View Full Version : Protests greet Rice in UK tour

04-01-2006, 10:20 AM
Rice met by more protests on tour
BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/4866786.stm)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she was enjoying her trip to the north-west of England despite continued anti-war protests. She was speaking at Blackburn Town Hall on Saturday following a meeting with Muslim and civic leaders.

Earlier, Ms Rice and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw arrived to noise from both protesters and supporters.

"I find them an exercise in democracy, I don't find them off-putting or disconcerting," she told reporters.

Mr Straw described crowds of supporters outside as "remarkable" and dismissed the number of demonstrators as "not large".

"They (protesters) said they were going to get bus loads and bus loads in. Well they didn't do very well," said Mr Straw.

"If they had asked me I could have done better for them."

Ms Rice described her meeting with Muslim leaders as "stimulating and candid", and reiterated the warm welcome she had received from a number of local people.

"The opportunity to come here and be in this diverse and very interesting community that has come back from very tough times has really been stimulating for me," she said.

"I've enjoyed it and I'm glad I did it and I look forward to seeing other parts of other countries in the world because I think it's important to get outside of capitals."

As Mr Straw and Ms Rice left the town hall there was booing from about 200 demonstrators gathered outside.

The pair did not pause, as they had earlier, to wave at supporters who had gathered further down the street.

Judith Hodgkinson, 35, from Blackburn, who was among the supporters, said: "I think it is a major coup for Blackburn that she (Ms Rice) is here.

"She's a very powerful woman and she makes very important decisions. To me it's astonishing to have a person like that in a town like Blackburn."

Mrs Hodgkinson's view contrasted with protesters who booed Ms Rice and branded her a "war criminal".

Amar Hassain, 23, a security guard from Manchester, said: "I think it's wrong that we have allowed Condoleezza Rice to come here.

"We are against the invasion of Iraq. It was a criminal offence."

After a private lunch with some journalists, Ms Rice is due to return to Liverpool where she will visit the Maritime Museum.

No mistake

On Friday, Ms Rice said she was not surprised by the anti-war protests that had greeted her visits to a Lancashire school and a concert at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA).

Earlier, Mosque leaders in Blackburn withdrew their invitation for Ms Rice to visit them amid warnings of protests from a group of Muslims, which included members of the Stop the War Coalition.

It said it hoped thousands of people would join a march and rally against US foreign policy.

On the BBC's Today programme on Saturday Ms Rice said there had been mistakes made in Iraq, saying: "If you've ever done anything then you've probably not done it perfectly."

But she added: "It was not a mistake to overthrow Saddam Hussein. It was not a mistake to unleash the forces of democracy in the Middle East."

The visit to the UK is designed to repay a visit Mr Straw made to Ms Rice's hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, last year.

04-01-2006, 10:21 AM
Rice shrugs off UK visit protests
BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4867824.stm)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said she is not troubled by noisy protests against her current UK visit. "I find them an exercise in democracy, I find them not in any way off-putting or disconcerting," she said, on a visit to the north-west town of Blackburn.

Angry demonstrators could be heard as Ms Rice held a joint press conference with her UK counterpart Jack Straw.

The secretary of state spoke after having held what she said were positive talks with local Muslim leaders.

About 200 noisy demonstrators - some of whom carried a coffin draped with a US flag - were gathered outside the town hall where Ms Rice and Mr Straw spoke to reporters.

Asked if she had been embarrassed by the protests which have followed her around on her two-day visit, Ms Rice said she respected the demonstrators' right to protest.

"Democracy is the only system that allows people to be heard and be heard peacefully," she said.

"When there are more places where people's voices can be heard peacefully, especially in the Middle East, we are all going to be better off."

Saddam overthrow 'right'

Ms Rice said her meeting with local Muslim leaders had been "stimulating and candid". She said they had discussed how conflicts could be better resolved through "politics and debate than through conflict and violence".

What had emerged, she said, was the view that "There is no difference or conflict between Islamic values and democratic values.

"In fact people who practise Islamic faith live here in a great democracy, as participants in a great democracy, as they do in the United States, as they do in India, in Indonesia and other places around the world."

The secretary of state defended US foreign policy, including the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"I am confident the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein and give the Iraqi people the right to democracy was the right decision," she said.

Asked when the US was planning to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, Ms Rice said the camp would not remain open "any longer than is needed".

But she said: "We have to recognise Guantanamo is there for a reason, because we captured people on battlefields... who were either plotting or planning or actively engaged in terrorist activities."

04-01-2006, 03:07 PM
I wonder what that feels like. Were everywhere you go your greated with protests and negativity.