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Agence France Presse

World Hails Obama's Victory, Urges Change of Tack


A poster of US president-elect Barack Obama as Superman is seen on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, California. After the euphoria of his historic election win Obama got down Thursday to choosing a presidential team that faces a mountain of problems, not least the economic crisis and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (AFP/Gabriel Bouys)

PARIS - World leaders hailed Barack Obama's
triumph in the US presidential election as the dawn of a new era and
called for the global superpower to change the way it does business.

Obama's supporters celebrated around the world, a national holiday was
declared in Kenya -- where his father was born -- and in Sierra Leone,
six newborn babies were even named after the president-elect.

within hours of Obama's victory speech, Russia announced Wednesday it
would be aiming short-range missiles at the US missile shield in
Europe, a sharp reminder of the challenges awaiting the first black US

But nothing could stop the wave of optimism that
spread out from the United States after Obama's triumph over Republican
rival John McCain made him the first African-American to win the White

South Africa's iconic first black leader Nelson Mandela
wrote in a message to Obama: "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 wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead," he added.

President Mwai Kibaki declared a national holiday on Thursday to mark
the victory of Obama, whose late father was from Kenya.

"This is a momentous day not only in the history of the United States of America, but also for us in Kenya," he said.

Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram of congratulations to Obama to hail the "historic occasion."

President Nicolas Sarkozy extended his "warmest congratulations" to the
47-year-old Democratic senator. "By choosing you, the American people
have chosen change, openness and optimism," added Sarkozy.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomed the victory as a historic moment.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd referred to US civil right leader Martin
Luther King's landmark "I have a dream" speech for equality 45 years
ago. "Today what America has done is turn that dream into a reality,"
he said.

World leaders vowed to work with the man elected to succeed US President George W. Bush.

a new historical era, I look forward to ... taking our bilateral
relationship of constructive cooperation to a new level," China's
President Hu Jintao said in a written message.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement: "This is
a time for a renewed commitment between Europe and the United States of

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso also pledged to work
with Obama to strengthen relations, while Indian Premier Manmohan Singh
called it an "extraordinary" victory.

Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev, who was himself elected president in March, called for
"constructive dialogue" in a message to Obama.

Earlier, however,
in his first state-of-the-nation address, he announced that short-range
Iskander missiles would be based in the western territory of
Kaliningrad to "neutralise" US missile defence plans.

With wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan heading White House priorities abroad, there
were also calls to rethink the US "war on terror" launched by Bush
after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The "'war on terror' cannot
be fought in Afghan villages. ... Afghanistan is the victim of
terrorism," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said.

In Iraq, Foreign
Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Obama's election would not lead to a quick
US disengagement from the war-torn country.

"We don't think there
will be change in policy overnight. There won't be quick disengagement
here. A great deal is at stake here," Zebari told AFP.

Israel's outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was certain US-Israeli ties would strengthen under Obama.

relations are a special relationship based on values and common
interest, with tight cooperation," he said in a statement.

King Abdullah II, a key US ally in the troubled Middle East, sent Obama
a cable saying he looked forward to cooperation with Washington to
"resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in line with a two-state

After eight years of tense relations with the Bush
administration, Washington's archfoes called for a new era of relations
under Obama, who has pledged to hold direct talks with US enemies.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, whose country is in a standoff
with the West over its nuclear program, said the result showed that
Americans wanted "basic changes in US foreign and domestic policy."

hope the new US government can fulfill its people's demand to distance
itself from the present statesmen's wrong approaches," he said, the
official IRNA news agency reported.

Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez, a vociferous critic of the Bush administration, called for new
relations "between our countries and with our region, on a basis of
respect of sovereignty, equality and true cooperation."

Foreign Investment Minister Marta Lomas expressed hope that Obama would
ease the four-decade-old embargo on the communist state.

Obama takes some action to ease the embargo, it would be welcomed and
of course it would be of help, but we're prepared for conditions to
remain the same," she said.

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