The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 16-2 to approve Rice as Colin Powell's successor on Wednesday, a decision closely watched by officials in Tehran and Ram Allah.

 

Iranian radio immediately dismissed Rice's "outposts of tyranny" comment in which she accused the Islamic republic of oppressing its own people.

The Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran (VIRI) said Washington had "offered nothing new" in its relations with Tehran.

"Echoing US President George Bush's 'axis of evil' comment, Rice merely reiterated the stance adopted by the American administration over the past three years," the station said.

Nothing new

"Rice expressed concern against Iran's peaceful nuclear activities, threatened to take Iran's case to the UN Security Council and repeated the baseless allegations concerning Iran's support for terrorism.

"Nevertheless ... she could not offer any other alternative. This shows that America does not have many alternatives in order to force Iran to move within the particular framework that follows American policies and safeguards the interests of that country," said VIRI analyst Aziz Allah Kheradmand.

Iran radio also said that the dearth of policy ideas was clear from Washington's decision "not to oppose the European initiative to maintain talks and constructive interaction with Iran".

"This is because America has no other tool at its disposal to deal with Iran," the report concluded.

Palestinian reaction

However, Palestinian National Authority officials speaking on the Voice of Palestine on Wednesday broadly welcomed Rice's proposed appointment and described some of her responses to US Senate questions as "encouraging".

Reporting that Rice had said that there was an opportunity in the Middle East to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a National Authority spokesman told listeners he was confident "she wants to seize this opportunity".

Nabil Abu Rudayna added that the outgoing national security adviser's statements stressed the need for further US intervention and the adoption of measures on the ground to implement the peace roadmap and halt Israeli aggression.