- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Donald Trump got a host of congratulatory messages from authoritarian regimes around the globe Wednesday — from Egypt to Turkey and China — but some of the warmest words came from Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who appeared eager to seize on perceptions that Mr. Trump wants to repair U.S.-Russia relations strained during the Obama years.

“We heard the campaign statements of the future U.S. presidential candidate about the restoration of relations,” Mr. Putin said. “It is not an easy path, but we are ready to do our part.”

The Kremlin said Mr. Putin also sent Mr. Trump a telegram of congratulation, expressing “his hope to work together for removing Russian-American relations from their crisis state.”

“It is not our fault that Russian-American relations are in such a state,” Mr. Putin was quoted as saying, in apparent reference to ongoing clashes with the Obama administration over Russia’s role in conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and accusations that Russia is behind cyberattacks that undermined Mr. Trump’s opponent in the presidential race.

Mr. Putin’s comments came as a kind of icing on the cake in a day of varied reactions to the Trump victory around the world.

Most official responses were positive. But anxiety was also clearly palpable behind the scenes over the defeat of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — a figure respected across much of the world’s diplomatic landscapes.

The initial shock of Tuesday night’s result sent global financial markets tumbling as investors panicked that a Trump win might trigger a flood of economic and global uncertainty.

While markets had leveled by mid-day Wednesday, another kind of unease bubbled to the surface, most notably in Western Europe, where fears of Russian aggression remain high and nerves are still frayed over bombastic statements Mr. Trump made on the campaign trail.

French President Francois Hollande was quoted as saying Mr. Trump’s victory will open “a period of uncertainty,” while former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt suggested the recent “Brexit” vote had dovetailed with Mr. Trump’s victory in a shocking show of isolationist nationalism in the Western world.

“After the double disaster for the West many things will have to be rethought,” Mr. Bildt tweeted. “The world is entering uncharted territory. Fast[en] seat belts.”

“The world won’t end, but things will get more crazy,” Justice Minister Heiko Maas added in a tweet from Germany, where Defense Minister Usula von der Leyen described a “big shock” at Mr. Trump’s win and voiced concern over the U.S. president-elect’s promises to re-evaluate America’s commitment to NATO.

At one point during the campaign, Mr. Trump called the world’s biggest military alliance “obsolete” and said that if a NATO ally were attacked, he would have to examine whether it had sufficiently paid its dues before determining how the U.S. would respond.

“Of course we Europeans, as a NATO ally, know that if Donald Trump becomes president, he’ll ask: What are you contributing to this alliance?” Ms. von der Leyen told Reuters. “But we’re also wondering, what’s [Mr. Trump’s] position on this alliance?”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters the U.S. campaign had been fraught with “confrontations that were difficult to bear.”

Ms. Merkel went on to express guarded hope toward working with Mr. Trump on shared trans-Atlantic values that she said include respect for human dignity regardless of people’s origin, gender or religion. “On the basis of these values, I am offering the future president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, close cooperation,” she said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg seemed more optimistic, saying he looks forward to working with Mr. Trump at next spring’s NATO summit in Brussels.

“It is important that the trans-Atlantic bond remains strong,” Mr. Stoltenberg said, adding that “U.S. leadership is as important as ever.”

In China, where Mr. Trump has for months been seen to be more popular than Hillary Clinton, President Xi Jingping expressed hope U.S.-China ties might grow rather than be damaged by the Trump victory.

Mr. Trump made repeated promises on the campaign trail to knuckle down with an aggressive new trade posture toward China. But Chinese media quoted Mr. Xi on Wednesday as saying he’s “looking forward to working together with [Mr. Trump] to expand China-U.S. cooperation in every field.”

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto also expressed such hope. While he was among the harshest of Mr. Trump’s critics ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Mr. Pena Nieto focused a flurry of tweets Wednesday on the U.S.-Mexico friendship, saying both nations “should continue working for the competitiveness and the development of North America.”

His words came as the Mexican peso fought back from its biggest single-day plummet in 22 years on fears Mr. Trump will stick to a campaign pledge to rewrite or trash the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Mr. Trump argues the agreement has unfairly favored Mexico since taking effect 22 years ago and proposes blocking billions of dollars in remittances sent home by Mexicans working in the U.S. and to make Mexico pay for what he has promised will be a “Great Wall of Trump” along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mr. Pena Nieto has publicly dismissed the idea of a wall — and of Mexico paying for it. But the Mexican president seemed less than eager to delve into the matter Wednesday. “I am confident that Mexico and the U.S. will continue to tighten ties of cooperation and mutual respect,” he tweeted.

Reactions were mixed in other parts of Latin America, most notably in Cuba, where worries are reportedly high that Mr. Trump is bent on reversing the Obama administration’s 2-year-old detente with the communist island nation.

In a surprise move Wednesday, Havana announced the launch of five days of nationwide military exercises to prepare troops to confront what the government called “a range of actions by the enemy,” using terminology that almost always refers to Washington.

Cuban officials did not tie the exercises to the Trump win, but the announcement came nearly simultaneously to the win by Mr. Trump, who has promised to reverse Mr. Obama’s opening with Cuba unless President Raul Castro loosens political repression on the island.

Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi of Egypt made headlines from the Middle East, meanwhile, by putting in personal phone calls to congratulate Mr. Trump Wednesday.

Both also expressed desires for improved relations with Washington — particularly in the evolving campaign to battle to contain groups like the Islamic State.

Mr. el-Sissi extended an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit Cairo and said he hopes to see more “cooperation and coordination” between the U.S. and Egypt, which presently receives more than $1 billion annually in American military and economic aid.

Mr. Erdogan had a similarly positive call with Mr. Trump, discussing how the two might improve relations strained over the Turkish president’s ongoing claim that reclusive U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen orchestrated last July’s failed coup in Ankara.

The Obama administration’s reluctance to extradite the 75-year-old Mr. Gulen has frustrated the Erdogan government in Turkey, a NATO member that borders Syria, Iraq and Iran, and is widely regarded as a powerful player in the Middle East.

In what the Turkish presidential sources described as a “sincere” conversation, Mr. Erdogan congratulated Mr. Trump and stressed how Ankara and Washington are allies brought together by mutual respect, common interests and values.

Outspoken Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte also congratulated Mr. Trump, saying Wednesday he looks forward to working with the president-elect.

Mr. Duterte, who took office in June, has an uneasy relationship with the Obama administration and has been called the “Filipino Donald Trump” for a string of bombastic recent statements, and has called for a scaling back of joint military drills with the United States.

He’s lashed out at President Obama specifically over White House criticism of potential human rights abuses being committed by Filipino authorities as part of an aggressive and ongoing anti-drug crackdown in The Philippines.

Among the more cautious of Wednesday’s reactions came from Iran, where Iranian President Hassand Rouhani was quoted as saying Mr. Trump’s win won’t change Tehran’s posture toward the world, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Mr. Trump will be under pressure to comply with the nuclear deal the Obama administration and other powers inked with Iran last year.

During his campaign Mr. Trump lambasted the deal that reduced Iranian nuclear stockpiles in exchange for international sanctions relief. He has on repeated occasion called it a “horrible contract.”

But his campaign has stopped short of saying a President Trump would try to totally repeal the agreement. Trump adviser Walid Phares told The Daily Caller News Foundation in July that Mr. Trump was “not going to get rid of an agreement that has the institutional signature of the United States.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Guy Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@washingtontimes.com.

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