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World Leaders Congratulate Biden On Win, And Some Celebrate Trump's Defeat

Joe Biden speaks Thursday in Wilmington, Del., with Sen. Kamala Harris at his side. World leaders reacted to Biden's victory, mostly congratulating the president-elect and vice president-elect.
Carolyn Kaster
Joe Biden speaks Thursday in Wilmington, Del., with Sen. Kamala Harris at his side. World leaders reacted to Biden's victory, mostly congratulating the president-elect and vice president-elect.

Updated at 12:44 p.m. ET Sunday

World leaders have acknowledged — and even celebrated — the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the 2020 United States presidential election.

Even one of President Trump's most fervent allies, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, eventually congratulated Biden, tweeting on Sunday that he was a "great friend" of Israel.

But there are still holdouts. Russia's Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro remain silent. And the leader of Melania Trump's home country, Slovenia, is spreading conspiracy theories about a rigged vote.

The Slovenian prime minister, Janez Jansa, belongs to a clique of European populists who share Trump's disdain for migrants, dissent and the media. These populists, led by Hungary's Viktor Orban, claim Brussels is run by liberal elites working with George Soros, the financier demonized by far-right nationalists on both sides of the Atlantic.

Orban finally acknowledged Biden's win on Sunday, telling a news agency that Biden had run a "successful campaign." The lukewarm tone mirrored that of another Trump ally in Europe, Polish president Andrzej Duda.

Jansa, who served prison time on corruption charges, is known for using Twitter to attack his political opponents. Jansa was ridiculed for (prematurely) congratulating Trump on Wednesday, when the president declared himself the winner, and has since tweeted baseless accusations of voter fraud. Government-controlled media in Slovenia and Hungary have repeated that false claim.

Here's a snapshot of reactions from around the world:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he looks forward to working with Biden, Harris and the incoming administration.

"Our shared geography, common interests, deep personal connections, and strong economic ties make us close friends, partners, and allies," Trudeau said in a statement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also congratulated Harris' historic win as the first woman to be vice president-elect, and praised the relationship between Germany and the U.S.

"Our transatlantic friendship is irreplaceable if we are to master the great challenges of our time," Merkel said.

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!"

Macron had tried to develop a working relationship with Trump during the president's 2017 visit to France. But the leaders failed to see eye to eye on the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal: Trump withdrew the U.S. from both.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Twitter that his country "is optimistic about the future of the strategic partnership" with the United States. An alleged U.S. attempt at a quid pro quo with Ukraine over military funding was at the center of Trump's impeachment.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also offered a statement on Biden's election.

"I know Joe Biden as a strong supporter of our Alliance & look forward to working closely with him. A strong #NATO is good for both North America & Europe," Stoltenberg tweeted.

Trump has been a vocal critic of NATO, which he called "obsolete" at one point. But he has also shown some enthusiasm for it.

In the Middle East, Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, tweeted that he looked forward to working with a Biden administration "to continue strengthening the friendship between our countries." Trump was seen as siding with Saudi Arabia in 2017 during a rift that pitted other Gulf states against Qatar.

Congratulations and well wishes to Biden and Harris also came from some leaders who have been Trump's closest international allies.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has had a cozy relationship with Trump, echoed other European leaders' sentiments as he looked toward the future.

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

Days ago, a spokesperson for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was confident he could establish "equally warm personal relations" with Biden as he did with Trump.

Duterte openly rooted for Trump during the election, and he had a remarkably poor relationship with former President Barack Obama over his criticisms of Duterte's bloody drug war.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — a right-wing nationalist who calls Trump a close friend — said Biden's work as vice president had been "critical and invaluable" to strengthening the India-U.S. relationship.

Modi also praised the vice president-elect, who has Indian heritage through her mother. He called Harris' success "pathbreaking and a matter of immense pride" for Indian-Americans.

"I am confident that the vibrant India-US ties will get even stronger with your support and leadership," Modi tweeted.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — whom Trump once reportedly referred to as "my favorite dictator" — was one of the first Arab leaders to congratulate Biden. The Trump administration has removed blocks on military aid to Egypt that were previously imposed due to human rights concerns.

But while most world leaders highlighted Biden's victory, others celebrated Trump's defeat.

Iran's state news agency quoted President Hassan Rouhani as saying the U.S. must now correct its "false approach toward Iran in the past three years."

In his comments, Rouhani made apparent reference to the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the world's major powers, which called for easing sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran pulling back on its nuclear program. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2018 andhas since reimposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Iran.

Rouhani said the Iranian people had stood up to American "economic terrorism" under Trump and that it was time for the U.S. to return to "honoring its commitments."

Some Palestinian leaders also expressed relief at Trump's loss.

"America Detrumped! The world also needs to be able to breathe. Trumpism must be carefully scrutinized & remedied to restore the human, moral & legal equilibrium within and beyond the US," Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi tweeted.

In Gaza, the political leader of the militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, called the Trump administration "the most extremist in supporting the occupation at the expense of Palestinian national rights."

Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. Embassy there — even though Palestinians seek part of the city for their future capital.

"We call on the elected administration to abandon the so-called deal of the century and to cancel the decision to consider Jerusalem as the capital of the occupation and to transfer the American embassy to it, " Haniyeh said in a statement.

NPR's Julie McCarthy, Jane Arraf, Lauren Frayer, Peter Kenyon and Daniel Estrin contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.