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World Leaders Congratulate President-elect Obama


People across the globe are celebrating Democrat Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential election. Some world leaders have congratulated Mr. Obama on his historic win, while highlighting some of the global challenges he will face. Leta Hong Fincher has more.

Kenyans celebrated and their government declared Thursday a national holiday in honor of Barack Obama's election victory. Mr. Obama's father was Kenyan and many see the president-elect's triumph as their own.

"We give thanks to all the American people," Rasbi Gud said. "We love you, we love you man."

The mood in many other countries was also upbeat.

From Palestinians in the occupied West Bank... "He stated clearly that he is against war and the man seeks peace!," Maha Ibrahim exclaimed.

...To Beijing, China. "Obama! He is going to improve the economy," Wan Guocheng said.

In Washington, President George Bush congratulated Mr. Obama on Wednesday. He said Americans can be proud of making history. "They showed a watching world the vitality of America's democracy," Mr. Bush said. "And the strides we have made toward a more perfect union."

In Europe, news of Mr. Obama's victory made headlines in major newspapers.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown praised Mr. Obama as a true friend of Britain. "This is a moment that will live in history," Mr. Brown said, "As long as history books are written."

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev criticized U.S. policies. But he said he expects to develop a constructive dialogue with Mr. Obama. "We do not have problems with the American people," Mr. Medvedev said. "We do not have innate anti-Americanism."

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai praised Mr. Obama's election. "I applaud the American people for their courage," Mr. Karzai said. "And for the great morality that they showed."

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said Mr. Obama's victory brings hope for peace in the Middle East. "The mantra of president-elect Obama is to change, change; that's what we all need, change in the direction of the foreign policy," Mr. Moussa said.

But some Israelis were skeptical about the change Mr. Obama would bring. Many favored John McCain as a stronger supporter of their state.

"If he's like any other politician, we should be a little bit scared and a little bit hopeful for the future," one Israeli commented.

Mr. Obama has already begun working on the transition to the White House. He is expected to announce his choice for Secretary of State within weeks.