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Bush praises Rice at swearing-in ceremony
Updated: 2005-01-29 01:40

WASHINGTON - Condoleezza Rice took the oath as secretary of state — a second time — 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, a neighbor in Washington's Watergate apartment building, administered the 137-year-old oath in the State Department's formal dining room Friday. Rice's uncle Alto Ray and two aunts, Geona Patterson and Mattie Bonds, held the Bible.

It was her second swearing-in. The first was in a private ceremony at the White House Wednesday night with White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. officiating.

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," the president said.

"Colin Powell left big shoes to fill when he left the State Department," Bush added. "Condoleezza Rice is the person to fill them."

Bush catapulted Rice to the role of top U.S. diplomat after she served for four years as his national security adviser. "Condi's appointment and confirmation as secretary of state marks a remarkable transition in what is already a career of outstanding service and accomplishment," he said.

Calling his trusted adviser by her nickname, Condi, througout, Bush said his own family had been "enriched by our friendship with this remarkable person."

"We love her," the president said.

Rice hit the ground running Thursday with a pep talk to cheering State Department employees crowded into a lobby, meetings on Iraq and the tsunami disaster and telephone conversations with seven foreign leaders as she planned a trip to Europe and the Middle East next week.

Her trip next week to Europe, foreshadowing one later in February by the president, was widely expected, but not her foray to the Middle East.

It promptly carries out a promise she made to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during her confirmation hearings that she would become personally involved in efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

It will be a brief visit, tucked in-between European stops and confined to meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. There are no planned diversions to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or Iraq.

The aim is to measure the likelihood of generating momentum to drive Israel and the Palestinians to the peace table.

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