President-elect Obama accepted congratulations from nine presidents and prime ministers Thursday, returning calls from world leaders who reached out after his presidential victory. The global financial crisis was among the topics Obama discussed with key U.S. allies he'll deal with during his administration.
Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the president-elect spoke to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Sarkozy's office says they spoke for 30 minutes and characterized the discussion as "extremely warm" as the president congratulated Obama on a "brilliant" election victory. The statement said they discussed international issues, particularly the financial crisis, and agreed to meet in the "quite near future."
Harper's office said in a statement that they spoke about an international financial summit in Washington on Nov. 15 and its importance for addressing the global financial crisis. Obama had no plans to attend the meeting.
The prime minister's office says the two leaders emphasized that there could be no closer friends and allies than the United States and Canada and vowed to maintain and further build upon the relationship. Harper's office called it a warm exchange and said they agreed to talk again soon.
Calderon's office said Obama pledged continued U.S. support for Mexico's fight against organized crime and drug trafficking. A statement from the Mexican president's office says Obama told Calderon he was "conscious of the difficulty of the battle" and offered "decisive" U.S. support.
Congress approved $400 million in anti-drug aid for Mexico last June, but has yet to release the money.
In his conversation with Lee, Obama said the U.S.-South Korea alliance is a "cornerstone" of Asia's peace and stability, and promised improved relations between the countries, Seoul's presidential office said.
The United States helped defend South Korea during the Korean war and is its No. 1 ally. About 28,500 American troops are still stationed there to deter threats from communist North Korea.
Brown's Downing Street office says he and Obama spoke about several issues, including reform of the global financial system. Britain's Press Association newswire said the two had a "very friendly and positive" 10-minute conversation, covering topics including the world economy, the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Middle East peace process.
Australia's prime minister Kevin Rudd told reporters in Sydney that he spoke by telephone with Obama Friday to congratulate him on his historic win and discuss the various challenges the lie ahead for the world, chief among them the global financial crisis. The two also talked about the issues of national security and climate change during the 10- to 15-minute conversation, Rudd said.
"It was a good conversation, it was a friendly conversation," Rudd said. "The challenges we face are great....But I believe we have a strong partner in the U.S."
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