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U.S. Allies Congratulate Biden On Election; Kremlin Silent, Iran Cautious

Updated

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden with his wife, Jill Biden (right), and family members salute the crowd on stage after delivering remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7 and being declared the winner of the presidential election.

U.S. allies from Europe to East Asia have congratulated Joe Biden on his election as the next U.S. president, with Germany hailing it as a "new and exciting chapter" in transatlantic ties and Japan's leader pledging to work to ensure "peace, freedom, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region."

While many allies were quick to offer warm words after Biden was declared the winner November 7, a number of other prominent European and world leaders either stayed silent or issued more tempered statements of support.

In Moscow, the Kremlin had issued no statement on the election as of midafternoon on November 8.

Hungary's prime minister, whose anti-democratic policies have alienated him from European Union and NATO partners and who is an open supporter of President Donald Trump, sent a letter of congratulations to Biden, according to Viktor Orban's spokesman.

"Allow me to congratulate you on the successful presidential campaign. I wish you good health and continuous successes in carrying out your extremely responsible mission," Orban said, according to the Hungarian state news agency MTI.

In the days following the November 3 election, pro-government media in Hungary published unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the U.S. vote.

In Poland, another NATO ally, President Andrezj Duda gave qualified praise to Biden "as we await the nomination by the Electoral College."

Formally, Biden will not be the winner of the U.S. election until the Electoral College meets next month, and then the U.S. Congress ratifies those votes in early January. But the declaration of Biden's victory, made by all major U.S. news media on November 7, is widely accepted as definitive.

Iran's president, Hassan Rohani, meanwhile suggested the new Biden administration would be able to "compensate for...previous mistakes" -- a reference to Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump.

"Now there is an opportunity for the future American administration to compensate for its previous mistakes and return to the path of adherence to international commitments," Rohani said in a statement posted on his website.

Tensions with Iran skyrocketed under Trump, who pulled Washington out of the 2015 nuclear accord and reimposed crippling economic sanctions. Trump also ordered the drone assassination in Baghdad of the powerful commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps's Quds Force, Major General Qasem Soleimani. That killing stunned Tehran and many Iranians.

Biden has said that he planned to embark on a "credible path to return to diplomacy" with Iran and raised the possibility of returning to the nuclear deal, negotiated when he was vice president under Barack Obama.

Biden has said he wants to strengthen the transatlantic relationship, including reinvigorating NATO. Some former officials in the Trump White House had warned that Trump might try and withdraw the United States from NATO if he had won a second term.

European leaders expressed a sigh of relief when the election outcome was announced.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she "looked forward to future cooperation with President Biden. Our transatlantic friendship is irreplaceable if we are to master the great challenges of our time."

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "The Americans have chosen their President. Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris! We have a lot to do to overcome today's challenges. Let's work together!"

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, seen by many as a Trump ally and supporter, congratulated Biden and Harris on her "historic victory."

"The U.S. is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security," Johnson said.

In Japan, the closest U.S. ally in the Pacific, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called on Biden to help strengthen bilateral ties.

"I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the Japan-US Alliance and ensure peace, freedom, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond," Suga said on a Twitter.

Russia's 'Malign Activities'

Biden is expected to take a tougher stance toward the Kremlin on its human rights record and foreign policies compared with Trump.

He has repeatedly criticized President Vladimir Putin for Russia's "malign actions," including invading its neighbors and meddling in foreign elections, and recently called Moscow an "opponent."

While the Kremlin was slow to issue any statement about the Biden victory, Aleksei Navalny, who has become the most prominent and acerbic Kremlin critic and opposition figure, offered his congratulations.

Congratulations, he said in a post to Twitter, "to the Americans on defining the new leadership in a free and fair election. This is a privilege which is not available to all countries. Looking forward to the new level of cooperation between Russia and the US."

As vice president, Biden was the Obama administration's point man for Ukraine relations, in the aftermath of the 2014 Euromaidan uprising that ousted Ukraine's pro-Russian president. That upheaval led to Moscow annexing Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and stoking a war in eastern Ukraine that continues today.

Biden visited Ukraine six times during his tenure as vice president and helped provide more than $1.5 billion in military and other financial aid to Kyiv. He was also deeply involved in pushing the country to clean up rampant corruption, including pushing for the ouster of a notorious prosecutor-general.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has found his government caught up in U.S. domestic political affairs, tweeted his congratulations, saying Ukraine "is optimistic about the future of the strategic partnership with the United States."

Ukraine and the United States "have always collaborated on security, trade, investment, democracy, fight against corruption. Our friendship becomes only stronger!"

A 2019 phone call in which Trump suggested that Zelenskiy help investigate Biden and the business dealings of his son Hunter led to Trump being impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate eventually acquitted Trump.

Zelenskiy's predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, also welcomed the Biden victory.

"Ukraine is blessed to have a U.S. President with so profound and personal knowledge of our country," he wrote on Twitter.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Hungarian Service, Reuters, and AP
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