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World Expresses Optimism Over Palestinian Election

10 January 2005 -- The international community is expressing cautious optimism today over the election of Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian Authority's new president.

French, British, Spanish, and Italian officials all issued statements of congratulations. Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Abbas to make an official visit to Moscow.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso described Abbas's victory as "a very important step" for the future of the Palestinian people.

"This is an very important step towards the creation of viable and democratic Palestinian state. All parties concerned in the region have to come together now to ensure a lasting peace. Mr. Abbas and his Israeli counterpart [Ariel Sharon] have said that they are willing to meet in the near future, which is a very promising sign."

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mussa also praised the peaceful election. In Tehran, an Iranian government spokeswoman said the Islamist republic will "respect" the election results.