Heads of state welcome Obama presidency

Before he had even taken his oath of office, heads of state around the world were showering new US President Barack Obama with their congratulatory messages. They also shared their expectations, and warnings.


Putin: "The biggest disappointments are born out of big expectations"


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he had seen "positive signals" about Obama but warned against expectations for the new president running too high.

"I am deeply convinced that the biggest disappointments are born out of big expectations," Putin said during a trip to Germany at the weekend.

Russia looms as a major challenge for the Obama administration after bilateral relations sank over Moscow's brief war with Georgia and Washington's plans for a missile shield in central Europe.

Sarkozy: "We are eager for him to get to work so that with him we can change the world"

French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to work closely with US President Barack Obama in a message to the new US leader released by his office.

"I wish to assure you that France is determined to work hand in hand with America, its friend and ally, for us to respond together to the immense challenges our world faces today," Sarkozy said.

"With your election, the American people has forcefully expressed its faith in progress and the future, and its desire for a renewed America, open, strong and full of solidarity, which you embody."

Brown: A "new chapter in the world's history"

"The whole world is watching the inauguration of President Obama, witnessing a new chapter in both American history and the world's history," declared British Prime Minister Gordon Brown from Downing Street as Obama took the oath of office in Washington.

"He's not only the first black American president, but he sets out with the determination to solve the world's problems," he added.

Barroso: "Deepen transatlantic ties"

"I call on Europe and the United States of America to deepen further their transatlantic ties and join efforts to engage others in addressing the great challenges of our time," a statement from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said.

Almost six years after the US-led war in Iraq divided Europe, EU leaders hope that Obama will re-unite with them to confront global challenges.



Zapatero: "Obama gives us hope"


Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero welcomed new US President Barack Obama's inauguration speech on Tuesday as "very positive."

"It was... one which leaves intact hopes of seeing a fairer international order, of seeing dialogue and peace gaining ground in the face of conflict," Zapatero said in a statement.

"Obama gives us hope and his words put us on a better path for a smooth and fruitful relationship with the Spanish government," he added. "The arrival of Obama gives us an opportunity we won't pass up."

Berlusconi: "Work together immediately to confront the current challenges"

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose country currently holds the presidency of the G8, offered to work with Obama on the financial crisis, the conflict in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The prime minister, who has sought close ties with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, also spoke of the "need to maintain constant dialogue with the Russian Federation and to encourage its full participation in the world's system of security and governance".



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