World leaders express hope as Biden takes office

U.S. President Joe Biden prepares to sign a series of executive orders at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office just hours after his inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden became the 46th president of the United States earlier today during the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

Leaders from around the world congratulated newly sworn-in U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, expressing cautious optimism over future relations after four years of tumult under Donald Trump.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the swearing-in ceremony of the new president and vice president as “a true celebration of American democracy.”

“I look forward to a new chapter of German-American friendship and cooperation,” said her spokesman Steffen Seibert, who quoted the chancellor on Twitter.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who butted heads with Trump over trade, said that “Canada and the United States enjoy one of the most unique relationships in the world.”

He said he looked forward to working with the new administration to promote climate action, clean economic growth, inclusion and diversity.

The 70-year-old Western military alliance was shaken by Trump’s frequent criticism, who often cast it as a drain on U.S. resources.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who appeared to have a chummy relationship with Trump, congratulated Biden “on being sworn in as President of the United States” and Harris “on her historic inauguration” on Twitter.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was blunt in telling Scotland’s Parliament Trump wouldn’t be missed.

“I’m sure many of us across the chamber and across Scotland will be very happy to say cheerio to Donald Trump today,” British news agency PA Media reported her as saying.

In Brussels, top European Union officials welcomed a new era of cooperation with Washington after four years of often being treated like a hostile ally.

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

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin gave special mention to Harris, saying “my warmest congratulations! I look forward (to) working with you and the new administration.”

She named the climate, equality, and human rights as areas of focus.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Facebook that she hoped Biden would become a unifying force “after the unrest and division” seen in American society.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison congratulated Biden and Harris and said “the Australia-U.S. Alliance has never been more important.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, an ally of Trump’s, congratulated Biden and said that he hoped the two countries could pursue a free trade deal, in a letter posted on Twitter.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga congratulated Biden and Harris and said he looked forward to “working with you and your team to strengthen our alliance and realise a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

South Korea’s President Moon Jae In has expressed hope for future strengthening of the two countries’ alliance: “America is back,” Moon wrote in a congratulatory message addressed to Biden on Twitter.

In a separate congratulatory telegram to the U.S. president, Moon wrote that he wished the two could meet directly in the near future to build “friendship and trust.”

“We wish you and your administration every success. Taiwan stands ready to work with you as a global force for good,” Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who enjoyed a warm relationship with Trump, also voiced optimism.

“I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the U.S.-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.

The Palestinians meanwhile hope Washington will dial down its pro-Israel stance.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said “we look forward to working together for peace and stability in the region and the world.”

He also expressed his readiness for “a comprehensive and just peace process that would achieve the wishes of the Palestinian people in freedom and independence.”

Other nations also expressed cautious hope for a reset in relations ahead of the inauguration, while prioritising their own interests.

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said he wanted to build relations for the future and to improve our relationship with mutual respect, urging the U.S. to to “leave behind the lies, the manipulation and the hatred.”

The U.S. has long been critical of the authoritarian government in Caracas, but in the past four years under Trump, pressure and sanctions had increased significantly.

China was hoping for “a collaboration beneficial to both sides,” a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said, adding that the country would maintain its own interests and would not be defamed by the U.S.

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

Of the 2015 nuclear deal, Rowhani said that if Biden was serious about fulfilling its international obligations towards Iran, Tehran would do likewise.


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