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The World Welcomes Obama's Victory

CBSNews.com is compiling a constantly-updated log of reaction from leaders and citizens of countries around the world, where American Election 2008 has captured the eyes, ears and imaginations of millions.

FRANCE:

The French have made no secret of the fact that they wanted to see real change in the White House. Now, most believe transatlantic relations will improve, reports CBS News' Elaine Cobbe. "With the world in turmoil and doubt, the American people, faithful to the values that have always defined America's identity, have expressed with force their faith in progress and the future," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a congratulatory letter to Obama. "At a time when we must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe and beyond."

France's black junior minister for human rights Rama Yade, who is black, said, "This is the fall of the Berlin Wall times ten. America is re-becoming a New World. … On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes."

Expats in Paris thronged American bars from early Tuesday evening. Most went straight from work, keen to get a good seat and prepared for a long night. Irish bars unfurled the giant screens usually reserved for sporting events and became election HQs, and cell phones buzzed all night as the election pub crawl continued. In all the throngs, it was hard to find a Republican voice. Obama was the face on T-shirts everywhere.

Many of the young expats, in particular, say they're tired of apologizing for their nationality. Now, they say, they can hold their heads with pride and say "I'm American".

UNITED KINGDOM:

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was looking forward to working with the new U.S. President. "This is a moment that will live in history, as long as history books are written," he said. "I've talked to Senator Obama on many occasions and I know that he is a true friend of Britain, and I know that the values we share in common and the policies on which we can work together will enable us as two countries to come through these difficult economic times and build a safer and more secure society for the future."

The new editions of the papers are on the streets, and CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar says they are embracing the idea of historic change. The Independent: Dignified, full page color photo of a smiling Obama. Headline: "Mr. President."

SPAIN:

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said, "President Obama will have in Spain and its government a friend and a loyal ally. I want us to work together in such issues where the Spanish experience is wider and where the shared interests will make us closer."

GERMANY:

"America is electing a new president, but for the Germans, for the Europeans, it is electing the next world leader," said Alexander Rahr, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations.

In Berlin, where Obama "soared like a rock star" in front of hundreds of thousands of people this summer, poll after poll showed that if they had a vote, Germans would have overwhelmingly chosen him. "Finally, a victory over racism in the whole world. I hope it's going to be the end of racism," said one man. And over and over again, people spoke of hope. "I hope that all the dreams the people have now are coming true. So let's keep fingers crossed that he will be able to fulfill what America, but also the whole world, is expecting from him."

POLAND:

Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski spoke of "a new America with a new credit of trust in the world."

RUSSIA:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a congratulatory telegram, reports CBS News Moscow bureau chief Svetlana Berdnikova. "I expect to develop a constructive dialogue with you on the basis of confidence and respect for each other's interests," he said.

He said Russia is not inherently anti-American but suggested it is up to the United States to take the initiative in improving ties. Medvedev said Russia hopes that Obama's administration will "make a choice in favor of full-fledged relations with Russia."

At the same time, however, Medvedev promised to place missiles on his European borders if U.S. plans for an anti-missile system go ahead, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips.

Berdnikova reports Russia's other political entities were more generous. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov welcomed Obama's win. "His election is a choice in favor of a younger and more modern America, which is now completely disappointed in George W. Bush's policy … The Americans also cannot forgive the Republicans two lengthy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Denis Bilunov, executive director of the United Civil Front, told Russia's Interfax news agency that Obama's election will result in considerable changes in the attitude to the U.S. among third world countries. "A black president is a new unusual tendency. All old propaganda clichés about America are now history." If the new U.S. administration criticizes Russia on democracy and human rights issues, "it won't be based on the same ideology as it would if McCain had won," he said.

AFGHANISTAN:

On Wednesday came news from the southern province of Kandahar that U.S. warplanes bombed a wedding party on Monday afternoon, killing 37 people (including 23 children and 10 women).

CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar reports Afghan President Hamid Karzai has demanded that President-elect Obama act immediately to prevent civilian casualties.

"My first demand from the newly-elected President of America when he takes office is to end the civilian casualities in Afghanistan and take the war to the safe havens and training comps of terrorism," Karzai said.

That's a change from the warm welcome offered by Karzai just hours ago:

"The American people have taken themselves, and the rest of the world into a new era, the era where race, color and ethnicity will also disappear as a factor in politics in the rest of the world."
Obama has not been so polite about Karzai. During the campaign he criticized the Afghan leader's failure to tackle corruption, the growing trade in illegal opium, and the ineffectiveness of his government.

President Obama will also have to make some decisions about the U.S. troop posture in Afghanistan. Gen. David Petraeus, chief of U.S. Central Command, is arguing for an Iraqi-like surge to combat increasingly effective Taliban fighters.

CUBA:

There's still no official reaction in Cuba to last night's election of Barack Obama, writes CBS's Portia Siegelbaum in Havana. But ordinary Cubans are asking: Will the new President lift the U.S. economic and trade embargo on the island? (He can't, it's up to Congress to do that.) Will he loosen the restrictions on travel to and from the U.S. so that they can see relatives who have immigrated? And will he lift the ceiling imposed in 2004 on how much money family members living in South Florida or elsewhere in the United States can send home? They are hopeful that he will do all these things and more.

Expectations have been running high ever since Obama became the Democratic Party candidate. The Cuban population, predominately young, Black or mixed race (like Obama), identify with him. People would have liked to watch the round-the-clock coverage available in many countries around the world. But except for hotel workers with access to CNN in Spanish and English or those with illegal satellite dishes, Cubans had to wait for the State-run media to announce Obama's victory, with little of the excitement heard elsewhere. Even this morning the Cuban Communist Party daily Granma ran only an analysis of the campaign written before the polls closed by Ramon Sanchez Parodi, a former head of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, Cuba's lone diplomatic outpost in the United States.

In a blog published yesterday former Cuban President Fidel Castro stopped short of endorsing Obama but did praise him as being "surely more clever, better educated and calm than his Republican adversary … He has well articulated ideas" and his election would reduce the danger of war and "increase the peoples' opportunities to progress" that a McCain victory would hamper.

In hushed voices those watching with us at CBS News' Havana office asked the really big question: "Is there really a chance he might meet with Raul [Castro]?"

During the campaign Obama expressed a willingness to sit down with the U.S.'s enemies, including the heads of Iran and Cuba, with whom Washington broke relations nearly fifty years ago. In several speeches over the past two years the Cuban President has held out an olive branch, saying Havana was willing to sit down with the new U.S. Administration on basis of equality and mutual respect.


IRAQ:

The Troops: Breakfasting this morning with American soldiers of the 3rd and 4th infantry divisions at Forward Operating Base Falcon in south Baghdad, the feeling CBS News Baghdad bureau chief Larry Doyle got was overwhelmingly: "It's the economy, stupid." A year ago the chatter would certainly have been about how the war was going. Today, almost to a man and woman, they said economic issues were their main concern. Military rules don't allow them to go too deeply into politics while in uniform, and we weren't allowed to ask for whom they voted but, but it didn't take an Einstein to dissect their comments to get the drift that Obama's win was more popular among the enlisted folks than the officers.

The Iraqis: In a place where the American presidency should mean plenty, it was pretty much just another day. Iraqi reaction to Barack Obama's victory appears somewhat muted. The government spokesman issued a short statement of congratulations which also said Baghdad looks forward to working with the president-elect to achieve security and stability. Equally low-key was the Foreign Minister, saying he didn't foresee "hasty" changes in U.S. policy. "Wait-and-see" appears a fair summation of official comment.

On TV, there is certainly no excess of coverage. No special reports, no flashy graphics, no breathless pundits. Iraqis in the streets of Baghdad were really wait-and-see in their attitudes. A lot of them seemed to welcome the change, but weren't really sure what this would mean to them. We came away with the impression that there was a lot of weariness after five-and-a-half years of war and that change just for change's sake was okay by them. Oddly, a great many thought, "election yesterday, president today." Very few understood they won't feel even a breeze of change until mid-January.

JERUSALEM:

Palestinian Hopes, Israeli Fears: Both Israeli and Palestinian officials congratulated Barack Obama on his election victory, but CBS News correspondent Robert Berger reports their public comments were noticeably different.

"Israel expects the close strategic cooperation with the new administration, president and Congress will continue along with the continued strengthening of the special and unshakeable relationship between the two countries," said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

"We hope the president-elect ... would continue the U.S. engagement in the peace process without delay," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "We hope the two-state vision would be transferred from a vision to a realistic track immediately."

The Palestinians clearly welcome Obama's election more than Israel. They felt the Bush administration was far too pro-Israel and only began pushing for Palestinian statehood when it was too late. Of course, there are many skeptics among the Palestinians, and Arabs at large, who figure that any U.S. Congress and administration will be too pro-Israel to deliver Mideast peace.

Israel's biggest fear is Obama's intention to negotiate with Iran. Many Israelis believe Iran will use those talks to buy time until one day it tests an atomic bomb. As right-wing parliamentarian Arieh Eldad put it: "Israel should know that from now on it is facing the Iranian nuclear threat on its own because Obama wants to talk to Iran and has already accepted a nuclear Iran." That raises the prospect of an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

PAKISTAN:

Pakistan's involvement in the U.S.-led war on terror has split the country more than any other policy pursued in its 61-year history, reports CBS News' Farhan Bokhari. "At least we see the end of Bush and that means an end to Bushism, or what President Bush represented as the ultimate example of being hawkish," said college student Saeed Malik as he watched the results.

Never before has a U.S. election been followed in Pakistan as closely. More than two months after Bush's close ally President Musharraf was forced to resign, many Pakistanis see Bush's departure as the end of an era. "Maybe we can now see some new way to reinterpret how we are going to fight this war on terror which has so split our country" said Umar Jan, a fruit seller in Lahore's upper class Liberty market.

For top Pakistani officials who immediately welcomed the Obama victory and formally offered to work with a new U.S. administration, the choice for the future is far from easy. For the Obama administration, too, a policy towards Pakistan will essentially mean walking a very fine line between keeping a key ally on board to continue its crucial support in the war in Afghanistan, while firmly working to cut off any support to al Qaeda or the Taliban operating from Pakistani soil.

The Pakistanis have been angered by U.S. missile strikes in the Afghan-Pakistan border area, and the threat of new ground incursions. Yesterday, Pakistan's Prime Minister had a rather more pointed message, delivered to Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command: "If he doesn't respect the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan, and if he doesn't change his policies towards Pakistan, anti-America and anti-West sentiments will be there."

Is there another way to deal with militancy? "Yes, there is," answered Usman Nazeer, a college teacher. "You have to talk to these militants. You have to demonstrate to them that whoever lays down their arms can be brought into the mainstream. You can't just kill, kill, kill."

JIHADI BLOGOSPHERE / THE INTERNET:

What The Extremists Are Saying? There has been no reaction yet to Obama's victory from any of the more prominent extremist Muslim leaders, reports CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, but the radical blogosphere is hoping for a statement soon from al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

On the most influential Islamist Web sites over the past few weeks, discussion of the U.S. election has been sporadic and unsophisticated. The reaction to Obama's win was similarly crude, including:

The simply preposterous: Blogger "Al-Hakim" wrote on the well-known Alhesbah site that, "America elected Obama because al Qaeda decided so, the same way Bush was elected in 2004 - also because al Qaeda had decided so."

The skeptical: Obama is unlikely to bring about any real change, wrote one blogger on the "Nasr Lil Islam" (Victory For Islam) site. "Don't get too excited. Obama is nothing but a pair of "black gloves" that the Americans will use to strike against Muslims."

The Disappointed: A blogger calling himself "Big problem2" on the "Ansar al-Mujahideen" (Supporters of the Mujahideen) chat room on Paltalk said, "Sadly, Obama won. I really hoped he'd lose. He's much smarter than McCain and we wanted the dumb guy. Anyway. It's god's will and whatever God decides must happen. Another contributor questioned the post, asking why "Big Problem2" had been rooting for McCain. "Obama is smart. He will know how to pull America out of the Iraqi quagmire," came the response.

Finally - a glimmer of conciliation: One blogger, going by the name "Ansar Allah," predicted that Obama's win could wind down the ideological war. "Now that Obama has won the vote" he wrote, "I think it's time to declare a truce."

IRAN:

Iran is heralding the result of the U.S. elections as a defeat of President Bush's policies. CBS News' Leily Lankarani reports that Dr. Haddad Adel, the former speaker of Parliament (and now the head of Parliamentary Committee for Culture), said, "Obama entered the race with this slogan, 'We need Change,' and his victory is the admission of the American people about the defeat of Bush's policies in the world. The president of the U.S. has to retreat from Bush's policies which would be to the benefit of the Americans and people around the world."

Iran's Fars news agency, which is close to the country's conservatives, announced Obama's victory with this headline: "The Era of Bush is Over." Tellingly, it did not mention Obama.

Though he wasn't named, Iran's military also issued a warning for America's next leader (and Mr. Bush - for a couple more months). The Iranian Armed Forces Headquarters released a statement: "Recently it has been noticed that the U.S. Army Helicopters fly close to borders of Iraq with Islamic Republic of Iran and because of the twisting border lines there is danger of violation of the borders of the I.R.I. Therefore, I.R.I. Border Defence Forces would reply to any violation." The warning ends with this sentence: "They are warned to change the route of their helicopters to a safe distance to avoid any danger of ambiguities."

Head of the Cultural and Publicity office of the Armed Forces, Masoud Jazaeri, told Iranian media, "I hope that the new U.S. President acts more rationally and, instead of relying on viciousness and atrocity, looks for peaceful ways."

SOUTH AFRICA:

The following is the entire body of a letter sent from iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela to Obama:

"Dear Senator Obama,
"We join people in your country and around the world in congratulating you on becoming the President-Elect of the United States. 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. We note and applaud your commitment to supporting the cause of peace and security around the world. We trust that you will also make it the mission of your Presidency to combat the scourge of poverty and disease everywhere. We wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead. We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all.
"Sincerely, N R Mandela"
KENYA:

Obama's relatives, on his father's side, came streaming out of their house to cheer as Senator McCain conceded. "We will see Obama in the White House," they sang. "We are going to the White House." Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki declared Thursday a public holiday so that Kenyans can celebrate "the historic achievement by Senator Obama and our country."

Freelance journalist Robert Crilly spent the night in the village of Kogelo, in rural western Kenya, watching the election coverage on two TVs powered by generators with Obama's relatives, including the President-elect's half-brother, Abongo Malik Obama. For the folks in Kogelo, it wasn't a matter of whether Obama would win, just when they could start celebrating. Now they've got their own hopes pinned to the future American leader.

To hear audio of Crilly speaking to CBS News from Kogelo, . To read his article in The Times newspaper, click here.

While many at the grassroots level believe Kenya will benefit from Obama's win, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been quick to warn that while people may come here out of curiosity, to see Obama's Kenyan roots, that to expect vast amounts of investment, aid or just cash is not realistic, reports CBS News's Katherine Arms.

As voices cheered and kids rejoiced, in one Nairobi suburb Arms saw the grim reality of crime in this region hit with a thud. "As I dropped my child off at primary school, I was in the classroom when my driver, monitoring local radio stations for me, sent me a text message saying President Kibaki had declared Thursday a public holiday. I told the kids in the class who cheered. We all heard cracking noises coming from the road and thought fireworks were going off. Seconds later my driver called. I stepped out of the classroom to answer and he said, "Katherine, don't come out. There is a shootout out here. A carjacking." I hung up and ran toward the school office telling people to stay put. I found the headmaster and blurted out there was a carjacking at the gate ... everyone moved fast. Within seconds the headmaster and his assistant alerted all of the children and parents to go into classrooms. The headmaster and I and several others moved to the gate to check on what had happened. My driver had witnessed the shootout and had seen the suspects get away. An innocent driver was shot dead, the carjackers took off with their stolen vehicle. Another day in Nairobi... one that was meant to be so joyous."