- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2005

During the course of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s whirlwind tour of Europe and the Middle East, which is scheduled to end tomorrow, America’s chief diplomat did a stellar job of explaining the president’s policies in a wide variety of areas. She energetically made the case that Washington and Europe must work together to ensure that Iran cannot be permitted to develop nuclear weapons, although she did so in a tone that was notably softer than Mr. Bush’s State of the Union comments about Iran. She also said that the allies have an interest in working together to help the Iraqi people develop democratic institutions and that Syria must end its support for terrorism and demonstrate “that it does not want to be isolated, that it does not want to have bad relations with the United States.”

During visits to Jerusalem and Ramallah, she met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, where she emphasized Washington’s support for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. Just yesterday Messrs. Sharon and Abbas announced an end to four years of fighting. During her meetings with Turkish officials, she worked to reassure them that the Kurds of northern Iraq would remain a part of that country and not become an independent state. In Poland, the government — which had announced that one-third of its 2,400 troops in Iraq would be withdrawn following the Jan. 30 election — appeared to have second thoughts about pulling out after Miss Rice’s weekend visit.

The secretary of state also reached out to Russia, where she made the point that it would be a bad idea to try to isolate Moscow by withholding support for its admission to the World Trade Organization. But at the same time, she emphasized that Russia needs to show a genuine commitment to the “basics of democracy,” which include strengthening an independent judiciary and permitting a free and independent press to flourish, if it wants better relations with the United States.

Part of the reason her trip went so well is the momentum from Iraq’s successful elections 10 days ago. But it is also possible that some may be rethinking the reflexive anti-Americanism that has been so pervasive in Europe’s dealings with Washington — particularly over the Iraq issue.

Europeans, at least for the moment, are seemingly more receptive to the foreign policies of the Bush administration. By any measure, Miss Rice’s trip is turning out quite well.


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