World waits to see how Bush will handle global issues
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As George W. Bush prepares to assume the U.S.
presidency, many of the world's nations are watching
nervously for clues about how he might change America's
Although several leaders have said publicly that
they look forward to good relations with Bush and the United
States, some nonetheless are concerned about the perception -- whether accurate or not -- that the president-elect has a
lack of experience with and knowledge of the world beyond
Some also are concerned about statements Bush made on
international policy during his presidential campaign, which
they believe could strain relations if put into practice.
Peacekeepers and missile defense
For example, members of NATO, along with Russia, are
worried about suggestions that Bush might pull U.S.
peacekeeping troops out of the Balkans, and try to implement
a space-based missile defense system. Russia's leadership, in
particular, has said that going ahead with such a missile
program would violate a 1972 ballistic missile treaty and
plunge the United States and Russia once again into an
expensive, dangerous arms race.
The missile issue also raises concern in China, where
leaders fear that Bush might use a missile defense system to
thwart the Communist mainland from asserting control over
Taiwan. Chinese leaders will be watching the new
administration carefully, as well, for any sign that it might sell arms to Taiwan. China considers Taiwan to be a renegade province and has threatened military action against the island if it declares itself an independent nation.
Other key issues in U.S.-China relations that Bush will
likely have to approach include China's expected entry into
the World Trade Organization and the sensitive subject of
human rights. The United States has long been critical of how
China deals with political dissidents and has based U.S.
policy in large part on demands that China give its citizens
more freedom. But China views the U.S. demands as
unjustifiable interference in its internal affairs.
Elsewhere in Asia, Bush faces important strategic issues. India's relationship with Pakistan, and an ongoing dispute over the Kashmir region have brought the two countries into conflict in the past. India's military and economic clout add to its importance in U.S. international policy. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. Analysts will try to gain a better understanding of Bush's position on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which he is said to oppose.
Middle East: Continuity or change?
In the Middle East, Israel is counting on Bush to continue
the strong U.S. support that the Jewish state has had for
decades. The Palestinians, however, want him to reassess
American policy in the hope that they'll get more favorable
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who faces an uphill
election contest of his own in February, responded to the
final result of the U.S. presidential election by saying that
"similar values and joint interests" have long characterized
"I'm confident that President-elect Bush, whom I know and
respect, will continue together with us in consolidating
these ties," Barak said.
But Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi said she expects
the United States, under the Bush administration, to conduct
"a real assessment of where they went wrong" in the Mideast
Palestinians believe that America's credibility and
interests in the region have been severely damaged because
its approach to the peace process has been one-sided in favor
of Israel, Ashrawi said.
While they expect U.S. support for Israel to continue, Ashrawi said Palestinians hope for greater understanding, and realization of their shared interests with Americans.
Mexico's Fox eager for meeting
Another nation hopeful for better relations with the United
States is Mexico, which shares one of the world's longest
borders -- and a troubled history -- with its neighbor to the
Mexico's government on Thursday officially called for closer
ties and its new president, Vicente Fox, hopes to have a one-
on-one meeting with Bush within the next several weeks at his
ranch near the town of San Cristobal to discuss the three
issues that dominate relations between the two countries:
Immigration, drug trafficking and trade.
Jorge Castaneda, Mexico's foreign minister, said Fox wants
such a meeting "to establish a new era in U.S.-Mexico
Fox also wants to expand trade between the United States and
Mexico, and some observers believe that's likely to happen
with Bush as president.
"I think in the case of a Republican administration the
emphasis will be more on the topic of commerce and investment
than the environment or labor issues," political analyst
Reynaldo Ortega told CNN.
CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour in
London, Jerusalem Bureau Chief Mike Hanna in Moscow,
Correspondents Lisa Rose Weaver in Beijing and Jerrold Kessel
in Jerusalem, and Mexico City Bureau Chief Harris Whitbeck
contributed to this report, written by CNN.com Writer Tom A. Hughes.