I don't think it's productive to speculate about what may transpire. As I said, and the president has said on a number of occasions, our aim is to use all of the elements at our disposal, including direct diplomacy, to offer Iran a path away from an illicit nuclear weapons program.
But obviously if that path is not chosen, we have not ruled out any options.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But are you confident that Israel will not strike without U.S. consent?
RICE: George, as I've said, I will not speculate about what the U.S. or others might do. At this stage our focus is on steering Iran to the extent we possibly can towards a different course.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What kind of contact have you had with your Iranian counterpart at the U.N.?
RICE: I work in an environment where there are 191 other member states. And I actually have encountered on a couple of occasions my Iranian counterpart in the course of my work up at the U.N.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't intentionally avoid him in any way, as previous ambassadors haven't either, in fact Ambassador Negroponte had what he considered a useful relationship with his Iranian counterpart.
RICE: No. I -- we've run into each other on a couple of occasions and I've had an opportunity to have some brief exchanges.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But no negotiations yet?
RICE: No negotiations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On Afghanistan and Pakistan, the president spoke out yesterday against this new law in Afghanistan which -- where Shiite women are subject to Sharia, Muslim law. He said it was abhorrent. And Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said he's going to review it.
At the same time, human rights activists have been circulating a video, and I just want to show a brief part of it, because it's horrific, of a Pakistani woman being beaten by the Taliban in the northwest part of Pakistan, of Swat, Pakistan that's now controlled by the Taliban.
So far the United States has not responded to requests for comment on this incident, why not?
RICE: George, I think obviously we'd be very, very concerned at any instance of abuse of human rights. And this would appear to be such an instance. The president spoke out very forcefully about the -- our concern about the law that has passed in Afghanistan.
And whether we're talking about Pakistan or Afghanistan or any other country in the world, the United States is very firm in insisting that human rights must be respected universally, and this sort of behavior would be inconsistent with that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the concern here, is that the part of Pakistan where the government has signed peace agreement, basically the Taliban, and the concern is that this is giving them a safe haven, even though they're receiving billions of dollars of U.S. aid.
RICE: Pakistan is as -- has the most immediate stake in preventing the spread of extremism within its own territory. The actions of al Qaeda and the Taliban and their allies threaten Pakistan on a daily basis, even as they threaten us as well.
So our aim in the new policy that the president has unveiled which got unanimous support from all of our NATO partners was embraced and endorsed earlier this week in The Hague by more than 80 countries, is focused on supporting both Afghanistan and Pakistan in their efforts to root out this sort of extremism.