WASHINGTON, DC—Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called developments "encouraging" on the first day of diplomatic talks with representatives from the underwater kingdom of Rubba Dubdub, which were held in the spacious bathtub of Rice's private D.C. residence on Monday.

Rice in Rubba Dubdub.

If successful, the talks could pave the way toward normalized diplomatic relations with the magical country, and may eventually lead to trade liberalization, extradition treaties, cultural exchanges, and "a new era of bathtime fun for all," Rice said.

"My counterpart, [Rubba Dubdub Foreign Minister] Mr. Washcloth, is a forward-thinking diplomat," said a bathrobe-clad Rice after the close of the first day of talks. "He agreed that Rubba Dubdub needs to open new lines of communication with foreign bathers and take cleanliness into the 21st century."

Rice's arrival in Rubba Dubdub was greeted with much fanfare by a ceremonial squadron of bubbles and the kingdom's naval fleet, composed of a small plastic sailboat, a yacht, a tugboat, and a ferryboat. Rice was subsequently received by the rulers of Rubba Dubdub, King Squeaky Beak IV and his morganatic consort, Grand Duchess Soap-On-A-Rope. Earlier fears of civil disruption by scaldist rebels proved unfounded.

In a gesture of goodwill that reportedly pleased Rubba Dubdub diplomats, Rice donned a bubble beard, an indigenous custom of the region.

"I wanted to reassure Rubba Dubdubbers that this administration is solidly pro-suds, fully supports total water immersion, and, despite rumors, is not aligned with the position of the cold-shower lobby," Rice said.

The Secretary Of State, who had been accused of ignoring the area for the past four days, agreed to dispatch much-needed hot water to the region, and freed up a bath brush as a means of mass transit for Rubba Dubdub residents, including Admiral Floaters The Empty Shampoo Bottle, Wind-Up Whale, and Handy, a terry-cloth wash-mitt shaped like a goldfish. A Rice–owned inflatable bath pillow long deemed an eyesore by residents was also removed from the territory.

Representatives from the bathtub-locked country, in turn, signed a friendship treaty which ensured that Rice's skin would become soft, warm, and sweet-smelling whenever within Rubba Dubdub's jurisdiction.

In addition, Rice was able to negotiate a unilateral cease-splash from The Democratic Republic Of Condiknee, a protectorate with connections to Rice's right leg and a longtime aggressor of Rubba Dubdub. Although Rice stopped short of blaming the leg for the March 2006 tsunami that left much of the country and the outlying floor and bathmat areas flooded, she agreed to deploy cleaning forces to the greater Rubba Dubdub region, which includes the Great Porcelain Basin and the Tile Highlands.

The talks came at a crucial time for Rubba Dubdub, which in recent years has endured reduced water temperatures and phosphate and sodium-lauryl-sulfate pollution, resulting in dangerous mildew growth and a visible soap ring. In addition, the region has suffered several sudden and devastating water shortages, which is traced to a unique environmental phenomenon known as the pulled-plug effect (PPE).

Still, several key issues remained unresolved, including the ongoing "pruning" controversy, and the unaccountable disappearance of a close Rice associate, Splash Masterson, a sponge monkey with a loofah tummy-wummy, in May. And, in a move that angered many in the interbathroom community, representatives from the minority population of Sinking Soap Atoll, which has long demanded a floating homeland—preferably a cake of Ivory soap—were shut out of talks.

Although negotiations dragged on longer than expected, Rice dismissed concerns that she was spending too much time in the region, and said that she looked forward to resuming talks on Saturday, just after a long day on her feet in her busy Washington office.

"I hope to have another highly productive session with Mr. Washcloth, Crown Prince Squirty Seahorse, and Senators Non-Slip Adhesive Flower Decals," Rice said.