President Bush's national security adviser says progress is being made on the political front in Iraq, despite the violence that continues in Najaf and elsewhere. Condoleezza Rice is urging patience.

She says there are hopeful signs coming out of Iraq. But at the same time, she stresses Americans must remember the transition to democracy is not easy or quick.

"We need to be both more patient of people who are making these early steps, less critical of every twist and turn, less certain that every up and down is going to collapse the process and more humble about how long it has taken us to get to a multi-ethnic democracy that works," she said.

The comments came in an appearance before the U.S. Institute for Peace. During a question and answer session, Ms. Rice was asked to reflect on the differences between the United States and some of its European allies over Iraq. She said that, overall, the trans-Atlantic relationship is strong.

"The trans-Atlantic relationship is actually in very good shape. And it is in very good shape because we have had to confront, once again, the fact that we are an alliance of values," she said.

Ms. Rice says there is now a common interest in building a free, democratic Iraq. She also said there is a consensus growing across the Atlantic on Iran.

She said, for a time, the United States was the country most concerned about Iran's nuclear ambitions. But she quickly added, others now agree the Iranians are using their civilian nuclear power program as a cover for development of nuclear arms.

"That is one of the stories of the coming together of the international community around the insistence that Iran deal with its international obligations and a lot of concern about it," she said.

Ms. Rice then pointed to recent action in the United Nations on the violence in Sudan's troubled Darfur region as another example of trans-Atlantic cooperation. She said the Security Council has warned of possible action, if the Sudanese government does nothing to end violence against civilians.

"And so, I suspect, if they do not act within the 30 days they were granted, people will be prepared to look at what those next steps ought to be, and nothing is off the table," she said.

Ms. Rice says the real problem in dealing with the Darfur crisis is not the alliance, it is the leadership in Khartoum.