Rice Says U.S. Policies Need to Be 'Better Understood'

President Bush will be at the United Nations today to give a high-stakes speech trying to persuade world leaders to embrace his vision for the Middle East.

On "Good Morning America," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today that the speech would be a chance for the administration's policies to be "better understood."

"The president will make a speech today that is about a hopeful Middle East in which people are free and have liberty and prosperity," Rice said. "But I also find that, while people may not always agree with our policies, they really love the United States."

The president has a challenge ahead of him. A recent poll by the Pew Organization found that America's global image had slipped in the last year.

Last week, former Secretary of State Colin Powell sided against the president's policy on treatment of suspected terror detainees.

"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis for our war against terrorism," Powell said.

Rice also defended the president's policy on detainee treatment, saying that the United States needs every legal means to interrogate terror suspects.

"Guantanamo is a place where dangerous people are kept so they can't go back on the battlefield and kill innocent people," Rice said.

Break With Powell

Rice said that the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib had been dealt with by the administration.

"Something like Abu Ghraib can simply not be explained away. It was a terrible stain. But democracies make mistakes. They then deal with them. The people involved in Abu Ghraib have been punished."

As for her predecessor's public break with the administration's policies, Rice said, "Colin and I are friends, but I disagree with him."

After a recent trip to Iraq, Secretary General of the U.N. Kofi Annan said there was great risk of an all-out civil war there.

Rice, however, remains optimistic about the country's progress.

"I was just with Iraqi leaders yesterday [Monday]," she said. "They were there to talk about their plans for a unified Iraq where Kurds and Shia and Sunni can live together. They were there to talk about their plans to rebuild Iraq into a great society."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to be at the United Nations today when Bush addresses the assembly.

While it seems unlikely the two leaders will meet today, Rice said that the administration was ready to talk with Iran as soon as it agreed to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.

"We have said that, if Iran is prepared to suspend that, we're prepared for the first time in decades to sit down across the table from the Iranians and talk about ending their nuclear ambitions and providing a path for Iran's entry into the international system," Rice said.