President Bush is committed. I am personally committed. We must all be committed to seizing this chance.
Next month in London, Prime Minister Tony Blair will convene an important conference to help the Palestinian people advance democratic reform and build their institutions. All of us support that effort.
And we will continue to share burdens that will one day soon, we hope, enable us to share in the blessings of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, between Israelis and all their Arab neighbors.
A G-8 Arab League meeting will also convene in Cairo next month. This meeting has the potential to broaden the base of support for Middle East peace and democracy.
The Tunis Declaration of this past May's Arab summit declared the firm resolve of the Arab states to keep pace with the accelerated world changes, through the consolidation of democratic practice, the broadening of participation in political life and public life, and the reinforcement of all components of civil society.
If that resolve forms the basis of Arab participation in this meeting, only good can come from it.
Our efforts in Lebanon also show that the trans-Atlantic partnership means what it says in supporting freedom. The United States and France together sponsored U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559.
We have done this to accelerate international efforts to restore full sovereignty to the Lebanese people and to make possible the complete return of what was once vibrant political life in that country.
The next step in that process should be the fourth free democratic election in the region: fair and competitive parliamentary elections this spring without foreign interference.
In Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and throughout all of the broader Middle East and North Africa, the nature of the political conversation is changing. Ordinary citizens are expressing thoughts and acting together in ways that they have not done before.
These citizens want a future of tolerance, opportunity and peace, not of oppression. Wise leaders are opening their arms to embrace reform and we must stand with them and their societies as they search for a democratic future.
Reformers and peacemakers will prevail in the Middle East for the same reason the West won the Cold War: because liberty is ultimately stronger than repression and freedom is stronger than tyranny.
Today's radical Islamists are swimming against the tide of the human spirit. They grab the headlines with their ruthless brutality and they can be brutal.
But they are dwelling on the outer fringes of a great world religion and they are radicals of a special sort. They are in revolt against the future.
The face of terrorism in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, called democracy an evil principle. To our enemies, liberte, egalite and fraternite are also evil principles. They want to dominate others, not to liberate them. They demand conformity, not equality. They still regard difference as a license to kill.
But they are wrong. Human freedom will march ahead. And we must help smooth its way.
We can do that by helping societies to find their own way to fulfill the promise of freedom. We can help aspiring societies to reduce poverty and grow economically through sound development strategies and free trade.
We must be aggressive and compassionate in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other infectious diseases that tear families apart, destroy individuals and make development of whole continents impossible.
Ultimately, we must learn how to put developing states on the path to self-sustained growth and stability. After all it is one thing to fix the sanitation plant or repair a schoolhouse, it is another to establish the essential components of a decent society: a free press, an independent judiciary, a sound financial system, political parties and genuine representative government.
Development, transparency and democracy reinforce each other. That is why the spread of freedom under the rule of law is our best hope for progress.
Freedom unlocks the creativity and drive that produces genuine wealth. Freedom is the key to incorruptible institutions. Freedom is the key to responsive governments.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a time of unprecedented opportunity for the trans-Atlantic alliance. If we make the pursuit of global freedom the organizing principle of the 21st century, we will achieve historic global advances for justice and prosperity, for liberty and for peace.
But a global agenda requires a global partnership. So let us multiply our common effort.
That is why the United States above all welcomes the growing unity of Europe. America has everything to gain from having a stronger Europe as a partner in building a safer and better world.
So let each of us bring to the table our ideas and our experience and our resources, and let us discuss and decide together how best to employ them for democratic change.
We know we have to deal with the world as it is. But we do not have to accept the world as it is.
Imagine where we would be today if the brave founders of French liberty or of American liberty had simply been content with the world as it was. They knew that history does not just happen; it is made. History is made by men and women of conviction, of commitment and of courage, who will not let their dreams be denied.
Our trans-Atlantic partnership will not just endure in the struggle. It will flourish, because our ties are unbreakable.
We care deeply about one another. We respect each other. We are strong, but we are strongest when we put our values to work for those whose aspirations of freedom and prosperity have yet to be met.
Great opportunities await us. Let us seize them now, together, for freedom's sake.
Thank you for your attention.
QUESTION: Welcome. My question is very simple. Iraq Shiites want Islam to be the only source of legislation. Do you think it's a positive thing? And if not, what do you think the coalition can do in order to keep a separation between the states and religion?
RICE: Thank you very much for the excellent question.
I believe that the Iraqi people will now engage in an intensely political process.
They have elected new leaders. The government will be appointed. And then they will have to use this opportunity to find institutions and means to bring all of the elements of Iraqi society together, that is Shia and Kurds and Sunnis and Turkomen and other minorities as well.
The democratic process is a process of overcoming differences peacefully. And I believe that everything that we are reading from the Shia, who are the majority in the country and who have probably done extremely well in these elections, is that they understand their responsibility not to do to their fellow Iraqis what was done to them by those who had them live in tyranny and fear.