For Rice, Job Begins With Plans to Visit Europe and Israel (NY TIMES) By STEVEN R. WEISMAN WASHINGTON 01/28/05)
NEW YORK TIMES
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 - Condoleezza Rice, greeted by warm applause as
she arrived for her first full day as secretary of state, declared
Thursday that diplomacy would be the main tool in spreading democracy
in the world, and she announced plans to travel to Israel and to
eight nations in Europe beginning next week.
"The president has set forth a really bold agenda for American
foreign policy," Ms. Rice said, standing on a staircase in the lobby
of the department. "And the State Department has got to be in the
lead in this period in which diplomacy will be so important to
solidifying the gains of the last few years and to pressing forward
an agenda for a freer and more prosperous world."
Richard A. Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said Ms. Rice´s
main purpose on her trip would be to pave the way for President
Bush´s own visit to Europe, the first one planned for his new term,
from Feb. 22 to 25. The main focus of Ms. Rice´s attention, Mr.
Boucher said, would be the Arab-Israeli situation, Iraq and support
for democracy in the Middle East.
In Israel, he said, Ms. Rice would meet with Palestinian leaders in
the West Bank and would probably also meet with Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and his team.
Administration officials say that there has been considerable
progress in recent days in discussions between Mr. Sharon´s
government and Mahmoud Abbas, the newly elected Palestinian
president, and that Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice were determined to take
advantage of the momentum.
"The opportunity exists to move forward, but success remains an
uncertain proposition," said David M. Satterfield, deputy assistant
secretary of state for near eastern affairs, speaking at the
government-financed United States Institute of Peace. He called on
both Israel and the Palestinians to take steps to ensure that
progress is made.
Mr. Boucher said Ms. Rice´s trip to Europe was part of a renewed Bush
administration effort to find common ground on a range of policies
and to move beyond the disputes that have surrounded the Iraq war
over the last two years. Ms. Rice will visit Britain, France,
Germany, Poland, Turkey, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg.
But European and American officials said in interviews on Thursday
that despite conciliatory public pronouncements on both sides of the
Atlantic, and a determination to deepen cooperation on a number of
subjects, there were still deep differences on subjects like Iran and
The officials said that after a period of cooperation on Iran, where
Europeans have taken the lead in trying to get Tehran to give up its
suspected nuclear weapons program, a series of American statements in
the news had rattled European public opinion.
There was considerable news coverage, for instance, of a comment by
Vice President Dick Cheney that if Iran developed nuclear weapons,
Israel might strike pre-emptively. In Europe, the comment was seen as
provocative and also a warning to the Europeans to redouble their
efforts to negotiate with Tehran.
President Bush´s Inaugural Address proclaimed his determination to
push for freedom throughout the world - though not "primarily" by
force of arms - and did not particularly reassure Europeans that the
United States had ruled out the further use of force, particularly on
the Iranian situation.
Europe has been pressing for more American involvement in the
offering of economic incentives and political recognition to Tehran.
In return, Iran would be expected to agree to implement a pledge to
stop its program of enriching uranium and taking other steps that the
West suspects are aimed at making arms.
"The American attitude toward Europe is, ´We wish you well with your
effort, but we can´t support it in an active way, because we don´t
want to legitimize this regime,´ " said a senior European
diplomat. "It´s, ´Hey you guys, you´re on your own.´ But sooner or
later, that attitude is going to have to change."
Another senior European diplomat who visited recently with Ms. Rice
and other top administration officials said there was also a worry in
Europe that the United States would not actively urge Israel to meet
the latest moves by Palestinian leaders with steps of its own to ease
Also on Ms. Rice´s agenda in Europe, administration officials said,
was the discussion of democratic reforms in what is called
the "broader" Middle East, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The next meeting on such reforms is to be held in Egypt in March,
with Afghanistan and Pakistan excluded at Egypt´s request. An Arab
diplomat said Egypt regarded these countries as non-Arab countries
and as "failed states" and did not want them included in discussions
of reforms in the Arab world.
"Condi Rice has a lot of capital, to use a Bush term," said one of
the European diplomats. "Our patience will be short. If we hear that
it´s business as usual, then I would expect frustration levels to go
back to high rather quickly. But at the moment, the mood is one of
maybe artificial optimism, but optimism." (Copyright 2005 The New
York Times Company 01/28/05)
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