Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Rice Speaks at Elite French University

The prestigious French political science university
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chose as the stage
for advancing the healing process between the United
States and France is considered by some the "Oxford of
France" — and produces many of the country's diplomats
and public servants.

Still, students said Tuesday it will take more than a
speech and Rice's declaration that "it is time to turn
away from the disagreements of the past" for bygones to
be bygones.

"There is a certain amount of anti-American feeling in
France," said Estelle Delie, a 22-year-old student of
political sociology at Paris' Institute of Political
Sciences — known simply as "Sciences Po."

The speech was closed to all but a tiny fraction of the
student body, with most seats going to the U.S. Embassy.
That generated doubts about how well Rice would be able
to reach out to the French people.

In an ultra-chic pocket of the Left Bank, Sciences Po
lacks the international fame of the Sorbonne. But for
many French, the school packs more prestige, being the
path by which many students pass to careers in public

Those who studied there include French President Jacques
Chirac and his interior minister, Dominique de Villepin,
and opposition Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande,
his predecessor Lionel Jospin and the former Prime
Minister Laurent Fabius. Chirac's prime minister,
Jean-Pierre Raffarin, also taught there.

The school also takes in international students — with
1,600 foreigners among its 5,500 students. Former United
Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali is a
former Sciences Po student.

Sciences Po "is basically the Oxford of France," said
Daniel Lee (news - web sites), a history and politics
student from London. He called Rice "an intelligent
woman ... trying to make an effort, unlike Mr. Bush who
has a reputation of not being an internationalist."

Delie said Rice sought "to reach the elite ... to assure
American prestige within the future political elite of

Sciences Po has been used as a forum for other speakers
of note, such as former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
In that case, however, students were given wide access,
with his remarks relayed on huge video screens.

Security was tight, with the street leading to the
school's main entrance blocked and guards at all the
doors. Many students expressed dismay that they had no
access to Rice.

"There is not an enormous amount of people at Sciences
Po who support Bush," said Sebastien Arnoult, 24, a
media student. "But," he added, "the priority is

Rice's speech "is definitely a signal that she is coming
here to repair relations," said Jonathan DeFaveri, 20,
of Atlanta, an exchange student from Boston University.

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