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World powers hopeful for reset with US as Biden takes office

Leaders from across the world congratulated newly sworn-in US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, expressing cautious optimism over future relations.

Berlin, 20 January 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Leaders from across the world congratulated newly sworn-in US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, expressing cautious optimism over future relations.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Biden “on being sworn in as President of the United States” and Harris “on her historic inauguration” on Twitter.

“America’s leadership is vital on the issues that matter to us all, from climate change to COVID, and I look forward to working with President Biden,” he added.

EU Council President Charles Michel also extended his good wishes in a video message to Biden and Harris, who had just been sworn in as the first female US vice president.

“Like people of all nations, the American people deserve leaders who take their hopes and concerns to heart,” Michel said. “And I trust President Biden and Kamala Harris will do just that.”

Earlier, Michel had called for the United States and European Union to create a “new founding pact” for transatlantic relations.
To do so, he invited Joe Biden to Brussels for a summit.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tweeted that “this is a great day for democracy, reaching far beyond the American borders.”

Italy was “ready to face the challenges of our common international agenda together with the United States,” he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who enjoyed a warm relationship with former president Donald Trump, also voiced optimism concerning future relations with the US under the new leadership, in a congratulatory video message to Biden and Harris.

“I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the US-Israel alliance, to continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran,” he said.

Other nations had also expressed cautious hope for a reset in relations ahead of the Biden/Harris inauguration, while prioritizing their own interests.

China was hoping for “a collaboration beneficial to both sides,” a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said.

But China would preserve its own interests and national security and not be defamed by the United States, the spokesperson added.

The comments came after the designated incoming secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, named relations with China as a central challenge for the US on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, arch-rival Iran said it was generally ready to clear its differences with the US. But the ball was in Washington’s court, President Hassan Rowhani said on Wednesday.

“Everything they do, we will do exactly the same … no more, no less,” Rowhani told state television.

With reference to the 2015 nuclear deal, Rowhani said that if Biden was serious about fulfilling its international obligations towards Iran, Tehran would do the same.

Trump had left the deal and imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, after which Tehran stopped fulfilling the technical requirements of the deal.

Rowhani said Iran would return to its obligations if the rest of the deal – namely scrapping the sanctions – was implemented as well. He declined a full or partial renegotiation of the agreement.

In London, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted that Britain, one of Washington’s most important allies, was looking forward to working with Biden and Harris.

“Many congratulations to @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris on this historic day,” Raab tweeted.

“From climate change to trade and security, our two countries share a close bond and special relationship. We look forward to working with you on shared priorities as a force for good in the world.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany would look for common ground with the new administration, as he expected the US to “rejoin the WHO [World Health Organization] and the climate deal,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We will not always be of the same opinion as the new administration, but we will do everything to find solutions,” Maas said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen struck a similar tone, saying the EU was ready for a reset in transatlantic relations.

To this end, she suggested several areas of cooperation, for example creating a new trade and technology council.

Meanwhile, climate activist Greta Thunberg bid Trump farewell on Twitter, mocking a tweet he had once posted to make fun of her after an emotional speech at a UN summit on climate change in New York.

“He seems like a very happy old man looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” she tweeted, posting a photo of Trump boarding the Marine One helicopter from the lawn outside the White House.

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