As Putin and Xi bide their time, which world leaders have and have not congratulated Biden?

President-elect starts work by convening a coronavirus task force

Matt Mathers
Tuesday 10 November 2020 17:30 GMT
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Joe Biden kisses new grandchild surrounded by family in victory speech

Days after Joe Biden's victory, the diplomatic dance has begun as world leaders rush to congratulate the former vice president on getting the top job.

But what is perhaps more interesting is the radio silence coming from a handful of leaders who so far appear reluctant to offer the president-elect their best wishes.

Here's a list of leaders biding their time on Biden, and the others who have already sent him their best wishes.

Xi Jinping, China

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman on Monday said that China would act in "accordance with international practice" when asked when its leader would congratulate Mr Biden.

Wang Wenbin did not elaborate on what he meant by "international practice".  But China observers may question that sentiment and point out the country has spent decades flouting international contraventions and breaking diplomatic norms.

Disputes over the South China Sea, trade and security have resulted in US-China relations reaching an all-time low.

President Trump took a hard line on China and Beijing's cautious approach to the election result could be an attempt not to further inflame those tensions with the commander-in-chief still holed up in the White House.

He often launched blistering verbal attacks on China; Mr Biden is likely to tone down the rhetoric. 

Vladimir Putin, Russia

In Moscow, Russian president Vladimir Putin also hung back on sending his wishes to president-elect Biden.

A spokesman for Mr Putin said the former KGB agent would only congratulate Mr Biden when the "legal processes" have been completed.

"We believe the correct thing to do is wait,” Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday. “President Putin has on many occasions said he would respect any choice the American nation makes.”

Mr Biden has made clear what he thinks about the Russian president, branding him “the biggest threat to US security”.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil

Strongman Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro found a natural ally in president Trump, both of whom rode to power on the crest of a populist wave that could be in the process of breaking following Mr Biden's win.

Trump and Bolsonaro shake hands at the president’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida residence on 7 March 2020

Mr Bolsonaro and Mr Trump took a similar approach to handling the coronavirus pandemic and soon found their respective countries atop the coronavirus death toll table.

Nicknamed the “Trump of the Tropics”, Mr Bolsonaro once described the president-elect's comments on climate change as "disastrous".

He has yet to congratulate Mr Biden but is now distancing himself from Mr Trump, according to the Washington Post.

"[Trump is] not the most important person in the world," he is reported to have said of the president's defeat. "The most important person is God," he added.

Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump inside the demilitarised zone separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea. 

Kim Jong-un, North Korea

Kim Jong-un, the leader president Trump once labelled "rocket man", has not rushed to congratulate Mr Biden.

Mr Kim and the outgoing president met on three separate occasions and exchanged a series of personal letters.  

North Korea has not cut back on its arsenal of nuclear weapons and the US has not lifted sanctions on the communist regime.  North Korea is likely to remain a foreign policy headache for the incoming Biden administration.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

Turkey has given a somewhat muted response to Mr Biden's win, with vice president Fuat Oktay saying a change of administration would not affect the two countries' relationship.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, however, has remained silent on Mr Biden, who he once described as an "interventionist".

Leaders who have congratulated President Trump

Anegla Merkel, Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday congratulated Joe Biden on his win and called for the European Union and the United States to work “side by side”, but also cautioned that the EU must do more to provide for its own security.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and former US vice president Joe Biden pose for photographers prior to their trilateral talks during the 51st Munich Security Conference  in Munich, Germany, on 7 February, 2015

Ms Merkel held up Mr Biden, who was vice president under former president Barack Obama, as an experienced leader who knows Germany and Europe well, stressing: “We are allies in NATO, we share fundamental values...and interests.”

Emmanuel Macron, France

"The Americans have chosen their president," the French president tweeted on Saturday. "We have a lot to do to overcome today's challenges. Let's work together!"

Boris Johnson, UK

Prime minister Boris Johnson, widely seen as having been close to President Trump, was quick out of the blocks to send his wishes to the incoming commander-in-chief.

Mr Biden, who has Irish roots, has made it clear there will be no US-UK trade deal unless the Good Friday Agreement is fully protected in the Brexit process.

"The US is our most important ally," Mr Johnson said in a statement on Saturday. "I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security".

As of Monday afternoon, Mr Johnson was still waiting to hear from the 46th president of the US.

Justin Trudeau, Canada

"Congratulations, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris," the Canadian prime minister said on Saturday. "Our two countries are close friends, partners, and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both."

Micheal Martin, Ireland  

The Taoiseach wrote: "On behalf of the government and the people of Ireland, I offer warmest congratulations to Joe Biden on his election as the 46th President of the United States. Ireland takes pride in Joe Biden’s election, just as we are proud of all the generations of Irish women and Irish men and their ancestors whose toil and genius have enriched the diversity that powers America.

"This is a particularly special day for the people of County Louth and of County Mayo who count President-elect Biden among their own."

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand

The prime minister, who recently won re-election, said: "There are many challenges in front of the international community right now, the message of unity from Joe Biden positions us well to take those challenges on.

“New Zealand will continue to work side-by-side with the United States on the issues that matter to both of us, including the prosperity, security, and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific and Pacific Island regions."

Giuseppe Conte, Italy

“Congratulations to the American people and institutions for an outstanding turnout of democratic vitality,” said Giuseppe Conte, Italy's prime minister.

“We are ready to work with the president-elect Joe Biden to make the transatlantic relationship stronger. The US can count on Italy as a solid ally and a strategic partner".

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