world leaders respond surprisingly to bush

  1. 2,785 Posts.
    Jamie Wilson
    Thursday November 4, 2004
    The Guardian

    Most governments around the world reacted to the news of George Bush's re-election yesterday with a diplomatic straight bat. France, Germany and other European countries pledged to work with the new administration, while there were typically divided views in the Middle East.

    The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said Mr Bush's victory would strengthen the US and benefit their countries.

    Mr Putin hailed Mr Bush as a "predictable partner" and said the American people had not given in to the threats of international terrorists.

    Mr Berlusconi said Mr Bush would "keep up that policy that gives the United States the role of promoting freedom in the world".

    In Germany, where relations with the US were strained by Gerhard Schröder's opposition to the Iraq war, a foreign ministry official said he hoped Mr Bush would seize the chance for a fresh start with Europe, but ruled out Germany sending troops to the Middle East.

    Jacques Chirac, president of France, who led western opposition to the war in Iraq, said that strong transatlantic ties were essential if Paris and Washington were to overcome the challenges they faced.

    "Our cooperation, our joint fight against terrorism and our efforts to promote freedom and democracy must continue to develop in a spirit of dialogue, esteem and mutual respect," he said.

    In Israel the result was effectively welcomed by the government. "There is no doubt that this was a serious chemistry [between Bush and Sharon], and President Bush's friendliness was very great," the foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, said.

    The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, congratulated Mr Bush and called on him to help in the immediate implementation of the roadmap for peace and to support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. An aide said Mr Arafat hoped the second term would be an opportunity to secure peace and "guarantee the just national rights of the Palestinian people".

    Perhaps surprisingly, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, an adviser to President Mohammad Khatami of Iran, said a Bush victory was preferable despite his "wrong policies".

    "By the mistakes he made in the Middle East he has more knowledge about the region than Kerry, who needs time and money to reach Bush's conclusions," Mr Abtahi said.

    Kuwait's information minister, Mohammad Abulhasan, said his government congratulated Mr Bush and hoped he would focus on Middle East stability and an independent Palestinian state.

    A Jordanian government spokeswoman, Asma Khader, said the US could not stay on its present course. "There is a need for a change in US policy towards reactivating the peace process and achieving progress ... that saves bloodshed of innocent victims and ends Israel's heavy-handed policies towards Palestinians".

    The president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, said: "Terrorism has to be rejected in today's world and in this respect George Bush is a very decisive leader who is right, simply right."

    Kjell Magne, the prime minister of Norway, said: "Under Bush, tensions have developed between Europe and the United States. I hope that he will try to build bridges ... and do more to cooperate via international organisations."

    Goeran Persson, prime minister of Sweden, said the narrow result showed the US was divided. He did not expect any significant policy changes.

    Australia's government was upbeat. The foreign minister, Alexander Downer, said: "We've had a very good relationship with [the Bush administration] for the last four years and I'm sure we'll be able to keep building on that over the next four."

    In Indonesia, the Muslim leader Syafii Maarif called a Bush win "a catastrophe", adding: "Bush has made a mess of the world over the last four years."

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