Wednesday January 19, 2022

A ‘tyrant’s era came to an end: Hassan Rouhani: World leaders welcome US transfer of power

By Agencies
January 21, 2021

World leaders said they were looking forward to Wednesday’s transfer of power in the United States, where Democrat Joe Biden will be sworn in as president after four turbulent years under Donald Trump.

Top EU officials voiced relief that they would soon have a friend in the White House again. "Let’s build a new founding pact for a stronger Europe, for a stronger America and for a better world," said Charles Michel, president of the European Council.

"This time-honoured ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol will be a demonstration of the resilience of American democracy," added European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. "And the resounding proof that, once again, after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House."

President Hassan Rouhani did not miss the opportunity to hail the departure of "tyrant" Trump, with Tehran repeatedly calling on Washington to lift sanctions imposed over its nuclear drive. Biden’s administration wants the United States back in the landmark Iran nuclear accord which Trump withdrew from, conditional on Tehran’s return to strict compliance.

A "tyrant’s era came to an end and today is the final day of his ominous reign," Rouhani said. "We expect (the Biden administration) to return to law and to commitments, and try in the next four years, if they can, to remove the stains of the past four years."

Nato said it hoped to boost transatlantic ties under Biden. "We look forward to working with President-elect @JoeBiden to further strengthen ties between the #UnitedStates & #Europe, as we face global challenges none of us can tackle alone," the military alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia will seek "good relations with the United States," but whether or not Washington works toward the same goal will "depend on Mr. Biden and his team".

Despite disagreements surrounding conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as US election meddling and hacking allegations against Russia, the countries will be in a race to extend a landmark nuclear weapons accord shortly after Biden is sworn in.

The 2010 New START treaty -- the last remaining nuclear pact between the countries -- limits both sides to 1,500 nuclear warheads each and is set to expire February 5.

Peskov said President Vladimir Putin has "consistently" advocated for the preservation of the treaty and it was now up to Washington to preserve the pact.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, said he is "greatly relieved" that Biden was replacing Trump as US president.

America’s institutions had proven their strength in the face of "great tests" and "hostility" during Trump’s term, he added, calling it a "good day for democracy".

Germany looked forward "to knowing we again have the US at our side as an indispensable partner" in addressing "the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, security issues, arms control and disarmament, and many urgent conflicts around the world".

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Biden’s commitments to rejoin the World Health Organization, which leads the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Paris climate treaty are "extremely important" following Trump’s exit from them. "We are impatient to build with President Biden a strong, useful and renewed relationship," Attal said after a cabinet meeting. "We have aims and colossal challenges to take together." The spokesman for Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said "Biden’s victory represents the victory of democracy over the extreme right".

"Five years ago we believed without doubt that Trump was a bad joke. Five years later, we realise that he endangered the world’s most powerful democracy."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was looking forward to "working closely" with Biden. Johnson, who has faced criticism over his close relationship with Trump, cited a host of policy areas in which he hoped to collaborate with Biden.

"In our fight against Covid and across climate change, defence, security and in promoting and defending democracy, our goals are the same and our nations will work hand in hand to achieve them," he said.

Meanwhile, US President-elect Joe Biden attended a mass at St Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, DC on Wednesday morning, accompanied by Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress in a symbol of unity ahead of his inauguration.

The future 46th President of the United States was accompanied by his wife Jill Biden, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and House leader Kevin McCarthy.

Violinist Patricia Treacy, soprano Rene Fleming and the St. Augustine Gospel Choir were to perform during the mass.

McCarthy and McConnell, long loyal allies of the Republican billionaire, had harsh words for him after the Capitol attack.

McCarthy said Trump "bears responsibility" for inciting the riot and should have immediately denounced the crowd when he saw what was happening -- but added that he thought impeachment was a "mistake," and voted against it. McConnell, in a resounding break with Trump, did not rule out finding the president guilty at the Senate trial.

In a related development, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Wednesday called for Russia and the United States to repair their strained relations, hours before President-elect Joe Biden was to enter the White House. Tensions have soared between Moscow and Washington under US President Donald Trump, fuelled by fresh allegations of sweeping cyber-attacks among a litany of other disagreements on the world stage.