World hopes for renewed cooperation with US under Biden
World leaders welcomed into their ranks the new US President Joe Biden, noting their most pressing problems, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, require multilateral cooperation, an approach his predecessor Donald Trump ridiculed.
Many expressed hope Biden would right US democracy two weeks after rioters stormed the Capitol, shaking the faith of those fighting for democracy in their own countries.
Governments targeted and sanctioned under Trump embraced the chance for a fresh start with Biden, while some heads of state who lauded Trump’s blend of nationalism and populism were more restrained in their expectations.
But the chance to repair frayed alliances and work together on global problems carried the day.
China, whose US relations nosedived due to widespread frustration in Washington over its human rights record and accusations of technology theft, expressed hope about the change in the White House.
“I think after this very difficult and extraordinary time, both the Chinese and American people deserve a better future,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing.
Biden “understands the importance of cooperation among nations,” said former Colombian president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos, who left office in 2018. “As a matter of fact, if we don’t cooperate – all nations – to fight climate change, then we will all perish. It’s as simple as that."
French President Emmanuel Macron and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama were among those welcoming US attention to climate change. After Trump withdrew the US from the Paris climate accord, Biden reversed the move in the first hours of his presidency Wednesday.
With Biden, “we will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet," Macron wrote on Twitter. “Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!”
Other European allies saw a chance to come in out of the cold after strained relationships with the Trump administration.
European Council President Charles Michel said trans-Atlantic relations have “greatly suffered in the last four years" while the world has become less stable and less predictable.
“We have our differences and they will not magically disappear. America seems to have changed, and how it’s perceived in Europe and the rest of the world has also changed,” added Michel, whose open criticism of the Trump era contrasted with the silence that mostly reigned in Europe while the Republican leader was in the White House.
In Ballina, Ireland, where Biden’s great-great-grandfather was born in 1832, a mural of a smiling Biden adorned a wall in the town, where some of the president’s relatives still live.
“As he takes the oath of office, I know that President Biden will feel the weight of history — the presence of his Irish ancestors who left Mayo and Louth in famine times in search of life and hope,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who formed close ties with Trump, noted a personal friendship with Biden and said he looked forward to working together to further strengthen the US-Israel alliance.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has accused Trump of unfair bias toward Israel with policies like moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, expressed hope for a more even-handed approach from Biden. He urged “a comprehensive and just peace process that fulfils the aspirations of the Palestinian people for freedom and independence.”
In Latin America, Biden faces immediate challenges on immigration, and the leaders of the two most populous countries — Brazil and Mexico — were chummy with Trump. The Trump administration also expanded painful sanctions against governments in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Read more: What Biden owes the Palestinians
World leaders also acknowledged the history of Vice President Kamala Harris taking office. She is the first woman, the first Black woman and the first South Asian to hold that office in the US
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter congratulated both Biden and Harris, whose maternal grandfather was Indian.
“That is an historic moment and one that, I think as a father of daughters, you can only celebrate," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.