Washington briefing: Obama, Biden in telephone talks with foreign leaders

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday November 22, 2008

Washington - President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden called a number of "world leaders and expressed thanks and appreciation for their congratulations on the election."

The presidential transition web site www.change.gov reports that on November 6, Mr. Obama took calls from leaders of close U.S. allies Australia, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea. On November 7 he spoke with leaders of Italy, Spain, Poland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and on November 8 with those of Russia and China.

The president-elect phoned Presidents Abdullah Gül of Turkey and Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, as well as the Philippines president on November 17; the presidents of Colombia, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa, and United Nations secretary general on November 18; and the presidents of Argentina, Chile, Kazakhstan, and Palestine, and the Irish Prime Minister, on November 19.

No details of conversations were reported by the president-elect, but Mr. Saakashvili's office reported that "the U.S. President-elect expressed his unconditional support to the territorial integrity of Georgia and focused on the importance of continuation of the ongoing reforms in Georgia [and] U.S. support in this regard."

And according to Mr. Gul's office, Mr. Obama "emphasized the importance of the special relations between the two allies, Turkey and U.S." and backed Turkey's fight against Kurdish rebels.

Other calls to foreign leaders were made by Sen. Biden. On November 10 he telephoned the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who is likely to be the next prime minister, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and opposition leader Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu; Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as well as the presidents of Poland and Afghanistan and, on November 11, the king of Jordan.

And on November 17, Mr. Biden called the European Union's Javier Solana, as well as the presidents of Colombia and Georgia, the prime minister of Spain, and the foreign minister of Greece.

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