US has no desire to be world's jailer: Rice

By saying this, the US Secy of State sought to allay European concern over Washington's 'war on terror'.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 14:10 IST

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sought to allay European concern over Washington's "war on terror" by saying that the US had "no desire to be the world's jailer."

Speaking to reporters during a private visit to Blackburn, in northwest Britain, Rice acknowledged that the US made "mistakes" in Iraq. "I know we have made tactical errors, thousands of them I am sure."

As she arrived in Liverpool later, some 2,000 anti-war protestors gathered at the foot of the city's Catholic Cathedral, holding aloft red balloons and singing John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance".

Rice said the US was prepared have a "free exchange of opinions" with its allies, especially Britain, over the issue of how to safeguard human rights in the fight against terror.

But ultimately, she believed, the US would be judged on whether it had made the right "strategic" foreign policy decisions.

"We do not tolerate either at home or abroad engagements in acts of torture. We also have no desire to be the world's jailer. We want the terrorists that have been captured to stand trial for their crimes," said Rice.

Her remarks came as hundreds of protestors, including schoolchildren and their parents, lined the streets of Blackburn, shouting "Condoleezza Rice go home."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who is the MP of Blackburn, had invited her to the city, which has a large Muslim population. The visit is in return for a trip by Straw to Rice's home city of Birmingham, Alabama, last year.

Rice said she enjoyed visiting the north-western region of Britain, north of Liverpool, "where the Industrial Revolution was born."

But she avoided facing the youthful protestors as she took a side entrance to visit a local secondary school. Inside, she was reported to have had a "lively discussion" with pupils about the Iraq war.

Parents protesting outside Pleckgate High School said they faced a dilemma about sending their children to school on Friday.

A mother of five, Rabiya Adam said she did not want her children to be "preached at by Ms Rice," adding: "We are opposed to the visit because Condoleeza Rice is not welcome in our home town. She was behind all the killings in Iraq."

A planned visit to a mosque in Blackburn was cancelled ahead of the visit after threatened protests.

First Published: Apr 01, 2006 11:50 IST