- to cooperate," he said.

Wolfowitz noted, however, that it would be "unfair" to say Bush did not try to cooperate with other countries when pursuing international policy, citing as an example Bush's leadership role in the numerous six-party talks on curbing North Korea's nuclear program.

"He pursued a multilateral approach in Iran, North Korea and Darfur, but he didn't always have the support he needed from the EU and Russia. Will Obama's approach get better results? That depends on the other countries, specifically on Japan, China, Russia and the EU," Wolfowitz said separately during a panel discussion on global security.

Wolfowitz said he "wouldn't be surprised to see some changes" in the U.S. position on missile defense.

Sergei Karaganov, chairman of Russia's Foreign Defense Policy Council, said in an interview after the panel that he expected the Obama administration to, at the very least, "put off" Bush's plans to install interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic.

"Nobody in the new administration has an interest in such an ineffective program," Karaganov said.

Last summer, the United States signed agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic to place components of a missile defense shield on their soil. Despite U.S. assurances that the system was not targeted at Russia but at countries like Iran, Moscow has threatened to deploy missiles near Poland if the plan goes ahead.

But faced with the task of preventing a global economic catastrophe, the Obama administration probably doesn't have missile defense "too high on the list" of priorities, Wolfowitz said.

He insisted, however, that "down the road" Russia was just as likely as the United States to need missile defense against rogue threats and that both countries are bound by a "strong common interest in security."

Karaganov agreed that Moscow and Washington share an interest in containing Iran's nuclear program. "We are both concerned, but I guess we are just a little less concerned," he said.