By Victoria Cavaliere NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pulled out of delivering the commencement speech at Rutgers University in New Jersey on Saturday, following a months-long protest by students and faculty over her role in the Iraq war. Rice was the face of foreign policy under President George W. Bush, a Republican, serving as national security advisor from 2001 to 2005, and later as secretary of state. She was a leading hawk in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war. In her statement, Rice said her role in the festivities had become a "distraction".
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday asked his US counterpart John Kerry to press Ukraine to halt its military operation in the east of the ex-Soviet country, his ministry said. "The minister called on the United States to use all of its influence to force the Kiev regime, which it looks out after and which has declared a war against its own people, to immediately halt military operations in the southeast, pull back its troops and free protesters," the foreign ministry said. And Lavrov, who also spoke with his Swiss counterpart and current OSCE chairman Didier Burkhalter, pushed for a greater OSCE role in mediating the crisis in Ukraine, the ministry said.