Condoleezza Rice talks technology

U.S. Secretary of State discusses anything but the Iraq war

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was happy to talk about technology, the environment, and alternative energy sources during a brief few minutes with the press in Silicon Valley on Thursday. But the Iraq war was off-limits.

Rice made a few stops in northern California, checking out an electric car built by Tesla Motors and then meeting with such executives such Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and Salesforce.com Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff at the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto, Calif. She and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer were hosted by TechNet, which features a political network of CEOs promoting innovation.

"We are here because we want as foreign ministers to understand a little bit better what is going on in some of the most exciting areas of technology and development," Rice said. Technology will affect how business is conducted during the next several years, Rice said.

A former provost at nearby Stanford University, Rice stressed the issues of global competitiveness, seeking alternative fuel sources, and addressing the problems of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

But as the 11-minute press access portion of the meeting was ending, she declined to respond to a reporter's request to talk about the Iraq war spending bill.

Downer, meanwhile, said it had been a "fascinating morning." He added he was impressed with the relationship between universities like Stanford and the private sector. "The massive investment in universities here has been a tremendous boon to the economy," said Downer.

Australia, he said, has benefited from technology. "The information and communications technology revolution has been a great thing for us," Downer said. "It's drawn our country much more into the mainstream of the world than it would have been before the advent of that technology."

Consumers' concerns drive the market, and they are interested in clean air and environmental issues, Downer said.

"If these environmental problems are going to be solved, they're not just going to be solved by government fiat," and new laws, he said. "They're going to be solved by technology," Downer said.

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