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Rice Interview With Mediaset Channel 5 of Italy

Interview With Luca Rigoni of Mediaset Channel 5 of Italy

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Rome, Italy
February 8, 2005

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, today the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president will meet in Sharm el-Sheik. You just met them both. Are you optimistic in this window of opportunity for the Middle East peace process?

SECRETARY RICE: I certainly believe that we have an opportunity before us and more importantly I was impressed with the fact that President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon both spoke of the opportunity before us. And I believe that they think that it is important to seize this opportunity and not to miss it. It's a very good thing that the Egyptian government has arranged this summit in Sharm el-Sheik, that the Jordanian government will be there, it means that the regional actors are involved and committed to this process. And we are all hoping for a successful outcome. It's a long road ahead and of course we've had opportunities for peace before that have been missed, but there seem to be a very strong seriousness of purpose by the two leaders.

QUESTION: After the turnout of the Iraqi elections it seems that some tensions between the United States and certain European countries have been eased. Do you expect a new form of relationship between Washington and let's say Berlin or Paris? You will fly soon to Paris today.

SECRETARY RICE: That's right. I certainly believe that the Iraqi elections were historic which showed us how much the Iraq people value freedom. They went out despite the terrorist threats, despite the dangers to them. These elections give us an opportunity to put our great alliance to work in the service of great goals, as we have in the past. And I look forward to working with all of the members of the transatlantic alliance to further these goals, to support the Iraqi people, to support the Afghan people, and indeed the revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, which have been remarkable affirmations of freedom. Italy and the United States of course have been united to try and help the Iraqi people. I found in my conversations in Berlin that there was a great spirit of cooperation, and I expect to find the same in Paris.

QUESTION: And how do you judge the relationship right now between Italy and the United States? SECRETARY RICE: The relationship between United States and Italy is broad and it's deep and it's positive. Not just the U.S-Italian relationship, but what we've been able to do for international peace and freedom. We've cooperated in Afghanistan. We have cooperated in Iraq. Two very successful first steps on the road to freedom in places where there has not been freedom before. We've been active together in the Middle East, and I think we'll be more active in the future there. And of course through the G8, we have been partners in helping to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction through our global partnership; we have been active on HIV-AIDS; on poverty reduction. This has been a relationship that has been across a vast range of issues, very positive for progress.

QUESTION: There is a lot of talk of an exit strategy in Iraq right now after the elections. Is that true, I mean, from the Washington point of view?

SECRETARY RICE: From our point of view, what we need to have a successful strategy. We need to make sure that we have done everything that we can to support the Iraqis as they start down this path of democracy and stability as they become a country that can be at peace with its neighbors and where all Iraqis can be represented. Obviously the goal is to train the Iraqi security forces to do everything that they can to protect their own security, and we are in the process of doing that training police, training soldiers. But the Iraqis have the coalition forces there under UN mandate. The multinational force is there because the Iraqis believe they need the help. We look forward to the day when their forces are trained and are able to secure Iraq on their own.

QUESTION: Liberty and freedom were among the key words of President Bush's inauguration speech. Do you really think that "exporting" freedom and democracy to other countries will soon mean that terrorism will be defeated? And the world will be more peaceful?

SECRETARY RICE: Well certainly the antidote, the only way to answer the ideology of hatred that we are facing from extremism, is to see the freedom and liberty spread. But in fact it has to come from within. And the good news is that you don't have to export- you don't have to impose- freedom and liberty. People naturally want to be free. People naturally want the human dignity that comes with being able to say what you think, to educate your children, boys and girls to be free from worries about the knock of secret police at night. These are universal aspirations and universal values. You impose tyranny. You don't have to impose democracy.

QUESTION: Do you fear Russia right now?

SECRETARY RICE: I certainly don't fear Russia. The United States does not and no one should. Russia is very far from the Soviet Union that we all feared. Russia is going through a difficult transition. We have been concerned about some of the internal developments in Russia and what it might mean for rule of law, for the spread of democracy throughout Russia. But we continue to talk with the Russians, to work with them. I hope we can engage the Russians more for instance in the NATO-Russia council. The EU-Russia relationship is extremely important because we do not want to see the isolation of Russia, we simply want to see a Russia that is continuing to democratize because it on the basis of common values that relationships are really very deep relationships.

QUESTION: Dr. Rice now a personal question. You are considered among many, many things, an excellent piano player. Do you still have time to practice piano?

SECRETARY RICE: I make time for piano. I play piano with a chamber music group about, oh, twice a month and I continue to play and practice. It's very important to me to continue to play. I started to play when I was about three years old, and it would be like not breathing not to play the piano.

QUESTION: You grew up in Alabama. How does it feel now to be considered, or to be, the most powerful woman on Earth?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't know about that [laughter], but it's great to have an opportunity to serve as Secretary of State.

And Alabama is a long way in the past now, although I am very proud of my home state. My family, many of my family members are still there. Alabama went through difficult times when there was not equal justice for all, for black Americans in Alabama. But we came through that, because there were people who were committed - individuals - who were committed to making America live up to the principles of freedom and democracy that had been espoused by our founding fathers. It's a lesson that, even when freedom is denied, if you have principles and you have institutions to which people can appeal, then these dark times can be overcome. And we're seeing dark times overcome in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. It ought to be very heartening and very clearly for all of us who are on the right side of freedom, it ought to underscore our obligation to continue to help people in that way.

QUESTION: Many analysts describe you as sort of a professor for Mr. Bush in foreign politics, Russia and so on. Is that true? Is that correct? Are you sort of shadow behind President Bush?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, by no means. The President and I have a wonderful relationship that goes back to well before he was elected President. But I've learned as much from President Bush as he's learned from me. I've taken a lot, his very strong commitment to freedom; his very strong belief in these universal values; his understanding that our security here in the United States or in Italy or in France cannot really be firm, unless there is freedom. Because the President understands better than anyone I've ever known that when freedom is on the march, free countries are secure. And when freedom is in retreat we are all vulnerable.

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

Released on February 8, 2005

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