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WILMINGTON/LONDON/PARIS: President-elect Joe Biden urged unity on Saturday and promised "a new day for America" in his first national address since he won the tense US election and ended the historically turbulent and divisive era of Donald Trump.
After jogging onto the outdoor stage to the music of Bruce Springsteen in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden delivered a message of hope and healing to a crowd of cheering supporters and tens of millions more on television.
The Democrat’s victory speech followed a desperately bitter election conducted in the midst of a raging coronavirus pandemic. But instead of sounding triumphant, Biden’s accent was more on changing hearts in a country split down the middle between Democrats and Republicans. Promising "not to divide but unify," Biden reached out directly to Trump supporters, declaring "they’re not our enemies, they’re Americans. Let’s give each other a chance," urging the country to "lower the temperature."
"Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end, here and now."
Casting his eye further, Biden said he would "make America respected around the world again" -- a reference to Trump’s tearing up of traditional diplomatic ties. "Tonight, the whole world is watching America and I believe that at our best America is a beacon for the globe," he said.
Addressing the coronavirus, which has killed more than 237,000 Americans under Trump’s erratic leadership, Biden said he would form a task force of "leading scientists" this Monday.
While attendance was limited for social distancing purposes to about 360 cars at the drive-in style event, crowds numbering thousands of people, many of them dancing and waving American flags, lined the highway leading to the facility.
This was Biden’s first public appearance since US television networks declared earlier Saturday that he’d taken an insurmountable lead in the nearly complete count from Tuesday’s election, giving him victory against Trump, who will now become a rare one-term president.
The celebratory event, which featured confetti, fireworks and a soundtrack including Springsteen and Tina Turner, also gave Americans a closer look at Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris, who will make history as the country’s first female and first Black vice president.
In her speech, cheered every few seconds by the ecstatic crowd, Harris lauded the record turnout and said that after so much division, "Joe is a healer." "When our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake, and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America," she said.
Biden, who turns 78 later this month, will be the oldest person to become the president when he takes office on January 20.
Crowds took to the streets in major cities across the US in celebration of Trump’s defeat, while key Western allies such as Germany, which had a tempestuous relationship with the Republican, quickly congratulated Biden.
But Trump -- becoming the first one-term president since George H. W. Bush -- refused to concede and continued to claim he was a victim of fraud.
Biden was "rushing to falsely pose" as the winner, Trump said in a statement as he arrived to play golf at a course he owns in Virginia, his first trip outside the White House since Election Day. There is no evidence to support Trump’s unprecedented claims of mass fraud.
Tuesday’s polling went off without any reported serious incidents or even technical glitches, despite the shadow of a still out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic and volcanic political tensions. With vote-counting nearly complete around the huge country, Biden built up an irreversible lead.
New tallies from the state of Pennsylvania early Saturday put him over the top, ending four days of tense waiting and allowing the TV networks’ specialised data analysts to call the overall result, as they do every election.
In Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington and other majority-Democratic cities, people poured into the streets to celebrate and car horns honked.
An excited crowd of several thousand gathered on Black Lives Matter Plaza next to the White House, giving a hostile reception to Trump as his motorcade passed nearby on return from the golf course. "It’s been so many years waiting for this day to happen," said Jack Nugent, a 24-year-old software engineer.
There were similar scenes in New York, Trump’s birthplace. However, in Arizona, where the race was close, a group of almost 1,000 Trump supporters gathered in Phoenix to protest what they said was a stolen election. "There’s a lot of fraud here. It needs to be either redone totally or recounted," Donna McCollum, 77, said.
For Biden, who got more than 74 million votes, a record, the triumph was the crowning achievement of his half-century in US politics -- including eight years as deputy to Obama, the first Black US president who hailed the "historic and decisive" win.
Biden has vowed to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. He has also promised to restore traditional US diplomacy after Trump’s dramatic pivot to unilateral nationalism.
The leaders of Britain, Germany, France and other European countries were the first, along with Canada, to send congratulations.
Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga sent "warm congratulations," while India’s Premier Narendra Modi also tweeted on Biden’s "spectacular victory."
The head of the NATO military alliance, which reeled from Trump’s disruptive approach after decades of US leadership, also quickly welcomed Biden´s win.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Biden’s victory was a chance for the US to "compensate for its previous mistakes and return to the path of adherence to international commitments".
Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu -- a close Trump ally -- congratulated Biden, calling the president-elect "a great friend of Israel".
There was no immediate reaction from other major nations, including China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Following are reactions from world leaders:
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a tweet, congratulated Biden and vice president-elect, Harris. PM Imran Khan said he looked forward to working with the American president for an end to illegal tax havens and for peace in Afghanistan.
"Congratulations @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris. Look forward to President Elect Biden's Global Summit on Democracy and working with him to end illegal tax havens and stealth (sic) of nation's wealth by corrupt leaders. We will also continue to work with US for peace in Afghanistan and in the region," he tweeted.
"Congratulations President Elect Joe Biden and VP Elect Kamala Harris. Looking forward to an improving US role towards world peace especially in Afghanistan, as well as the entire region. Pakistan looks forward to our continued long term friendship and a dignified relationship," President Alvi said
"Congratulations!" said Chancellor Angela Merkel. "I wish luck and success from the bottom of my heart. "Our transatlantic friendship is irreplaceable if we want to overcome the great challenges of our times," she said in a tweet issued by a government spokesman.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a popular leader who had verbally jousted with Trump, congratulated Biden and Harris in a tweet focused on cooperation.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: "I look forward to working with President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, their administration, and the United States Congress as we tackle the world’s greatest challenges together."
"The Americans have chosen their President. Congratulations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris! We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let's work together," Macron said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wished Biden and Harris "every success".
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Twitter his government looked forward to "working with you and deepening our bonds of friendship and cooperation". "I offer warmest congratulations to Joe Biden on his election as the 46th President of the United States. Ireland takes pride in Joe Biden's election, just as we are proud of all the generations of Irish women and Irish men and their ancestors whose toil and genius have enriched the diversity that powers America."
President Barham Saleh extended "warmest congratulations" to Biden, describing him as "a friend and trusted partner in the cause of building a better Iraq. We look forward to working to achieve our common goals and strengthening peace and stability in the entire Middle East".
The King of Jordan, Abdullah II, tweeted his congratulations to the pair: "I look forward to working with you on further advancing the solid historic partnership between Jordan and the United States, in the interest of our shared objectives of peace, stability and prosperity."
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas called on Biden to "strengthen" relations between the Palestinians and Washington, which collapsed under Trump.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his "warmest congratulations" to Biden and Harris. He said: "The huge turn out is a reflection of the hope placed on democracy."
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong offered congratulations, reminding Biden of their previous work together while he was vice president and stating he hoped the relationship between the two nations would deepen. "You can continue to count on Singapore as a friend and partner," Lee said.
President Muhammadu Buhari, leader of Africa's most populous nation, called for "greater engagement" with the continent. He said he looked forward to "enhanced cooperation between Nigeria and the United States, especially at economic, diplomatic and political levels, including especially on the war against terrorism".
South Korean President Moon Jae-in tweeted: "Congratulations to @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. Our alliance is strong and the bond between our two countries is rock-solid. I very much look forward to working with you for our shared values."
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Biden's win as "spectacular" while highlighting Harris's Indian heritage. "Your success is pathbreaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for your chittis, but also for all Indian-Americans," Modi said in a tweet to Harris.
"Chitti" is a Tamil term of endearment for the younger sisters of one's mother, which Harris used in her acceptance of the Democratic nomination for vice president.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said ties between Kabul and Washington would deepen over counterterrorism as he congratulated Biden. "Afghanistan looks forward to continuing/deepening our multilayered strategic partnership w/ the United States — our foundational partner — including in counterterrorism & bringing peace to Afghanistan," Ghani wrote on Twitter.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Biden "on his election as President of the United States and Kamala Harris on her historic achievement. "The US is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security."
Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted: "Congratulations to US President-Elect @JoeBiden. Joe Biden has been a true friend of Greece and I´m certain that under his presidency the relationship between our countries will grow even stronger."
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tweeted: "We are ready to work with the President-elect @JoeBiden to make the transatlantic relationship stronger. The US can count on Italy as a solid ally and a strategic partner."
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted: "Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. We wish you good luck and all the best. We are looking forward to cooperating with you to tackle the challenges ahead of us."
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Egypt, the most populous Arab country, looked forward to "strengthening strategic bilateral ties between Egypt and the US in the interest of both countries and peoples".
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wished Biden and Harris "every success". "The Australia-US Alliance is deep and enduring, and built on shared values. I look forward to working with you closely as we face the world´s many challenges together," he said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, soon after Democratic candidate Joe Biden was declared winner after a tense US election, New Yorkers took their jubilation to the streets, honking horns in celebration upon realising that the era of Donald Trump was over.
The citizens can be seen hooting, honking horns, and clapping from their rooftops with enchantment in the video after it emerged Biden had won Pennsylvania and ultimately, the election.
"Wow. I turned off the TV and phone to get away for a second then heard cheering in the streets. Brooklyn is ecstatic. Best way to hear the news," one of the users wrote on Twitter. New York can't stop cheering, said the other user as he shared the clip of streets echoing with all kinds of celebratory sounds.
Joe Biden’s win in the election to become the 46th President of the United States on Saturday was celebrated across the country by Democrat supporters, leading to a shortage of champagne in the capital Washington as some stores almost ran out of stock.
It seemed many were ready to toast an end to a tumultuous four years under President Donald Trump.
Calvert and Woodley, known for its selection of wines from around the world, sold up to 75 percent more bottles than a usual Saturday, according to store employees. Store salesman Mark, who did not provide his last name, said hundreds of bottles had been sold. "People want to celebrate," he said. His colleague Janis said, "I bought 20 for myself."
Dressed in a Biden-Harris t-shirt and with a Biden-Harris sign in her hand, Juanita was one of the many customers in search of the bubbly. "I’m so happy. It’s an amazing day for democracy," she said while choosing a bottle.
At Magruder’s, a wine shop in the residential district of Chevy Chase in business since 1845, the shelves were emptied quickly and employees had to fetch reserve cases of champagne. "People buy two or three bottles. It’s very unusual," said a cashier. "People are so happy today."
Malala Yousafzai also congratulated Biden and Kamala Harris on their victory in elections. Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.