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Europe Welcomes Obama Victory

There has been a warm welcome from around the globe for the election victory of Barack Obama - words of congratulations from European leaders and expressions of hope for a new era of cooperation. VOA's Sonja Pace reports from London.

Barack Obama's historic election victory made every major headline around the globe and topped every newscast.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he looks forward to working with Mr. Obama.

"I know that he is a true friend of Britain and I know that the values we share in common and the policies on which we can work together will enable us as two countries to come through these difficult economic times," Brown said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Mr. Obama's election raises hopes in France, in Europe and the rest of the world.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she anticipates closer cooperation between the US and Europe under an Obama administration. The European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana also welcomed the news and Mr. Obama's emphasis on change.

"Change is what we need in the world today," she said. "Many problems we have on the table and I very much hope that we will be able to do it together, to find a solution to them together."

There were warm words too on the streets of London. One person said, "I am excited, I think it is a good thing. I think the last eight years have been pretty difficult for the West and I am really excited that Obama might bring some new changes."

"I think it is great," said another. "I think it is a real historical thing to happen and I think it is good because I think he is going to be different." And a third said, "Very happy about Barrack Obama. I think he is a vote for humanity and for the world and I think he brings John F. Kennedy type hope to the world."

The warm reception comes as no surprise in Europe where Mr. Obama is immensely popular.

International affairs specialist Charlie Beckett of the London School of Economics said Europeans know that any American president will make decisions based on American interests, but he said they are hoping a president Obama will listen to others around the world.

"I think Obama has already signaled with that very risky trip to Europe and Berlin in the middle of the campaign that he at least wants to make gestures about including the rest of the world in what America is thinking and doing and I think [that] in itself is very important. That is what politics is about. It is about building relationships," Beckett said.

But after all the euphoria of a stunning election victory, a host of problems still faces the incoming Obama administration - the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world financial crisis, global warming, the threat of terrorism, Iran's nuclear ambitions and a resurgent Russia that views the United States as a potential threat.

There was no immediate warm welcome from Moscow.

Delivering his state of the nation speech in the Kremlin, President Dmitri Medvedev instead blamed U.S. policy for Russia's brief conflict with neighboring Georgia in August. And, he threatened to station new missiles near the border with Poland - in response to Washington's plans to deploy an anti-missile defense system in parts of Eastern Europe.

Mr. Medvedev made only an indirect reference to the US election.

He said Russia is not inherently anti-American and he said he hopes the new U.S. administration will choose, what he called, a full-fledged relationship between the two countries.