World Leaders Quick to Press Obama on Foreign Policy

Many in the world are ready and eager for change which was promised by Barack Obama and validated by the Amerian voter.  Now world leadersd have lots of ideas for Mr. Obama on what change means to them….

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivers a speech in Cannes, ...
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivers a speech in Cannes, southern France, during a meeting gathering business people, ahead of a Russia-EU summit in nearby Nice on November 14.(AFP/Valery Hache)

By Helene Cooper
The New York Times

The Russians want him to hold off installation of a missile defense shield in Poland. The Europeans want him to renounce the idea of “regime change” when it comes to Iran, while the Israelis want to be sure he doesn’t give Iran a pass when it comes to nuclear weapons.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Taliban, which issued a statement this week urging him to “put an end to all the policies being followed by his Opposition Party, the Republicans, and pull out U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.”

There’s a world of advice out there for President-elect Barack Obama. Within minutes of his election on Nov. 4, the calls from foreign governments began, Obama aides say, and they haven’t stopped.

While the first telephone exchanges between Mr. Obama and foreign leaders were limited to pledges of future cooperation and invitations to visit, those leaders and their underlings have also been contacting Mr. Obama’s advisers and their surrogates with suggestions for how an Obama administration should conduct, and change, American foreign policy.

There are also signs that some foreign governments are moving to alter the playing field even before Mr. Obama takes office. On Wednesday alone, North Korea said it would not allow outside inspectors to take soil samples from its main nuclear complex; Iran successfully tested a new long-range missile reportedly capable of reaching southeastern Europe; and Russia rejected an American proposal meant to assuage Russian fears over the planned missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The foreign bombardment is normal during any presidential transition, but is accelerated in this case, foreign policy experts said, because of the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s election and the sharply different course that world leaders expect him to pursue in American foreign policy.

“We have heard a lot of important ideas from our friends and allies,” said Denis McDonough, a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Obama. “We consider them closely in an effort to be a partner that listens, as the President-elect shapes his agenda to advance U.S. interests from his first day in office.” But until Inauguration Day, Mr. McDonough said, the Obama team will be in a listen-only mode.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy speaks at the Elysee Palace ...
French President Nicolas Sarkozy speaks at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday that Russia and the European Union will “speak with one voice” on the financial crisis at a summit this weekend, on the eve of crunch talks with EU leaders.(AFP/Pool/Gerard Cerles)

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