Worldwide, hope abounds for new era
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Whoever wins the US election, the result will have an impact on the global political arena. World leaders explain their expectations and concerns that come with a new era in relations with America.
• Photos: campaign at a glance
• The issues: compare the candidates' platforms
• Swing states map / Democratic Convention / Republican Convention
Hope for a new era in ties with the United States spread across the world Tuesday with the spotlight firmly fixed on Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama even before result of the presidential vote was known.
But many government leaders refused to rule out the possibility of Republican rival John McCain winning and stressed that the polls -- regardless of the outcome -- would go down as a watershed in US history.
"What I do know is that American leadership is going to be very important in the next critical time and I look forward to working with the next president whoever he is," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Al-Arabiya television.
"I think whatever the result of the American election... history has been made in this campaign -- the women coming to the fore, a black candidate coming to the fore.
"But it is for the American people to decide, it is their decision."
On Monday, Brown said that the US leadership would be "central" to the future of the crisis-hit global economy and that the world would "want to work closely with America."
The new president will also have to quickly revive efforts to end conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, and the exiled political supremo of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said his Palestinian Islamist movement is ready for talks with any new US leader.
"Hamas is ready for dialogue with any incoming US president... Democrat Obama or Republican McCain," Meshaal told Jordan's Al-Arab Al-Yawm daily.
"We acknowledge that the United States is powerful, but we are more powerful on our territory," he said, adding that Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by the United States, "welcomes any change in US foreign policies..."
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas meanwhile said he hoped the new US leader would make more headway in the Middle East peace process than his predecessor George W.Bush.
"We expect change and we hope that that will bring peace for us," Abbas said. "The two American candidates are working on achieving peace and Palestine will cooperate with the new president whoever he is," he said.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, an arch-critic of the United States, said an Obama victory would mean "a small light on the horizon," adding "I hope Obama himself powers that light on."
If McCain wins, "we know what to expect: struggle and more struggle, resistance and more resistance," Chavez said but predicting that Obama would win "by a landslide."
Malaysia's foreign minister Rais Yatim also backed Obama, saying a victory for the Democrat would improve America's relations with the world.
"I hope Obama wins... due to the need of the world to see the United States represent a more cosmopolitan or universal political attitude and levels of relations," he told reporters.
"We have had the experience of sampling the Bush type of international politics and international dealings, so with Obama... I could visualise that there would be many more windows open to the world..." he said.
The only figure to express reservations was maverick Russian militant nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
"Obama, he is the American Gorbachev, he will destroy America, it will not be rebuilt," Zhirinovsky said at a meeting of the ultra-nationalist party he founded, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
Credited in the West for leading the former Soviet Union away from Cold War confrontation, Mikhail Gorbachev, now 77, is vilified by many at home for presiding over the collapse of the Soviet Union and ushering in harsh economic reforms.
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