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Thursday, November 8, 2012
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World leaders hail Obama

World leaders yesterday hailed President Barack Obama's sweeping re-election, with allies pledging to deepen cooperation with the United States on fighting the world economic slump and maintaining security across the globe.

Congratulations poured in from across the world, including fellow UN Security Council members Britain, China, France and Russia as well as its staunch Middle East ally Israel and Obama's ancestral home in Kenya.

Russia President Vladimir Putin, whose relations with Washington have often been frosty, sent a telegram congratulating Obama on his victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

"We hope that the positive beginnings that have taken hold in Russian-US relations on the world arena will grow in the interests of international security and stability," Russian news agencies quoted Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

Moscow is ready to "go as far as the US administration is willing to go," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

In Beijing, Chinese President Hu Jintao, who himself is handing over power at a Communist Party congress starting this week, noted "positive progress" in Sino-US relations over the past four years despite tensions over issues such as trade and territorial disputes involving US allies.

China will "look to the future and make continuous efforts for fresh and greater progress in the building of the China-US cooperative partnership," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who at times appeared to have tense relations with Obama, also joined the well wishers.

"I will continue to work with President Obama to ensure the vital security interests of Israel and the United States," said Netanyahu, who had appeared to throw his support behind Romney during the election campaign.

Iran, facing Western pressure particularly from the United States as well as archfoe Israel over its controversial nuclear drive, has yet to comment on Obama's win.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was looking forward to working again with his "friend" Obama on several fronts, including kickstarting the world economy and finding a solution for the escalating Syria conflict.

"There are so many things that we need to do: we need to kickstart the world economy and I want to see an EU-US trade deal," Cameron said.

"One of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis," he said, referring to the near 20-month conflict in Syria that world leaders have so far failed to resolve.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas urged the US leader to pursue peace efforts while Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said he hoped that Obama's reelection would mean the creation of a Palestinian state in the next four years.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold since September 2010.

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