World reacts cautiously to Ahmadinejad's re-election
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Iraq's government said it hoped the Iranian leader will seek reconciliation with other countries to promote peace in the region. Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iraq is ready to help build friendly relations based on mutual interests. Iraq's Shiite-led government faces a delicate balancing act in maintaining close ties to both the U.S. and Iran.Skip to next paragraph
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"We hope that the new term of the Iranian president will begin a period of reconciliation with all countries that have no friendly relations with it," al-Dabbagh said Saturday in a clear reference to the U.S.
Dawood al-Shirian, a prominent Saudi columnist, said Ahmadinejad's victory was no surprise. "This reminds me of (George W.) Bush's second victory at the polls," he said. "The Iranians feel they are under regional and international threat and therefore they do not want change at this time."
"Plus their nuclear program is a source of pride for them and they believe that Ahmadinejad is the one who won't deprive them of it," he added.
Al-Shirian said Ahmadinejad's win "won't necessarily be a bad thing" for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf. "There are open channels with Ahmadinejad. They know him, and it's better to deal with someone they know," said al-Shirian.
And Obama's conciliatory new approach could soften Ahmadinejad's defiance. "Ahmadinejad cannot continue on the same belligerent path," he said. "There will be a change in language and approach."
Mousavi, Ahmadinejad's opponent, had advocated closer Iranian ties to the U.S. Perhaps not surprisingly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- a frequent critic of U.S. foreign policy -- rushed to declare his support for the incumbent. "In President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad we have one of the greatest allies on this earth," Chavez said at an oil summit in the Caribbean.
Syrian President Bashar Assad congratulated Ahmadinejad and "expressed his confidence in continuing friendly relations and strengthening cooperation," Syria's official news agency SANA reported.
Associated Press Writers Diaa Hadid in Jerusalem, Rachel Jones in Caracas, Venezuela, Robert H. Reid in Baghdad, Donna Abu-Nasr in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Nancy Zuckerbrod in London contributed to this report.