Condoleezza Rice is hoping to make a fresh start in US diplomacy for George Bush’s second term in office.If her testimony to Capitol Hill is anything to go by, she looks like she willbe an impressive performer. But the new Secretary of State gave no indication that she will be changing direction on foreign policies. “America is guided by the conviction that no nation can build a safer better world alone. Alliance and multilateral institutions can multiply the strength of freedom loving nations. Core convictions will guide my actions. Yet when judging a course of action, I will never forget that the true measure of its worth is its effectiveness,” Ms Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Her nomination was of course largely a formality. But it did give Democrats a chance to put her on the spot over the previous administration’s decisions. In remarks reminiscent of the President’s “axis of evil” speech three years ago, Rice added Belarus, Myanmar and Zimbabwe to America’s list of tyrannical regimes. But she also stressed that the United States will make a greater effort to seek conversations with the rest of the world and not a monologue. Much of the Committee’s questions concentrated on Iraq and whether she could outline an exit strategy. But Rice repeatedly declined to be drawn on when US forces might come home. She said: “I’m really reluctant to put a timetable on that because I think the goal is to get the mission accomplished and that means that the Iraqi’s have to be capable of something before we lessen our own responsibility.” Rice is so close to the President that many have described her as family or his political soulmate. A relationship which could help America realise its visions in the broader Middle East as well as in Russia and China, a country she described as having “common interests with the US but considerable differences on values”.