- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2004

SYDNEY, Australia — American allies in Asia hailed the re-election of President Bush as a victory for the global war on terror and expressed hope that his second term would help defuse nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Others in the region feared that another Bush term could lead to more global turmoil.

“It’s a victory for the anti-terrorism cause,” Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch U.S. ally and friend of Mr. Bush, told reporters in Sydney yesterday. “This is a strong reaffirmation of his leadership of the United States in its fight against world terrorism.”

Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terror, also welcomed the re-election, but Information Minister Sheik Rashid Ahmed said he hoped that the world’s Muslims, including Palestinians and Kashmiris, would fare better under the policies of Mr. Bush’s second term.

“Muslims were hurt by some of his policies [in his first term], but I hope he will take them along in his upcoming term,” he said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, chairman of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, said he was looking forward to hearing new policies from Mr. Bush.

“If there will be new approaches in issues such as Iraq and Palestine, I hope that Bush will consider the opinions of world leaders and other organizations,” he said.

In Seoul, the government said it would continue to “closely cooperate” with Mr. Bush for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear dispute with North Korea.

Three rounds of talks on curbing the North’s nuclear ambitions yielded no breakthroughs, and Pyongyang has rejected a scheduled fourth round. Observers speculated that North Korea was holding out hope for a victory by Sen. John Kerry, who expressed support for bilateral talks favored by Pyongyang.

South Korean officials said yesterday they think North Korea now will return to the six-nation talks among the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia.

“North Korea will consider it has to continue to deal with the Bush administration, and there is a possibility that it will respond to the talks,” South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

North Korea did not comment on Mr. Bush’s re-election.

Stock markets in Japan, New Zealand and Australia rose yesterday, as did their currencies against the U.S. dollar, which slipped on fears that a second Bush term will do little to wind back the American budget deficit.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he hoped Mr. Bush’s win would bring closer ties between Tokyo and Washington.

“The Japan-U.S. alliance is the basis for this country’s security as well as peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

On a personal note, Mr. Koizumi said he admired Mr. Bush’s ability to face down critics.

“He withstood that much criticism from the world and a great deal of criticism from the domestic media,” Mr. Koizumi said. “It’s impressive. I’ll have to learn from him.”

Chinese President Hu Jintao said Beijing looked forward to promoting “constructive cooperative relations” with Washington.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sent a letter of congratulations to Mr. Bush, saying: “Your re-election comes at an important juncture when American leadership and international solidarity must be put at the service of securing greater global peace, security and prosperity.”

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which has been hit by a string of deadly attacks by al Qaeda-linked terrorists in recent years, pledged to work closely with Mr. Bush in the fight against terrorism.

“As countries that have fallen victims to terrorism, the United States and Indonesia are only too painfully aware of what is at stake,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said.

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