The following are highlights of testimony by Secretary of State-nominee Condoleezza Rice at her confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
Ms. Rice testified she stands behind the decision to invade Iraq, though pre-war intelligence on alleged weapons of mass destruction was faulty. She also pledged to repair ties with U.S. allies strained over the conflict, and vowed to vigorously build alliances with the world's free countries.
Ms. Rice said she believes America's "great mission" includes the "spread of freedom and democracy" around the globe. She described several countries as "outposts of tyranny," including Cuba, Belarus, Burma, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe.
The Secretary of State-nominee said the United States wants to see a government in Iran that will live up to its obligations. She said Iran can not be a legitimate participant in the international community until it stops pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran denies it is developing nuclear weapons. Ms. Rice said the Bush administration wants to see a regime in Iran that will deal with terrorism in addition to answering questions about its nuclear program. She says Iran needs a government that will also deal with al-Qaida operatives based in the country and address its human rights situation.
Ms. Rice said recent developments in the Middle East present what she calls a good opportunity for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She cited this month's Palestinian elections and Israel's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip as reasons for hope. She said President Bush envisions a viable, independent and democratic Palestinian state existing alongside Israel. The nominee said the Bush administration will be actively engaged in peace efforts, although she cautioned that progress depends on the parties meeting their responsibilities. She said Palestinian leaders must stop militants from attacking Israel, while Israel must improve living conditions for Palestiniansn.
The Secretary of State-nominee said U.S. alliances with Asian countries have never been stronger. She said the United States and key partners like Japan, South Korea and Australia are working to bolster security and prosperity in the region. But Ms. Rice said she believes U.S. policy has "moved beyond the false assumption" that it is possible to have good relations with all of Asia's powers. She said the United States and China are working towards a "candid, cooperative and constructive" relationship.
Later, she said the Bush administration will continue to pursue six-nation talks to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. She repeated that the United States has no intention of invading North Korea but says she believes the standoff must be solved through multilateral diplomacy.
She says it is hard to think of Europe as "wholly free" until the situation in the Balkans is settled. Ms. Rice voiced strong support for Serbia's President Boris Tadic. She said she hopes Mr. Tadic will continue down a path of democracy and cooperation with Europe. Ms. Rice said in Kosovo, "new standards" of minority rights must be adopted in order to make progress in the province. Republican Senator George Voinovich said he believes the region needs to be given greater importance in U.S. foreign policy. He said he also pressed outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell on the issue.
She says Venezuela has to be viewed as a "negative force" in Latin America. Ms. Rice said the government of President Hugo Chavez is negative in its effects on neighboring countries, negative in embracing the only undemocratic nation in the region - an apparent reference to Cuba - and negative in its suppression of opposing voices. She said the relationship between the leftist Mr. Chavez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro has been "deeply troubling." Earlier in the hearing, Ms. Rice described Mr. Chavez as a democratically elected leader who does not govern in a democratic way.
She said she believes the United States needs to further enhance its use of broadcasts, including the Voice of America, to present the truth around the world. Ms. Rice said there is nothing more important in a war of ideas than giving people access to the truth. She said VOA, Radio Free Europe and Radio Marti do this. Ms. Rice says the United States has also done good things with its relatively new Arab-language television station al-Hurra, the Arabic music and news service Radio Sawa and Radio Farda in Persian. She said as secretary of state she looked forward to working with the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an autonomous government entity that is responsible for U.S. international broadcasting. The members of the board come from both major U.S. political parties and are appointed by the president.
The U.S. Secretary of State nominee called the concentration of power in the Kremlin "a real problem." Ms. Rice said the direction in which Russia is headed is not very good. She said the Russian government has been very constructive in a lot of areas, including Iran and Afghanistan. But she said it does not excuse the Kremlin for consolidating power at the detriment of other institutions. Ms. Rice said the United States will continue to press Russia to embrace democracy while spending $43 million to help Russian institutions develop a civil society. Russian President Vladimir Putin last year announced he would appoint regional governors, scrapping local elections. The Kremlin also auctioned off the key part of the Yukos oil company, which was later bought by the state-run oil company. .