World reacts to Bush victory

World leaders say they'll work with whoever wins U.S. elections; Bush allies say they believe he is the best choice.

Foreign reaction to the re-election of U.S. President George W. Bush reflected international reaction to the war in Iraq, with his allies saying the victory means a continued tough stand on terror.

Democratic Sen. John Kerry called Bush shortly before noon on Wednesday to concede the election after a night of close results.

The leaders of countries that support the U.S.-led attack on Iraq said the victory means support for Washington's stand on terrorism.

"The American people have not allowed themselves to be scared and made the decision they considered reasonable," said Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Berlusconi, who also sent troops to Iraq, said a Bush victory allows the United States to continue its role as the "defender and promoter of freedom and democracy."

The conservative government of Australia, one of the first countries to support the U.S. in Iraq, said it looked forward to continuing relations with Bush.

"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," said Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

The leaders of European countries such as France and Germany, who clashed with Bush over the war, said it is important to shift the focus to the future and improve U.S.-European relations.

"We have lots to do on current crises," French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told RTL radio. "This is a new step that starts at a very important moment for the world."

German Interior Minister Otto Schily called the United States "an important partner."

"We had differences over Iraq, but we're not looking back now – we're looking to the future," said Schily.

Other countries weren't as optimistic that four more years of a Bush administration will improve international relations.

Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson predicted increased sniping between Europe and the U.S., while Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said increased co-operation between the two sides of the Atlantic is needed to tackle global issues.

Others were less diplomatic, including Indonesian Muslim leader Syafii Maarif, who said Bush had "made a mess of the world over the last four years."