PARIS – Nearly two years after the United States broke with many of its Western allies over the Iraq war, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) told European intellectuals Tuesday "it is time to turn away from the disagreements of the past."
"America stands ready to work with Europe on our common agenda and Europe must stand ready to work with America," Rice told an audience of French students and intellectuals at Paris' Science Politique (search).
Touting the recent elections in Afghanistan and Iraq as successes, Rice said Europe and America must work together to help the fledgling democracies thrive.
"After all, history will surely judge us not by our old disagreements, but by our new achievements," she said.
Some European opinion pages have called Bush's fresh call to spread freedom across the globe arrogant or naive.
Rice's French counterpart, Foreign Minister Michel Barnier (search), later delivered double-edged thanks. After meeting with Rice, Barnier told reporters, "It's time to get off to a new start," but he added that "alliance is not the same as allegiance."
"Let me say loud and clear that the world is a better place when Americans and Europeans work together," Barnier said, "while respecting one another's particular views and sensibilities."
A smiling Rice was greeted with warm applause as she walked onto the stage. She said she was happy to be in France and looked forward to meeting with French President Jacques Chirac (search) and the new French foreign minister.
Paris was chosen as the site of Rice's first major U.S. foreign policy speech because France has been the most vocal Western critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and of the Bush administration's foreign policy in general.
Rice sought to remind the audience that both the allies were inspired by the same values — freedom, democracy and human dignity — and by each other.
"In my own experience, a black woman named Rosa Parks was just tired one day of being told to sit in the back of the bus," Rice said. "So she refused to move, and she launched a revolution for freedom in the American South."
History has shown that revolutions striving for freedom can start in mundane ways but need outside help, Rice said.
Rice cited Lech Walesa (search) and his labor strike in Poland, Afghans and Iraqis who recently voted after years of repression and ordinary men and women who helped bring down the Berlin Wall in 1989.
"Yet that day of freedom in November 1989 could never have happened without the full support of the free nations of the West," she said.
"Time and again in our shared history, Americans and Europeans have enjoyed our greatest successes, for ourselves and for others, when we refuse to accept an unacceptable status quo but instead put our values to work for the cause of freedom," Rice said.
She said "America has everything to gain" from having a stronger Europe as a partner.
"It is time to turn away from the disagreements of the past," Rice said. "It is time to open a new chapter in our relationship, and a new chapter in our alliance."
Rice said the United States and Europe should move beyond "a partnership based on common threats" and focus instead on a partnership based upon "common opportunities, beyond the trans-Atlantic community."
Barnier also said that France, Britain and Germany still think their joint diplomacy is the right approach to dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon. "We need American support and confidence," he said.
The United States has not joined the European effort, which some U.S. officials have privately described as coddling the Iranian government.
Barnier's comments were a reminder of France's frustration that Bush went to war in Iraq despite vociferous opposition here and elsewhere in Europe.
Rice's address paves the way for President Bush's first visit to Europe since his re-election on Feb. 21. Bush had pledged in his inaugural speech and State of the Union address to mend transatlantic ties in order to promote liberty around the world.
"We on the right side of freedom's divide have the obligation to help those born on the wrong side of freedom's divide," Rice said.
"Freedom in the Muslim worlds is urgent work and cannot be deferred."
Science Politique, known in France as Science Po, is a school of political science that has been at the center of recent debate over America's reach and power.
Some 500 students and intellectuals attended and Rice later took questions from the audience, ranging from Iraq's effort to establish a democracy to the development of biological weapons. She told the students and guests that the Iraqis would now engage in a political process to form a government that was not at odds with religion.
"What we must understand there is no inherent conflict between Islam and democracy," she said.
Rice also explained why she chose Paris considering the rift over Iraq between the two nations. "This is a deep broad and active relationship that is very effective on world peace," she said. "When we disagree, we still disagree as friends."
Rice, on the job just two weeks, did not directly address criticism of the Iraq war but repeatedly pointed to what she called the bravery of Iraqi voters who turned out for elections last month despite threats of terrorism.
"I know it looks really hard to talk about the spread of freedom and liberty into places where it has never been," Rice said. "I know it looks really hard, when we see the pictures from Iraq of the suicide bombers, to think that the Iraqi people are going to build a free and stable democratic state," she said.
Jean-Paul Fitoussi, also an economics professor, said Rice delivered a "profound speech on the opening that Europe and the United States can take together."
Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing mentioned a different attitude and partnership with Europe. "It's an improvement," he said.
Earlier in Rome, Rice said she was optimistic about the chances for Israel and the Palestinians to reach accommodation, in part because of a new thirst for peace throughout the Middle East. She cautioned that "there is still a long road ahead."
"There seems to be a will in the Middle East because people want to live in a different kind of Middle East," Rice said.
She commented after a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini in which they discussed Iraq, the Middle East other issues.
Their meeting came hours before Israeli and Palestinian leaders declared that their people would stop all military or violent activity, pledging to break the four-year cycle of bloodshed and get peace talks back on track.
FOX News' James Rosen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.