- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PARIS — An outpouring of international support for President-elect Barack Obama promised to make the inauguration a global event, with the excitement of celebration tinged with uncertainty over crises faced by the incoming U.S. leader.

In Paris, French President Nicholas Sarokzy sent a congratulatory message to Mr. Obama and then told reporters, “We are eager for him to get to work so that with him we can change the world.”

From German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the message was “the best of luck,” tempered with a warnings to the incoming U.S. president not to count on additional German troops for Afghanistan beyond the 4,500 already in place or promised.

Mr. Obama inherits a global economic crisis, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and expectations that his administration will negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In Gaza, where more than 1,200 died in a 22-day Israeli military assault, Palestinians mourned the dead.

“Obama won’t bring my husband back to life,” said Leila Khalil, a mother of six who was widowed in the fighting.

“He was martyred and left me with six children to feed on my own. And Obama won’t repair our house that was damaged in the raids,” Mrs. Khalil told Agence France-Presse.

In Israel, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I took away the impression that Barack Obama understood our distress very well, as well as the cruelty of the enemies we face.”

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave a dour warning to the incoming U.S. administration.

“Mr. Obama looks like a sincere, open person,” Mr. Putin said, but he warned, “I am deeply convinced that the biggest disappointments are born out of big expectations.”

China sought stronger ties between U.S. military officers and its emerging military.

“In this new period we hope that both China and the U.S. could make joint efforts to create favorable conditions and improve and promote military-to-military relations,” Defense Ministry spokesman Hu Changming told reporters in Beijing.

International polls have shown huge public support in tune with the mood of celebration on Washington’s National Mall, where millions are gathering for Tuesday’s swearing-in.

A BBC poll of people in 17 countries found that, on average, two-thirds believe Mr. Obama will improve the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world.

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