Interview Highlights

– On Russian President Vladimir Putin: “He’s taking advantage of the relative – weakness, let’s call it, of entrenchment demonstrated by President Obama. He wants to show that to solve the Middle East problem, you have to work with Russia, that the United States is a fading power, Russia is a rising power.”

–  “We need to oppose Russia in Syria by supporting groups that are sympathetic to the West, by being more active against ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria], by doing more humanitarian-wise ourselves, but at the same time, given that Russia has asserted itself, is a player, we cannot exclude them now from a potential settlement of the Syrian conflict.”

–  On Afghanistan, I think the president’s decision to defer his earlier commitment to withdraw all of the U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, to keep the forces there and let the next president decide whether to go for total withdrawal or not is a prudent adjustment given the situation in that region…I think Afghanistan policy adjustment was prudent, although my judgment would be that we need to keep the force at a slightly larger level than what the president has decided, he wants to keep it under 6,000. The preferred military option would have been to keep it at the current level of under 10,000, but I think fundamentally he has done the right thing.”

About Zalmay Khalilzad

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was the United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush in 2007.  He has been involved with U.S. policy makers at the White House, State Department and Pentagon since the mid-1980s, and was the highest-ranking Muslim American in the Administration of U.S. President George W. Bush.  Khalilzad’s previous assignments in the Administration include U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.  President Bush in 2002 appointed Khalilzad to the position of Ambassador at Large for Free Iraqis with the task of coordinating “preparations for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.  Ambassador Khalilzad is the founder and President of Gryphon Partners is a global advisory firm focused on frontier markets.

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