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Cheney Defends Bush Appointments

"I can't think of anybody more qualified than Paul Wolfowitz to run the World Bank," Cheney said.

During the interview, Cheney continued to take a hard line with Syria and Iran but did not express serious concerns about China's policies. He said he had not been briefed on Rice's trip to Asia this week, during which China's role in pressing North Korea to return to negotiations over its nuclear program was left unsettled.

Vice President Cheney said making U.N. critic John R. Bolton ambassador to the world body will help end corruption and will force needed changes at the United Nations. (Mike Simons -- Getty Images)

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Citing diplomatic sensitivity, Cheney said he did not want to discuss China's more bellicose tone toward Taiwan. Some senior White House officials expressed concern over the growing instability in rural China, where poverty is ubiquitous and is leading to demonstrations, as well as China's dealings with North Korea and Taiwan.

"Generally, the relationship is in pretty good shape," Cheney said. "That does not mean we agree on everything."

As international pressure intensifies on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon before the spring elections, Cheney said: "It's not clear yet they will do what they need to do." If not, he said the United Nations will be "obliged" to consider other actions, though he would not discuss if or how forcefully the United States would push for punitive sanctions. "Syria is pretty isolated at this point," he said.

Cheney, who is described by administration officials as a leading proponent of a hard-line policy toward Tehran, said he is uncertain whether Iran has nuclear weapons. "We have made the judgment that they are seeking to acquire" such weapons, the vice president said.

He did not set a timetable for Iran to reach an international agreement on its nuclear program, and said the United States will continue to work through European allies for now. "It is important to make clear to the Iranians that they need . . . to give up any aspirations they might have had to acquire nuclear weapons."

Iran denies it is using that program to develop nuclear weapons and says it needs nuclear energy.

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