Condoleezza Rice sworn in as secretary of state; first Black woman to hold post

Condoleezza Rice sworn in as secretary of state; first Black woman to hold post

Condoleezza Rice recently took the oath as secretary of state with President Bush’s assurance to the world that she will lead by “character and conviction and wisdom.”

Rice pledged, in response, to use diplomacy to widen the community of democracy. “You have given us our mission and we are ready to serve our great country and the cause of freedom for which it stands,” she said.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg administered the oath in the State Department’s formal dining room. Rice’s uncle Alto Ray and two aunts, Genoa McPhatter and Mattie Bonds, held the Bible.

Ginsburg praised Rice as a person of “exceptional talent.”

Both Bush and Rice paid tribute in their remarks to Colin Powell, who was secretary of state in Bush’s first term. “All of us admire and appreciate the service of Colin Powell,” Bush said. “Colin Powell left big shoes to fill when he left the State Department. Condoleezza Rice is the person to fill them.”

Bush added: “Condi’s appointment and confirmation as secretary of state marks a remarkable transition in what is already a career of outstanding service and accomplishment.”

Calling Rice by her nickname “Condi” throughout, Bush said his family had been “enriched by our friendship with this remarkable person.” The president said, “We love her.”

It was Rice’s ceremonial swearing-in. Two days earlier, she had been officially sworn in so that she could start her job. Rice was sworn in by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card in his West Wing office during a private ceremony hours after she was confirmed by the Senate in a vote 85 to 13. Her designated replacement as national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, held the Bible.

Rice is the first Black woman to hold the post of secretary of state, America’s top diplomat.

Secretary Rice, Bush’s national security adviser since 2001, is viewed as one of his closest advisers on the war and terrorism issues.

As secretary of state, she will supervise an agency with more than 200 embassies and consulates.

On her first day on the job, Rice reached out to European allies and partners in the war on terrorism and echoed Bush’s inaugural charge to promote liberty across the globe.

“The president has set forth a really bold agenda for American foreign policy,” Rice said to State Department employees who applauded as she entered the lobby.

“I can’t think of a better call than to say that America will stand for freedom and for liberty, that America will stand with those who want their aspirations met for liberty and freedom,” she said.

Rice made dozens of phone calls to foreign ministers and heads of government, including Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini.

Rice has a heavy task to rebuild European and other alliances worn thin by international opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and to help guide Middle East peace efforts after the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Rice and her designated deputy, Robert Zoellick, plan to visit all NAT0 capitals in the next few months.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Johnson Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group