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Great Expectations

DW staff (kjb)
November 5, 2008

European leaders said they hoped for a "new deal" for the world after Barack Obama's historic and sweeping election victory which makes him the first African-American to lead the United States.

Barack Obama with his family
Obama with wife Michelle and daughters Malia and SashaImage: AP

European leaders on Wednesday hailed Obama's historic victory, saying they hoped the Democrat President-elect would usher in a new order of international cooperation between the EU and the US.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Obama's victory heralded "a time for renewed commitment between Europe and the United States of America," adding that a new transatlantic bond must now be forged.

"I sincerely hope that with the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with Europe to drive this new deal. For the benefit of our societies, for the benefit of the world," said Barroso.

Hope for progress on economic front

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would look to Obama for solutions to the financial crisis, praising him for "energizing politics with his progress values."

Barack Obama
Obama gave a powerful victory speech in ChicagoImage: AP

"I know Barack Obama, and we share many values," said Brown. "We both have determination to show that government can act to help people fairly through these difficult times facing the global economy."

In response to looming recession on both sides of the Atlantic, Europe has encouraged the US to reform the global financial system, particularly the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday said she was "convinced that Europe and the United States will work closely and in a spirit of mutual trust together to confront new dangers and risks and will seize the opportunities presented by our global world."

France says Obama win "raises hope"

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, also touched on the major challenges facing Obama at the start of his presidency.

"With the world in turmoil and doubt, the American people, faithful to the values that have always defined America's identity, have expressed with force their faith in progress and the future," Sarkozy said.

Barack Obama with French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Obama visited Sarkozy in Paris earlier this yearImage: AP

Speaking to the American people, he said, "At a time when we must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe and beyond. France and Europe (…) will find a new energy to work with America to preserve peace and world prosperity."

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner wished Obama "the greatest possible success" but also urged greater transatlantic cooperation: "Together we must seize this historic opportunity to combine our efforts to meet the economic, climate and security challenges that also face us all."

The global financial meltdown is likely to top the transatlantic agenda when Obama is sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2009.

The EU is planning to send Obama a letter setting out European hopes for a radical overhaul of the world's financial systems to tackle the economic crisis, reforms to the United Nations and more cooperation to tackle Iran and to bring peace to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Obama is expected to first hear from the EU and many European leaders first hand at a summit on the financial crisis in Washington next week.

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