World Leaders Hail Obama Victory, Pledge Cooperation

World leaders on Wednesday 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 re-election 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.

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote to Obama saying she looked forward to continuing cooperation "so both our countries can continue to stand side-by-side to contend with the important foreign policy and economic challenges that we face as friends and allies".

Her message was echoed by European Union President Herman Van Rompuy, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and French President Francois Hollande.

Hollande said Obama's re-election is a "clear choice for an open, united America that is totally engaged on the international scene".

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki told Obama that people in his ancestral homeland were celebrating his "well deserved victory".

"Kenya, as always is proud of our association with you," Kibaki said in a statement. "We look forward to the deepening of relations between our two countries during your second term in office."

"The reason why he has won is because God has given it to him," said Sarah Obama, 90 this year and the third wife of the paternal grandfather of the president, who has said he regards her as a grandmother.

South African President Jacob Zuma urged the United State to continue playing a positive role in Africa, saying "we value our relations with the United States and look forward to strengthening bilateral cooperation in the years to come."

Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi also hailed the win, saying he hoped it would strengthen the "friendship between the two countries".

In Muslim majority Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak urged Obama to continue to foster understanding and respect between the United States and Muslims worldwide.

There was no immediate official reaction in nuclear-armed Pakistan, a key US ally in the "war on terror" but whose relations with Washington are only now beginning to rekindle after lurching from crisis to crisis last year.

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