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.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Biden and Harris and spoke of the “fantastically joint common agenda” of his government and the new US administration that unites the two leaders.
Johnson said the US had been through a “bumpy period” but said the advent of the Biden administration was “a fantastic thing for America”.
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.
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 fulfills 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.
In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro’s government urged dialogue with the Biden administration, while hoping the new president abandons the avalanche of damaging sanctions Trump imposed to attempt a regime change.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Biden was a good friend to New Zealand and highlighted in particular the words given in his inaugural address. “President Biden’s message of unity as he takes office is one that resonates with New Zealanders,” Ardern said.
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.