It was late summer in 1999, and I was in Israel. President Bush was still Governor Bush, and I was traveling as his foreign policy adviser. In a meeting with Ariel Sharon, I met one of his advisersa confident and impressive woman, roughly my age (well, actually a little younger), named Tzipi Livni.
Little did I know how intertwined our lives and work would become. Last May, Tzipi, like me, became the second woman ever to hold her nation's top foreign policy job. Those early months were anything but easy: violence in Gaza, a war in Lebanon, a radical President in Iran. Tzipi's strength to endure, indeed to excel, in what were difficult, often heartbreaking, conditions was a testament to her character. Tzipi and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have the foresight to know that a Palestinian state is in Israel's greatest interest, and that they must pursue the cause of peace with their Arab neighbors. President Bush and I deeply share this goal. And for Tzipi and me, it is now the focus of our work together.
Tzipi has not just been my colleague; she has become my friend. We have sat together for hours debating ideasfreely, openly, even combatively at times. I have learned of her deep pride in her children. We share an abiding respect for our now deceased fathersmine, a successful son of the old segregated American South; hers, a defender of the Jewish homeland in its first days of independence.
Tzipi, 48, is a woman of conviction, intelligence and peace. I deeply respect her. I like being around her. And I know that long after we have both exited the world stage, we'll still be friends.
Rice is U.S. Secretary of State
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