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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dear world, we're sorry we've been insane for eight years

Sent to me by Deeds (From the Al Jazeera news agency):
Obama's victory was celebrated around the world, and not just by Americans [AFP]Barack Obama: [To] all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world - our stories are singular but our destiny is shared. A new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, congratulated Obama on his US election victory, saying it took the world into a "new era".

Iraq

Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, said Washington would not adopt a "quick disengagement" policy with Baghdad under the presidency of Barack Obama as a "great deal is at stake here".

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Zebari said: "I think it [Obama's election] was a major, major change ... although as far as Iraq is concerned I don't believe there will be any changes overnight. And there won't be any immediate disengagement because a great deal is at stake for everybody.

"I don't think there is much difference between the Iraqi government position and President-elect Obama's. He is contemplating withdrawing US forces within 16 months. We may have some difficulties with that time-line, but we also, in the status of forces agreement, set the date of 2011 as the date for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. So really the differences are not very wide."

Pakistan

Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's prime minister, congratulated Obama on his victory, saying he hoped the Democrat would promote "peace and stability" in the region around Afghanistan.

"I hope that under your dynamic leadership, [the] United States will continue to be a source of global peace and new ideas for humanity," he said in a statement, directed at Obama.

"I look forward to more opportunities to discuss ways to further strengthen Pakistan-US relations and to promote peace and stability in our region and beyond."

Obama has riled Islamabad in the past, pledging that the US under his leadership would "take out" al-Qaeda and Taliban bases in Pakistan.

Palestinian Territories

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, congratulated Obama and urged him to speed up efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

"President Abbas congratulates US president-elect Barack Obama in his name and in the name of the Palestinian people and hopes he will speed up efforts to achieve peace, particularly since a resolution of the Palestinian problem and the Israeli-Arab conflict is key to world peace," Nabil Abu Rudeina, Abbas's spokesman, said.

"President Abbas hopes the new administration will continue to make the peace efforts one of its top priorities."

Meanwhile, Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, urged Obama to learn from the "mistakes" of previous US administrations in dealing with the Muslim and Arab worlds.

"He must learn from the mistakes of the previous administrations, including that of Bush which has destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine," said Fawzi Barhum, a Hamas spokesman.

"He must improve US ties with the rest of the world rather than wave the big American stick.

"We want him to support the Palestinian cause or at least not to be biased towards the Israeli occupation. We have no problem establishing normal relations with the United States to explain our just cause."

Ahmed Youssef, a Hamas senior political member, hailed the vote as historic.

"We [Hamas] do believe that if America's political equilibrium is to be restored, this political election should be the turning point.

We hope that Obama will address the Palestinian issue in a fair and honest way. The Palestinian question is the mother of all issues in the region – it concerns 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world.

"During the political campaign in the US, people used a lot of rhetoric … Obama said a lot of things to please the Jewish community, looking for their votes and money. We understand that. But all that rhetoric will be changed because looking at the list of Obama's advisers, I believe that they have a better understanding of the conflict in the region."

Israel

Israeli-US relations face "a bright future", Ygal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry, said in reaction to Obama's election to the White House.

"Israelis congratulate the two great friends of Israel, John McCain for his great campaign, Barack Obama for his historic victory.

"We are certain that Israeli-American friendship faces a bright future."

Tzipi Livni, leader of the ruling Kadima party, recalled Obama's visit to Israel in July and said that "the people of Israel felt he [Obama] is a man who is deeply committed to Israel's security and peace".

"Israel hopes to pursue close strategic cooperation with the new administration and the new US president, and hopes to further tighten the unshakeable ties between our two countries," she said.

Iran

Iran's official news agency quoted a leading politician as saying that Obama's election win was a rejection of the policies of George Bush, the current US president.

"Obama's victory is... evidence that Bush's policies have failed," Gholam Ali Haddad Adel said, according to IRNA.

"Americans have no option but to change their policies to save themselves from the quagmire Bush has created for them."

The government daily newspaper Iran said in an editorial on Wednesday that McCain's failure to take the presidency lay with Bush.

"Defeat for the Republicans is the price they pay for Bush's strategic and tactical blunders," the newspaper said.

Mohammad Hasan Aboutorabi-Fard, Iran's deputy parliament speaker, called on Obama to make good on his promises to bring change.

"Obama is expected to learn from Bush's failed policies and correct America's wrong policies in the Middle East," IRNA quoted him as saying.

Syria


Mohsen Bilal, Syria's information minister, said on Wednesday that Damascus hopes Obama's election will lead to changes in US foreign policies in the Middle East and boost the prospect of regional peace.

Bilal said he hoped Obama's win "will help change US policy from one of wars and embargos to one of diplomacy and dialogue," the Syrian news agency SANA reported.

China

Hu Jintao, China's president, congratulated Obama on his victory in the US presidential poll, saying a closer relationship btween the two nations would be "for the benefit of Chinese and American people, and people around the world".

"In a new historical era, I look forward to ... taking our bilateral relationship of constructive co-operation to a new level," Hu said in a written message, according to a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry's website.

Wen Jiabao, China's prime minister, also congratulated Obama, while Xi Jinping, the vice-president, sent a message of congratulations to Joe Biden, Obama's running mate and America's next vice-president.

Britain

Gordon Brown, the UK's prime minister, congratulated Obama, hailing his "energising politics ... his progressive values and his vision for the future".

"I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Barack Obama on winning the presidency of the United States," he said in a statement.

"The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is vital to our prosperity and security ... Barack Obama ran an inspirational campaign, energising politics with his progressive values and his vision for the future."

India

India's ruling Congress party hailed Obama's victory, saying his "youthful energy" was in tune with the energy of emerging India.

"Obama represents youthful energy, exuberant dynamism and a forward-looking progressive mindset which is also the spirit animating India," Abhishek Manu Singhvi, spokesman for India's Congress party, said.

France

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, congratulated Obama on a "brilliant victory".

"I give you my warmest congratulations and, through me, those of all French people," Sarkozy told the Democratic candidate in a letter made public by the French presidency.

"Your brilliant victory rewards a tireless commitment to serve the American people. It also crowns an exceptional campaign whose inspiration and exaltation have proved to the entire world the vitality of American democracy. By choosing you, the American people have chosen change, openness and optimism," he wrote.

"At a time when all of us must face huge challenges together, your election raises great hope in France, in Europe and elsewhere in the world."

The European Union

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Comimission, applauded Obama's victory, with Barroso calling for a "new deal".

"This is a time for a renewed commitment between Europe and the United States of America," Barroso said in a statement. "We need to change the current crisis into a new opportunity. We need a new deal for a new world."

"I sincerely hope that with the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with Europe to drive this new deal. For the benefit of our societies, for the benefit of the world."

South Africa

Kgalema Motlanthe, South Africa's president, congratulated Obama on his presidential victory, saying Africa "stood proud" and looked forward to a fruitful working relationship.

"Your election ... carries with it hope for millions of your countrymen and women as much as it is for millions of people of ... African descent both in the continent of Africa as well as those in the diaspora," he said.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black leader, also congratualted Obama, saying that Obama's election as US president showed that anybody could dream to change the world.

"Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place," Mandela wrote in a letter to Obama.

The 90-year-old Mandela applauded Obama's commitment to support global peace and said he trusted that combatting poverty and disease would become the mission of Obama's presidency.

"We wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead," said Mandela.

"We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream [of] making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all."

Sudan

Khartoum expressed hope that Obama's election win would mean "real change" for the country's strained relations with the US - America has branded Sundan as a "state sponsor of terrorism".

"The result of the election is a purely domestic affair, but certainly the United States, being the only big power in the world, it affects almost everything in other countries," said Ali al-Sadiq, a spokesman for Sudan's foreign ministry.

"We would hope that the slogan of president Obama - 'change' - would be reflected in the foreign policy in the United States, especially towards Sudan and oppressed countries, the Palestinians, the Iraqis and the Somalis.

"We would like to see some real change between Sudan and the United States."

Somalia

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the president of transitional Somali government, voiced hope that Obama would help end conflict in the world.

"I am congratulating Barack Obama for his election as the president of United States of America," Yusuf said in a statement released by his spokesman.

"I am hopeful that he will help end major crises in the world, particulary the endless conflict in my country Somalia. This was an historic election in which a proper leader was elected. This is a great moment for America and Africa."

Japan

Taro Aso, the Japanese prime minister, offered his "heartfelt congratulations" to Obama, pledging to work with the new leader to strengthen relations.

"I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Senator Obama on his election as President of United States of America," Aso said in a statement.

"I will strive to further strengthen the Japan-US alliance and to resolve various challenges the international community faces when addressing issues such as the international economy, terrorism and the environment."

The Philippines

Gloria Arroyo, the Philippines' president, congratulated Barack Obama for winning the US presidential election.

"We wish to express our profound congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama for his historical and stellar win as the 44th president of the United States," Lorelei Fajardo, a spokesman for Arroyo, said in a statement.

"His call for change opened a new phase in American politics, sparking hope and inspiration not only for the American people but the citizens of the world.

"America has always been the bastion of democracy and the world has always looked to the USA for direction. Obama has promised change and the American people and the world await these changes. We look forward to greater co-operation between the USA and the Philippines, the Democrats have always been good allies."

Australia

Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister, praised Obama's victory saying it was a testament to the strength of the US democratic system and was a message of hope not just for the United States but for the whole world.

"Twenty-five years ago Martin Luther King [the US civil right activist] had a dream of an America where men and women would be judged not on the colour of their skin but on the content of their character," Rudd told said.

"Today what America has done is turn that dream into a reality. A world which is in many respects fearful for its future."

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