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World leaders react to Trump victory with apprehension and applause

November 9, 2016 at 6:35 PM EST
How are world leaders responding to the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president? Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the first to congratulate the winner. But the election left NATO allies nervous, and on Wednesday, alliance leaders made clear they are looking to Trump to maintain a tough line with Putin. Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Now the view from overseas. The election was watched closely, both with anticipation and fear.

And, as chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports, today, the rest of the world awoke to an America profoundly changed.

MARGARET WARNER: The stunning news ricocheted around the world from Tehran to Tokyo, Istanbul to Berlin, met with apprehension by some and applause by others.

In Moscow, the Russian Parliament erupted in cheers at the announcement, and President Vladimir Putin was among the first to congratulate Trump, who had lauded Putin as a strong leader.

Nathan Hodge is a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Moscow. He says there is glee over the divisive U.S. election.

NATHAN HODGE, The Wall Street Journal: It’s a way that, basically, that Russia, which has seen lots of scolding from the United States and the West about the way that it conducts elections and the authoritarian tendencies of its leadership, they can now point to the United States and say, look, you guys, you’re not so great yourselves.

MARGARET WARNER: Russia also left its imprint on the election, with allegations that it engineered the hacking of Democratic Party e-mails to embarrass Hillary Clinton.

All of this has NATO allies nervous. Its member states, especially in Eastern Europe, rely on the U.S. as a counterweight to Moscow and a guarantor of their security. Alliance leaders made clear today they are looking for Trump to maintain a tough line with Putin after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and to abandon his campaign talk of putting conditions on the U.S. commitment to NATO.

The president of Latvia says he’s willing to give the incoming president some time.

PRESIDENT RAIMONDS VEJONIS, Latvia (through translator): Of course, during the campaign, Trump came out with many blunt statements on many issues, but we should remember that it was a pre-election time. Let’s see what the administration of the president will look like.

MARGARET WARNER: But, in France, President Francois Hollande said the result — quote — “opens a period of uncertainty.”

Reaction in nationalist quarters of Europe was exultant.

“NewsHour” special correspondent Malcolm Brabant spoke to us from Copenhagen.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Right-wing leaders across Europe are basically seeing the Trump victory as a validation of their policies. You have got people like Marine Le Pen, who is the leader of the French National Front, she’s going into a presidential election in six months’ time.

The latest polls give her about 30 percent of the vote, and she will see what happened in America as being encouragement for French voters, saying, if it can happen in the United States, why can’t it happen here?

MARGARET WARNER: That nationalism already triumphed in Britain. British Prime Minister Theresa May says her nation’s special relationship with the U.S. remains.

But she came to office last summer after British citizens voted for Brexit to abandon the European Union. Trump embraced the move, calling himself Mr. Brexit at one point.

Also in question is America’s participation in the Paris climate accord. Trump has called climate change a hoax, and while it would take four years to formally pull out of the agreement, there are no sanctions in place for ignoring it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she watched the U.S. election results — quote — “with trepidation,” but that she will work with Trump. Trump has called Merkel insane for taking in a large number of refugees.

The center of that refugee crisis remains in Syria, now in its sixth year of civil war. People in Aleppo, locus of the fighting now, say their low hopes for U.S. protection remain the same.

WISSAM ZARQA, Aleppo: We are trying to look at the bright side. Trump has no promises at all for the Syrian people. Before, we had empty promises. So, now it would make us maybe more realistic.

MARGARET WARNER: Elsewhere in the Middle East, there’s unease over Trump’s campaign calls to ban many Muslims from entering the U.S. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was one the first world leaders to telephone congratulations overnight, but others in Egypt struck a different tone.

MAN: He hate Muslims, whether he admits it or not. He’s afraid of Arabs.

MARGARET WARNER: On the other hand Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Trump today, calling him a great friend of Israel.

His education minister put it more plainly, saying Trump’s victory means — quote — “the era of the Palestinian state is over.”

The Israeli government sharply opposed the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran, and Trump has suggested he will try to renegotiate the lifting of sanctions it provided.

Borzou Daragahi, Middle East correspondent for BuzzFeed in Istanbul, said that will be difficult.

BORZOU DARAGAHI, BuzzFeed News: The U.S. could, in theory, ramp up unilateral sanctions, but it never really ramped them down, except for the ones that were kind of imposed by the executive. The ones that are by Congress are still in place and remain in place.

MARGARET WARNER: The president-elect also wants to revisit major trade deals, such as the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has yet to be ratified.

China’s President Xi Jinping telephoned Trump himself today, voicing hope for — quote — “non-conflict and non-confrontation.” U.S. tensions with Beijing have ratcheted up over China’s aggressive moves in the contested waters of the South China Sea.

Gillian Tett, the U.S. managing editor for The Financial Times in New York, spoke of the Chinese reaction.

GILLIAN TETT, Financial Times: There is certainly a lot of questioning and a lot of concern. There has also been a series of comments from China about the fact that this makes American democracy look rather peculiar at best.

MARGARET WARNER: Closer to home, Trump’s victory was met with alarm in Mexico City, given his talk of building a border wall and making Mexico pay for it.

The Mexican peso crashed overnight, hitting levels not seen for more than 20 years.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Margaret Warner.

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