Former American president Ronald Reagan was  honoured in London today as the city unveiled a 10-foot bronze statue of him.

The ceremony at the US Embassy, attended by former US Secretary of State Condoleezza

Rice and the late president's widow Nancy, coincides with US Independence Day celebrations.

Reagan joins the ranks of other important leaders whose statues adorn the streets of London. These included Nelson Mandela, Wellington, Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt, Edith Cavell and


Rice said the collapse of the Soviet Union, which Reagan was heavily involved in, should give encouragement to those seeking greater freedom today in the Middle East and north Africa.

"When we think of how impossible that might have seemed it gives us hope and optimism to face other situations that seem today impossible," she told the audience.

"It gives us hope and optimism to continue to stand for those who are still trapped in tyranny.

"It gives us optimism and will to stand with those who profess faith in our values, who have the courage to act on them and whose irrepressible spirit is playing out throughout the Middle East and beyond."

Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "Ronald Reagan is without question a great American hero; one of America’s

finest sons, and a giant of 20th Century history. You may be sure that the

people of London will take this statue to their hearts."

Ms Rice will give the keynote speech at a gala dinner for 700 people at The

Guildhall later in the day.

She is to explore the special relationship between the US and the UK and the

relevance of Reagan and Margaret Thatcher's ''freedom agenda',


Reagan, the US's 40th president, died in 2004 at the age of 93, having served as US president between

1981 and 1989.

To acknowledge Mr Reagan's contribution to the end of the Cold War, a piece of

the Berlin Wall will be installed in front of the statue.

Lady Thatcher once said he had ''a higher claim than any other leader to have

won the Cold War for liberty and he did it without a shot being fired''.