PARIS (AP) — European allies alienated by President
Bush’s first four years in power offered Wednesday to let
bygones be bygones, saying they want to work with the new
administration and seeking, right from Day 1, to get the new White
House to listen more to overseas opinion.

French President Jacques Chirac, in a congratulatory letter,
said he hoped Bush’s second term “will be the occasion
for strengthening the French-American friendship.”

“We will be unable to find satisfying responses to the
numerous challenges that confront us today without a close
trans-Atlantic partnership,” wrote Chirac. He addressed the
letter to “Dear George.”

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who also clashed with Bush
over Iraq, wrote the president a congratulatory letter expressing
“great expectations” for renewed cooperation.

“The world stands before great challenges at the beginning
of your second term: international terrorism, the danger of weapons
of mass destruction, regional crises — but also poverty,
climate change and epidemics threaten our security and
stability,” Schroeder wrote. “These challenges can only
be mastered together.”

Another critic of the Iraq war, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis
Rodriguez Zapatero, said his government wants “a relationship
of efficient, constructive cooperation with the U.S. government and
with President Bush, respecting the ideas of each side.”

Zapatero, who angered Washington by withdrawing Spanish troops
from Iraq, stayed up most of the night to watch as Republican red
crept across the U.S. electoral map.

Election interest in Europe was intense, as was the
disappointment many felt over Bush’s victory. Some saw it as
proof that Europe and the United States are further apart than
ever.

“There is a major and lasting lack of understanding
between the American people and the rest of the world, in both
directions,” said Hubert Vedrine, a former French foreign
minister. “Almost all nations, with perhaps three or four
exceptions, wanted change.”

Others worried that Bush, strengthened by a bigger win than in
2000 and backed by a Republican Congress, would turn a deaf ear to
world concerns.

“Europe will continue to criticize Bush the same way as
earlier,” said Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson.
“But I do not believe that he will be more willing to
listen.”

Bush allies in the war on terror took comfort in continuity.

“From our point of view, the Bush administration is a
known quantity,” said Australian Foreign Minister Alexander
Downer. “We’ve had a very good relationship with them
for the last four years and I’m sure we’ll be able to
keep building on that over the next four.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said a Bush victory would mean
the American people had not given in to terrorist threats.

“I would feel happy that the American people have not
allowed themselves to be scared and made the decision they
considered reasonable,” Putin said at a Kremlin news
conference after talks with Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi.

“Bush will keep up that policy that gives the United
States the role of promoting freedom in the world,”
Berlusconi said.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged to work with Bush in
the war on terrorism and in revitalizing the Middle East peace
process, and called on Europe and the United States to “build
anew their alliance” after strains created by the Iraq
war.

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