Reaction Around The World

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The Independent US

MIDDLE EAST

MIDDLE EAST

Israel reacted with evident contentment to the prospect of a second Bush term while stressing the notable lack of difference between the stated stances of the two candidates over the conflict with the Palestinians. The diplomatic response came as officials moved to play down the conclusions of a leaked pre-election Foreign Ministry report suggesting that, for different reasons, both President Bush and Senator Kerry would step up pressure on Israel to pave the way for peace negotiations in the election.

A senior official questioned the view that, as a second-term president without electoral worries, Mr Bush was more likely to set tighter limits on the US's support for Israel, and welcomed the "continuity" afforded by George Bush's re-election. Among most Palestinians who expressed a view, Senator Kerry had been the preferred choice because of what they saw as President Bush's unequivocal support for Israel and because of the war in Iraq. But the majority of the Palestinian public questioned in the West Bank yesterday professed indifference to the result.

AFGHANISTAN

A lively debate was being waged in Kabul over which American candidate would be best for Afghanistan. Some felt a Bush defeat could mean a pullout of US troops, dreaded because of fears warlords would fight among themselves again But a government official, Mohammed Qaseem, said: "Kerry would have ... kept the focus on this country. Bush is only interested in Iraq."

IRAQ

Iraqis greeted George Bush's re-election in a somewhat resigned manner. Asked how he viewed the prospect of Mr Bush getting four more years, Selim Abbas Ahmed, an engineer, said: "Don't you mean four more wars?" Sheikh Khalid al-Jumaili, negotiator for the people of Fallujah in talks with Iraq's interim government, said: "If there is the slightest possibility of a change of policy in Iraq, it would have been with Kerry".But Karim Abdul Younis, a doctor, said: "The only reason they can even talk like this so openly is because Saddam was removed."

FRANCE

President Jacques Chirac congratulated Mr Bush in a letter headed "Dear George", despite his opposition to the US-led war in Iraq: "It is in a spirit of dialogue, esteem and mutual respect that we must continue to develop our co-operation, our shared fight against terrorism and the action we carry together to promote liberty and democracy," the French president wrote. Mr Chirac said a strong transatlantic relationship was crucial to meet the challenges ahead.

ITALY

Silvio Berlusconisaid Mr Bush's success was thanks to his tax cuts - Mr Berlusconi has been pushing tax cuts for months. Fausto Bertinotti, leader of the Rifondazione Comunista, said a Bush victory was "a dramatic moment: the victory of the war party, a difficult moment for the human race."

SPAIN

Over the past year, emotions have run high in Spain on George Bush. Yesterday, however, the government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said that it hoped for "constructive relations" with the new administration. Mr Zapatero, who pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq, might have been expected to prefer a Kerry win, but yesterday said he looked forward to "an efficient and constructive co-operation" with President Bush.

GERMANY

Several German politicians reflected widespread popular dismay at result. Michael Möller, the deputy parliamentary leader of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's ruling Social Democrats described Mr Bush as a "fundamentalist" and added: "If he wins it will be neither good for the world, nor for democratic America."

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