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'Tyrant's era has come to an end': World leaders welcome Biden presidency with parting shots at Trump

Leaders in Iran, Israel and European Union react to transfer of power in Washington, DC
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on 20 January 2021.
Joe Biden is sworn in as 46th president of United States on 20 January (AFP)

Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, following his election victory over Donald Trump last year.

Several world leaders reacted to Biden's inauguration by offering congratulations - and in some cases pleading for the reversal of his predecessor's policies.

Here's what some have said so far:

China

Beijing expressed hope that Biden would "look at China rationally and objectively" to repair "serious damage" in bilateral ties caused by the Trump presidency.

"In the past four years, the US administration has made fundamental mistakes in its strategic perception of China... interfering in China's internal affairs, suppressing and smearing China, and causing serious damage to China-US relations," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday.

"If the new US administration can adopt a more rational and responsible attitude in formulating its foreign policy, I think it will be warmly welcomed by everyone in the international community," she added.

European Union

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said "after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House", leaving little uncertainty over her assessment of Trump's relationship with the 27-nation bloc.

Von der Leyen said Biden's inauguration would "be a message of healing for a deeply divided nation and it will be a message of hope for a world that is waiting for the US to be back in the circle of like-minded states".

"This new dawn in America is the moment we've been waiting for so long. Europe is ready for a new start with our oldest and most trusted partner," she said.

Iran

President Hassan Rouhani hailed the departure of "tyrant" Trump, who in 2018 reimposed punishing sanctions against Iran following Washington’s unilateral decision to withdraw from a landmark nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers in 2015.

A "tyrant's era came to an end and today is the final day of his ominous reign", Rouhani said.

"We expect [the Biden administration] to return to law and to commitments, and try in the next four years, if they can, to remove the stains of the past four years."

Biden has expressed a desire to return to the nuclear deal, writing for CNN in September that Trump had "recklessly tossed away a policy that was working to keep America safe and replaced it with one that has worsened the threat".

"I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy," the then-candidate wrote. "If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations."

Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Biden to "strengthen" a long-standing alliance between the two countries, partly in order to confront the "threat" posed by Iran.

"I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the US-Israel alliance, to continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran," Netanyahu said in a video congratulating Biden.

Nato

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Biden's inauguration as "the start of a new chapter for the transatlantic Alliance", and pressed the need for allies to stand together to counter China and the threat of terrorism.

"US leadership remains essential as we work together to protect our democracies, our values and the rules-based international order," he said.

"Nato allies need to stand together to address the security consequences of the rise of China, the threat of terrorism, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a more assertive Russia.

Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Twitter that he hoped to work with Biden "in building a stronger Pak-US partnership".

"I congratulate President Joe Biden on his inauguration. Look forward to working with @POTUS in building a stronger Pak-US partnership through trade & economic engagement, countering climate change, improving public health, combating corruption & promoting peace in region & beyond," he said.

Palestine

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Biden and Harris and affirmed his readiness for "a comprehensive and just peace process that would achieve the aspirations of the Palestinian people in freedom and independence."

"We look forward to working together for peace and stability in the region and the world," Abbas said in his letter to Biden, the Palestinian official news agency WAFA reported.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: "There are no regrets at the departure of Trump, as he has been the biggest source and sponsor of injustice, violence and extremism in the world and the direct partner of the Israeli occupation in the aggression against our people."

"US President Joe Biden must reverse the course of misguided and unjust policies against our people and lay the foundations for security and stability in the region."

Russia

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would seek "good relations with the United States", but whether or not the latter works towards the same goal will "depend on Mr Biden and his team".

Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had "consistently" advocated for the preservation of a landmark nuclear weapons treaty and it was now up to Washington to preserve the pact.