Washington, D.C. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday held out the prospect of improved relations with the remaining two members of President Bush's "axis of evil," Iran and North Korea, as long as they meet international demands over their nuclear programs.
Rice said the Bush administration in its remaining year would welcome fundamental changes in its dealings with the two countries, as well as with Syria, and as an example pointed to warming ties with Libya, which renounced weapons of mass destruction in 2003.
"The United States doesn't have permanent enemies, we're too great a country for that," she told reporters at a State Department press conference.
But she stressed that neither North Korea nor Iran would benefit from closer relations with the U.S. unless they come clean about their weapons intentions.
The third member of the "axis of evil," Saddam Hussein's Iraq, did not do so to Bush's satisfaction and was invaded in 2003, although no weapons of mass destruction were found. The administration has said it wants to deal diplomatically with the threats it sees from North Korea and Iran.