- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2005

PARIS — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for a new chapter in trans-Atlantic relations yesterday, asking Europe to join forces with the United States to spread freedom and democracy around the world.

“It is time to turn away from the disagreements of the past. It is time to open a new chapter in our relationship and a new chapter in our alliance,” she said in a speech at the prestigious Institute of Political Science in Paris.

“America stands ready to work with Europe on our common agenda, and Europe must stand ready to work with America,” she said. “After all, history will surely judge us not by our old disagreements, but by our new achievements.”

The top U.S. diplomat flies to Brussels to the headquarters of the European Union today, with America and key European states at odds over negotiations to end Iran’s suspected nuclear-arms programs and weapons sales to China.

The United States has stood on the sidelines of Europe’s efforts to negotiate the end of Iran’s nuclear endeavors. It also has opposed European arms sales to China.

Speaking in France, the axis of European opposition to the war in Iraq, Miss Rice’s appeal invoked the spirit of the allies’ Cold War cooperation.

“Wise leaders are opening their arms to embrace reform, and we must stand with them and their societies as they search for a democratic future,” Miss Rice said.

But as during the Cold War, she said, military power should not be the main tool to achieve that goal.

“Reformers and peacemakers will prevail in the Middle East for the same reason the West won the Cold War, because liberty is ultimately stronger than repression and freedom is stronger than tyranny,” Miss Rice said.

“This is not an issue of military power,” she said. “This is an issue of the power of ideas, of the power of being able to support people in those societies who are just tired of being denied their freedom.”

The Middle East, she said, “is a part of the world in which the status quo is not going to be acceptable.”

A senior U.S. official traveling with Miss Rice said her remarks were designed to signal a new focus of the Bush administration’s strategy to fight international terrorism — a shift in emphasis from hunting and killing Islamic militants to securing liberty and prosperity in the places that breed them.

By choosing Paris to deliver her first major foreign-policy address in Europe, Miss Rice put herself squarely at the center of a continuing debate about the future of an international system dominated by the United States.

At the same time, she offered an olive branch to Europe nearly two years after the start of the divisive Iraq war.

The common agenda that Miss Rice proposed was an extension of the main theme in President Bush’s inaugural address last month of spreading freedom and democracy around the globe, including in the Middle East.

Both the United States and Europe long have fought for those values at home and protected them when they were threatened, she said.

It is time, she added, to join efforts and help less fortunate countries rid themselves of oppression and tyranny.

The secretary, who is visiting the Middle East and eight European countries during her first foreign trip since taking office, spoke to an audience of about 500 academics, politicians, journalists and students.

She said she chose to deliver her speech in France because it “has a great tradition of debate, of intellectual ferment.”

With France’s opposition to the war in Iraq, Franco-American ties reached one of the lowest points in history. France also has irked the Bush administration by promoting its vision of a “multipolar world” free of a single superpower.

There were no hostile questions from the audience yesterday. Miss Rice received warm applause, but no standing ovations.

French President Jacques Chirac later welcomed the secretary to the Elysee Palace and complimented her on the speech twice, saying it was “very good, both in form and substance,” according to a senior State Department official who attended the meeting.

Mr. Chirac and Foreign Minister Michel Barnier were friendly and cordial in public as well as in private, both U.S. and French officials said.

“I sometimes say that U.S.-French relations are far better in practice than they are in theory,” Miss Rice said.

A spokesman for Mr. Chirac said he “confirmed that France shares the resolve to support the political process that got under way with the elections [in Iraq] and to promote that country’s integrity and stability.”

The senior U.S. official said Miss Rice’s speech also was intended to send the message to Europe that the Bush administration has ended its own internal debate about whether to view a united Europe as a rival or as a partner.

“The United States,” the secretary said, “welcomes the growing unity of Europe. America has everything to gain from having a stronger Europe as a partner in building a safer and better world.”

She predicted that the “trans-Atlantic partnership will not just endure in this struggle; it will flourish because our ties are unbreakable.”

“We know we have to deal with the world as it is. But we do not have to accept the world as it is. Imagine where we would be today if the brave founders of French liberty or of American liberty had simply been content with the world as it was,” Miss Rice said.

“They knew that history does not just happen; it is made,” she said. “History is made by men and women of conviction, of commitment and of courage, who will not let their dreams be denied.”

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