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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rice in Paris to Rebuild Bridges

PARIS -- Trying to mend fences with Europe, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday "it is time to turn away from the disagreements of the past" that stem from the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to excerpts of a speech to be delivered later Tuesday.

Rice was giving an address at a French university on U.S. foreign policy in Europe, Iraq, the Middle East and elsewhere. She chose Paris because France is a seat of recent criticism of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and of President George W. Bush's diplomacy in general.

In excerpts from her address at Paris's Sciences Politiques, Rice said: "America stands ready to work with Europe on our common agenda, and Europe must stand ready to work with America."

"After all, history will surely judge us not by our old disagreements, but by our new achievements," she said.

Sciences Politiques, known in France as "Sciences Po," is a school of political science that has been at the center of recent debate over the United States' reach and power.

Some 500 students and intellectuals were attending and Rice was to take questions from the audience.

"Time and again in our shared history, Americans and Europeans have enjoyed our greatest successes, for ourselves and for others, when we refuse to accept an unacceptable status quo but instead put our values to work for the cause of freedom," Rice said.

She said, "America has everything to gain" from having a stronger Europe as a partner.

"It is time to turn away from the disagreements of the past," Rice said. "It is time to open a new chapter in our relationship, and a new chapter in our alliance."

Earlier in Rome, Rice said she was optimistic about the chances for Israel and the Palestinians to reach accommodation, in part because of a new thirst for peace throughout the Middle East. She cautioned that "there is still a long road ahead."

"There seems to be a will in the Middle East because people want to live in a different kind of Middle East," Rice said.

She commented after a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini in which they discussed Iraq, the Middle East and other issues.

Their meeting came hours before Israeli and Palestinian leaders declared that their people would stop all military or violent activity, pledging to break the four-year cycle of bloodshed and get peace talks back on track.

Fresh from meeting separately with Israeli and Palestinian leaders over the two previous days, Rice reiterated that success at Tuesday's summit and beyond will depend in part on help and commitment from other Middle Eastern countries the international community in general.

She had harsh words for one neighbor of Israel.

"Syria has been unhelpful in a number of ways," Rice said, adding that Syria knows it must clamp down on terrorism before relations with the United States and the rest of the world can improve.

"I would hope Syria would not want to be isolated and would not want to have bad relations with the United States. ... I would hope Syria would react in a more positive way.

"You cannot on the one hand say you want a process of peace and on the other hand support people who are determined to blow it up," Rice said.

She also underscored her position that the new Palestinian leadership will need to move resolutely to control violence against Israel by its own people.

She acknowledged limitations of the Palestinian security forces that the United States will work to shore up, but said "there are places where they can act ... and they need to act where they can act."

For example, she said that when the Palestinian forces arrest someone, they should hold them; when they see a bomb-making facility they should destroy it; and when they see smuggling they should stop it.

As she moved on in the European leg of her tour, she took exception to a characterization that she was on a mission to divert the subject of international discussion away from disagreements over the Iraq war and other issues with European countries.

"I don't think we came to change the subject," she said. "We came to move to a new phase."

Responding to a question, she said it was not hypocritical for the United States to be pushing democracy and freedom on others despite its own shortcomings, such as abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"Bad things happen in democracies," she said. "Bad things happened at Abu Ghraib that, as the president said, make us sick to our stomach. But the real test of a democratic country is how one deals with those."