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Condoleezza Rice starts tour with London meetings

Condoleezza Rice starts tour with London meetings

The US Secretary of State had a meeting with Tony Blair on the first leg of a ten-day visit to Europe and the Middle East.

Condoleezza Rice and the Prime Minister talked about a wide range of international issues.

She then gave a joint press conference with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Ms Rice said she chose to come to Britain first because America has 'no better friend and no better ally.'

"We deeply value the close relationship between our two countries, and of course we share so much, but we of course share a global agenda as well."

The Secretary of State is due to travel to the Middle East but her itinerary also includes visits to several other European countries - including France, Turkey and Italy.

She confirmed that she would return to Britain in March to take part in Middle East peace talks.

Doorstep press conference with Condoleezza Rice

Could I just say a very warm word of welcome to Secretary Rice, Condi, who is a good friend of our's here and we are delighted to see her in her new role and congratulate her warmly. It is an absolutely excellent appointment and we all look forward to working with you in the months and years to come. Obviously her visit here comes in advance of a visit to Europe, and the President's visit later this month. We will be discussing Iraq no doubt, and the Middle East and various other issues and I am sure it will be an excellent and constructive meeting, as ever, and you guys are going to get a chance, the grilling comes later with Jack I think, but anyway it is a real pleasure and honour for us to welcome her here.

Ms Rice:

Thank you very much Prime Minister for welcoming me and for having me here on my first stop on what is going to be an extended tour of Europe, and I am also going to the Middle East, and I look forward to conversations here to set up the President's visit. We have a lot of work to do and I want to thank you for your leadership and the friendship of Great Britain and the British people as we try and spread
freedom and democracy through the world as we work to support the Iraqi people in their quest, and most especially, as you and the President have committed, as we try and bring to the Israelis and the Palestinians the chance for permanent peace.

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