U.S. economy still strong and open: Rice

DAVOS, Switzerland Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:09pm EST

1 of 4. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivers her key-note speech at the opening of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss Alpine resort town of Davos January 23, 2008. Rice offered Iran normal ties if it drops nuclear plans.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sought to soothe investor fears about the U.S. economy on Wednesday, saying it was resilient and sound and that Washington remained open to trade and investment.

In the keynote address at the World Economic Forum in Davos delivered against a backdrop of financial turmoil, Rice made a rare foray into world economics and urged her audience of business leaders to have confidence in the U.S. economy.

"The U.S. economy is resilient, its structure is sound, and its long-term economic fundamentals are healthy.

The United States continues to welcome foreign investment and free trade," she said.

U.S. President George W. Bush had announced an outline of a "meaningful" fiscal growth package that boosted consumer spending and would support business investment this year, Rice said.

"My colleague, (Treasury Secretary) Hank Paulson, is leading our administration's efforts and working closely with the leaders of both parties in Congress to agree on a stimulus package that is swift, robust, broad-based, and temporary."

Rice also said Bush remained committed to getting a deal in the World Trade Organisation's long-delayed negotiations for a global trade deal.

"It is not easy for a U.S. president to advocate free and fair trade at a time of growing economic populism. But President Bush and I remain committed to completing a successful Doha round," she said.

Trade ministers from leading trading nations, including the United States, are due to meet on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum this week to discuss ways of reaching a long-elusive breakthrough in the negotiations.

Without a deal soon, the round, which was launched in 2001, could face years of further delay, trade officials have said.

(Reporting by Sue Pleming, editing by Ralph Boulton)