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Rice seeks new chapter in Europe
February 8, 2005

Rice comes to Paris after visiting Italy, a close ally on Iraq

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called for a "new chapter" in the transatlantic alliance, in her first key foreign policy speech in Paris.

"It is time to turn away from the disagreements of the past" and Europe must "stand ready to work with America", she said at a university.

Washington said she chose Paris for what is seen as a key speech because it was a centre of debate.

The French capital is the sixth stop in Ms Rice's eight-nation tour.

'Common agenda'

The new US secretary of state's speech at the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques was watched closely.

There has been high anticipation that the US will seek to warm ties strained by Iraq.

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

Ms Rice acknowledged that Europe and the US "have not always seen eye to eye", but said it "is time to open a new chapter".

"America stands ready to work with Europe on our common agenda, and Europe must stand ready to work with America," Ms Rice said.


Fri: Met UK's Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in London; talks with Germany's Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin
Sat: Talks with leaders in Germany, Poland and Turkey; met Russian foreign minister in Ankara
Sun: Met Turkish government, then on to Israel where met Ariel Sharon
Mon: Talked with Mahmoud Abbas in West Bank
Tue: To deliver speech in Paris
Wed: Talks with French ministers, then on to meet Nato and EU officials in Brussels and Luxembourg
Thurs: Returns to Washington

Can Rice heal rifts?

Correspondents say the choice of Paris for Ms Rice's speech is seen by many in France as a conciliatory gesture from a second Bush administration.

French judicial officials said on Tuesday that the US had agreed to repatriate the last three French detainees detained at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

France is talking of a fresh start for its relations with the US, playing up common values and long-standing areas of co-operation with the US.

Warning to Syria

Ms Rice arrived in Paris from Rome, where she held talks on Tuesday morning with Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini and the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Speaking earlier in the Italian capital, Ms Rice said she was optimistic about the Middle East peace process, but challenged the Syrian government to back the negotiations.

She called on Syria to end its support of militant groups, and to show it did not want to be isolated.

In the French capital, Ms Rice will meet President Jacques Chirac, as well as Foreign Minister Michel Barnier.

On Wednesday, she will visit Brussels and Luxembourg for talks with Nato and European Union officials.

Her trip is set to pave the way for President George W Bush's own visit to Europe later in February


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