World Leaders Congratulate Bush

As many of them had done once before just weeks ago, the nations of the world sent their congratulations to the new president-elect.

More than a month after Election Day, world leaders seemed ready, even eager, to work with President-elect George W. Bush. Or maybe they were just as relieved as Americans that the long legal battle was finally over.

“My warmest congratulations on your victory in the presidential election,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. “I know that together we will strengthen still further the special friendship between Britain and the United States.”

On election night, many nations sent out congratulatory messages to Bush only to realize that the contest was far from over (see related story). Some nations even retracted their congratulations.

That will not be necessary this time.

“It was a long and agonizing wait for you. I’m very glad it is finally settled,” said Blair.

Bush a Cherished Name in Germany

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder hurriedly sent his congratulations.

In a statement released in the middle of the night in Germany, Schroeder said the Bush name was popular and cherished in Germany because of the role his father George Bush had played in helping East and West Germany reunite in 1990.

“I wish you good fortune and success in your office as president of the United States,” Schroeder said. “The friendship between Germany and the United States is on a firm foundation. The decisive role that the United States played under the leadership of your father in helping reunite Germany is deeply embedded in the consciousness of all Germans.”

Despite early opposition from some European countries such as Britain and France, the United States during George Bush’s presidency was an immediate and enthusiastic supporter of West German efforts to reunite Germany following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.

In Denmark, Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen said he was satisfied with Bush’s commitment to the NATO alliance and the U.S. ability “to step in with the needed necessary means when there are international crises.”

Tough Crowd

But not all the messages from abroad were warm and fuzzy. The Mirror of London ran a photograph of the Earth as seen from space on its cover, with an arrow pointing to the United Kingdom.

“Congrats on becoming the president... P.S.: We are here,” it said.

“Bush, who’s been abroad only twice — both times to Mexico, is now the most powerful man in the world,” lamented the mass-circulation tabloid.

In Sydney, The Australian newspaper said the protracted race had no winner, only losers.

In a front-page editorial, the Sydney Morning Herald said: “There will be American-style pageantry, and grand speeches about the best democracy in the world. But the myths have gone. The masks are off. The people have seen the underbelly of their politics, and they know.”

From Asia, With Love

Led by China and Japan, Asian nations congratulated Bush and pledged to work with him.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin offered “warm congratulations” to Bush, although the prospect of a Bush presidency has caused concern in Beijing because of his support for arch-rival Taiwan.

“I’m willing to make joint efforts with you during your presidency, on the basis of the Three Joint Communiques, to push the Sino-U.S. relationship to develop steadily and smoothly,” Jiang said in message to Bush, Chinese television reported.

Bush’s father, former President George Bush, was the top U.S. envoy to Beijing in the late 1970s and is regarded as a good friend of China.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu also cabled congratulations to Bush and his running mate Dick Cheney.

“Our two countries have a long history, and have common principles in pursuing democracy and respecting human rights,” the statement quoted Chen as saying.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori said in a statement that his country wanted to cooperate with Bush to strengthen the alliance between the world’s two largest economic powers. He also said he wanted to visit the United States as soon as Bush is inaugurated into office in late January.

“It’s important that I meet him as soon as possible after he takes office,” he told reporters.

Japanese leaders in particular welcomed the importance that Bush attaches to the U.S.-Japan alliance, which Foreign Minister Yohei Kono called the “cornerstone of peace and stability” in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We are encouraged that president-elect Bush has stressed the significance of strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance during his campaign,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said.

In his telegram of congratulations, President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea said: “I hope that we can strengthen our joint efforts to settle peace on the Korean peninsula and end the Cold War while retaining strong U.S.-South Korea security alliance.”

Barak: Continue Path to Peace

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak congratulated Bush and expressed his “certainty that the strong friendship and special relationship between the two countries will continue in the future as well.”

In a statement released by his office, Barak thanked Gore for years of friendship and support, and said he believed the new administration would continue to aid the Mideast peace process.

“Similar values and joint interests have characterized U.S.-Israeli relations for decades and I have no doubt that President-elect Bush, whom I know and respect, will continue together with us in fortifying these ties,” Barak’s office quoted him as saying in the statement.

No Secret: Oz Likes W

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Bush could count on Australia’s commitment to working together.

“No country could be more genuine than Australia in its desire that the United States continue to flourish under your presidency,” Howard said in a letter to Bush.

Howard’s conservative coalition government had made no secret of its preference for Bush over Vice President Al Gore, and was among the first to offer premature congratulations on election night.

Pakistan also congratulated Bush and said it looked forward to working with the new administration for peace in South Asia.

Pakistan has worried about growing U.S. interest in India since the Cold War ended a decade ago. During Washington’s confrontation with Moscow, Pakistan was a close U.S. ally and India had warm ties with the Soviet Union.

U.S.-Pakistan relations have been strained by U.S. anger over Pakistan’s nuclear tests, its alleged military involvement in unrest in Indian-controlled Kashmir, its backing for the Taliban government in Afghanistan and Musharraf’s overthrow of the elected government 14 months ago.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban militia that rules most of the country welcomed Bush and issued a plea for a new, friendly relationship.

The United States and the Taliban have been at odds over the presence in Afghanistan of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, believed by Washington to be running a global terrorist network from his bases there. The U.S. has spearheaded U.N. sanctions against the Taliban.’s Ed Mazza and Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.