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World Welcomes Obama Win

Wednesday, 04 June 2008 15:51 By Jill Lawless, Truthout | name.

World Welcomes Obama Win

    London - Excitement about Barack Obama emerged as a global phenomenon Wednesday as commentators and citizens around the world welcomed the news that he had sealed the Democratic presidential nomination.

    The excitement was less about Obama's foreign policies - which remain vague on many fronts - than a sense that the candidacy of a black American with relatives in Africa and childhood friends in Asia marks a historic moment.

    Michael Cox, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, said Obama's win "has sent out a lot of positive signals around the world."

    "He has a very appealing persona - elegant, fluent, strings lots of sentences together into paragraphs," Cox said. "But in terms of (his) actual policies towards the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, China, Europe - actually, we don't know."

    In Kenya, home to Obama's family on his father's side, the Kenya Times newspaper devoted its front page to Obama's victory, under the headline "Obama makes history."

    "I've just watched him on television, and as a family we are very happy. Really, it is something that is a trendsetter," the politician's uncle, Said Obama, told The Associated Press from the port city of Kisumu in western Kenya.

    Indonesians were rooting for the man they consider to be a hometown hero. Obama lived in the predominantly Muslim nation from age 6 to 10 with his mother and Indonesian stepfather and was fondly remembered by former teachers and classmates.

    "He was an average student, but very active," said Widianto Hendro Cahyono, 48, who was in the same third-grade class as Obama at SDN Menteng elementary school in Jakarta. "He would play ball during recess until he was dripping with sweat.

    "I never imagined he would become a great man."

    In Mexico City, hairdresser Susan Mendoza's eyes lit up when she learned Obama had clinched the nomination.

    "Bush was for the elite. Obama is of the people," she said.

    The German government's coordinator on U.S. relations, Karsten Voigt, said many Germans "find (Obama's) mixture of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy very attractive."

    In an editorial, the Times newspaper of London said Obama's campaign "has rekindled America's faith in its prodigious powers of reinvention - and the world's admiration for America."

    Obama opposed the invasion of Iraq and has called for an early troop withdrawal. He also has shown willingness to engage in dialogue with Iran, North Korea and Cuba - nations long isolated by the policies of Bush.

    "He seems to be a peace lover," said Ngo Van Hung, a Vietnamese real-estate salesman. "He would have a better understanding of how to treat people of different nationalities and different countries."

    A Chinese scholar said that while he did not expect major changes in U.S. foreign policy, an Obama White House would have a very different tone to a Bush one.

    "He will bring new energy into America's domestic politics and foreign policies," said Zhu Feng, deputy director at the Center of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University in Beijing. "It's a good choice for the Democrats."

    Obama, however, has made himself unpopular in Pakistan by saying the United States should act alone on information about terrorist targets within the country's national borders, leading some to believe he will not be any different from Bush.

    "Obama has threatened attacks against us even before becoming the president, and he will be more dangerous compared to Bush," said Ibrar Ahmad, 34, a lecturer at the Government College in Multan.

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    Associated Press writers around the world contributed to this report.

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 09:03