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Transcript: Rice's Speech on Transatlantic Ties

This obligation requires us to adapt to new circumstances, and we are doing that.

NATO has enlarged in not only its membership, but its vision.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe now operates not only on a continent whole, free and at peace, but beyond Europe as well.

The agenda of U.S.-E.U. cooperation is wider than ever and still growing, along with the European Union itself.

We agree on the interwoven threats that we face today: terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and regional conflicts and failed states and organized crime.

We have not always seen eye to eye, however, on how to address the threats. We have had our disagreements.

But it is time to turn away from the disagreements of the past. It is time to open a new chapter in our relationship and a new chapter in our alliance.

America stands ready to work with Europe on our common agenda and Europe must stand ready to work with America.

After all, history will surely judge us not by our old disagreements, but by our new achievements.

The key to our future success lies in getting beyond a partnership based on common threats and building an even stronger partnership based on common opportunities, even those beyond the trans-Atlantic community.

We can be confident in our success in this because the fair wind of freedom is at our back. Freedom is spreading, from the villages of Afghanistan to the squares in Ukraine, from the streets in the Palestinian territories to the streets of Georgia to the polling stations of Iraq.

Freedom defines our opportunity and our challenge. It is a challenge that we are determined to meet.

First, we are joining together to encourage political pluralism, economic openness and the growth of civil society through the Broader Middle East Initiative.

The flagship of that initiative is the Forum for the Future, a partnership of progress between the democratic world and nearly two dozen nations extending from Morocco to Pakistan. The forum's mission is to support and accelerate political, economic and educational reform. Its first meeting in Rabat last December was a great success.

Beyond this bold initiative for reform, in which America and European efforts are fused, we also work in parallel. The European Union has a decade-long experience with advancing modernization through the Barcelona Process. Individual E.U. member states have also been working for years to nurture the attitudes and institutions of liberal democracy in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

And it is not just our governments that are promoting freedom. American- and European-based nongovernmental organizations devote huge efforts to the reform process.

Our people exemplify the values of free society as they work in their private capacities. Our societies, not just our governments, are advancing women's rights and minority rights. Our societies, not just our governments, are making space for free media, for independent judiciaries, for the right of labor to organize.

The full vitality of our free societies is infusing the process of reform, and that is a reason for optimism.

Just as our own democratic paths have not always been smooth, we realize that democratic reform in the Middle East will be difficult and uneven. Different societies will advance in their own way.

Freedom by its very nature must be home-grown. It must be chosen. It cannot be given and it certainly cannot be imposed.

That is why, as the president has said, the spread of freedom is the work of generations. But spreading freedom in the Arab and Muslim worlds is also urgent work that cannot be deferred.

Second, we must build on recent successes by stabilizing and advancing democratic progress in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Last October, the people of Afghanistan voted to set their country on a democratic course. And just nine days ago, the people of Iraq voted not for a government, but for a democratic future.

All of us were impressed by the high voter turnout in Iraq. Each ink-stained finger belonged to a man or a woman who defied suicide bombers, mortar attacks and threats of beheading to exercise a basic right as a citizen.

There comes a time in the life of every nation where its people refuse to accept the status quo that demeans their basic humanity. There comes a time when people take control of their own lives. For the Iraqi people, that time has come.

There is much more to do to create a democratic and unified Iraq and the Iraqis themselves must lead the way. But we in the trans- Atlantic partnership must rise to the challenge that the Iraqi people have set for us. They have shown extraordinary bravery and determination. We must show them solidarity and generosity in equal measure.

We must support them as they form their political institutions. We must help them with economic reconstruction and development. And we must stay by their side to provide security until Iraqis themselves can take full ownership of that job.

Third, we are working to achieve new successes, particularly in the Arab-Israeli diplomacy.

America and Europe both support a two-state solution, an independent and democratic Palestinian state living side by side in peace with the Jewish state of Israel. And we all support the process of reform in the Palestinian Authority because democratic reform will enlarge the basis for a genuine peace.

That is why we were supportive of the Palestinian people in their historic election on January 9th. And Europe and America support the Israeli government's determination to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank.

We both see that withdrawal as an opportunity to move ahead, first to the road map and ultimately to our clear destination, a genuine and real peace.

We are acting to transform opportunity into achievement.

I have just come from meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas.

I was impressed with the fact that they said the same thing: This is a time of opportunity and we must not lose it.

I urge them to build on this momentum, to seize this chance. And today's meeting of the Palestinian and Egyptian presidents, the Israeli prime minister and Jordan's king was clearly an important step forward.

The United States and the parties have no illusions about the difficulties ahead. There are deep divisions to overcome.

I emphasized to both sides the need to end terrorism, the need to build new and democratic Palestinian economic, political and security institutions, the need for Israel to meet its own obligations and make the difficult choices before it, and the need for all of us in America, in Europe, in the region to make clear to Iran and Syria that they must stop supporting the terrorists who would seek to destroy the peace that we seek.

Success is not assured, but America is resolute. This is the best chance for peace that we are likely to see for some years to come, and we are acting to help Israelis and Palestinians seize this chance.

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