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What Obama’s election means abroad

Barack Obama’s victory was met with euphoria in many nations by those who see him as restoring their faith in American ideals.

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In Tokyo, “many people feel relieved” by Obama’s victory, says Minoru Morita, a political analyst. “It proves the soundness of America. Many Japanese believe Obama will work with other world leaders to put the world on the right track.”

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Skepticism in Iraq and Latin America

While change may be welcome in some quarters, Obama is met with skepticism in parts of the Arab world.

Rahim Sabri, owner of a popular breakfast restaurant in Baghdad, waves off Obama’s promise to end the war in Iraq. “Obama is also the face of the occupier,” he says. “US troops ... are at a crossroads: Either withdraw or stay forever.”

But some Iraqis see Obama as a symbol of change that will affect them. “Obama is different. This time I am optimistic,” says Jassim Attiya, a high school physics teacher. “We are fed up with colonial white faces; people want to end the US presence in Iraq.”

Many Mexicans worry that Obama has said he’d reconsider negotiating parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Still, “Obama winning means there is a real alternation in power,” says Dan Lund, an American pollster based in Mexico City. “They are fascinated by this.”

In Venezuela, residents there say they see parallels between the first black president in the US and their own president, Hugo Chávez, who represented a change from the old power elite.

In Bolivia, now governed by its first indigenous president, people see a similar parallel, says Eduardo Gamarra, a political scientist at Florida International University: “Bolivians and especially those who favor Evo Morales are looking at Obama with some expectations there.”

Contributing to this story: Zhang Yajun from Beijing; Caryle Murphy from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Scott Peterson from Baghdad; Robert Marquand from Paris; Fred Weir from Moscow; Nachammai Raman from Montreal; Sara Miller Llana from Mexico City; Heba Aly from Khartoum, Sudan; Rob Crilly from Nairobi, Kenya; Mark Sappenfield from New Delhi; Peter Ford from Obama, Japan, and Takehiko Kambayashi in Tokyo.

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