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US election: World leaders who haven’t congratulated Biden

November 9, 2020

November 9, 2020

With Joe Biden projected to win the US presidential elections on Saturday, many world leaders hastened to congratulate him on his victory.

Relations between Washington and Moscow were frosty when Vice-President Biden met President Putin in 2011

But not everyone has been so keen – in fact some have been conspicuous in their absence. Here are some key international figures who have not sent messages of support or who have appeared lukewarm in their congratulations.

Some have gone even further, congratulating Mr Trump or backing unsubstantiated claims he has made about voter fraud. At least one minister has paid for his remarks with his job.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Four years ago Mr Putin was among the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election victory, but there has been no tweet, telegram or phone call to Mr Biden this time.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the reason for the delay was the legal challenges being launched by the Trump campaign.

“We believe the correct thing to do would be to wait for the official election result,” he told reporters.

But the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says there is a suspicion that the lack of congratulations reflects the fact that Moscow is not excited by the outcome.

Mr Biden is a vocal critic of Moscow and recently identified Russia as the biggest threat to America.

Mr Trump has rarely criticised Russia or Mr Putin, and Russia was accused of interfering in the 2016 election to get Mr Trump elected.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa

image captionMr Jansa has shown support for Mr Trump in the past

Mr Jansa has made no secret of his support for Mr Trump, even tweeting his congratulations to the incumbent president on Wednesday, long before the vote counts were anywhere near completion.

Since then he has repeated allegations of voter fraud carried out by Democrats.

On Saturday, he appeared more conciliatory, describing the US as Slovenia’s strategic partner and said that friendly relations would remain whoever was president.

But he has still not offered any congratulations to Mr Biden.

Mr Jansa, from the far-right anti-immigration Slovenian Democratic Party, is an ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has also expressed support for Mr Trump in the past.

Mr Trump’s wife Melania is Slovenian.

Other Slovenian leaders, including President Borut Pahor, have congratulated Mr Biden, as has Mr Orban.

Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme

Mr Helme announced his resignation on Monday after he and his son, Finance Minister Martin Helme, made allegations about widespread fraud in the US election on a radio talk show on Sunday.

Mr Helme senior also repeated unsubstantiated corruption allegations against Mr Biden and his son Hunter.

His son said that “all normal people should speak up” about the alleged falsifications.

“There is no point in talking about any kind of democracy or the rule of law if elections can be so rudely, so blatantly and massively rigged,” he added.

Both are members of the far-right Conservative People’s Party, of which Mr Helme junior is also the leader. The party is in a coalition with the Centre Party and another right-wing party,

Prime Minister Juri Ratas has criticised the two politicians, and has congratulated Mr Biden.

But he stopped short of sacking them, critics argue, because he relies on their party’s support to stay in power.

Mr Helme senior said he was resigning because of the “slander” he was facing in the Estonian media.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

Mr Bolsonaro is often considered to be an ally of Mr Trump, so much so that he has been described as the “Trump of the Tropics”.

The Brazilian leader’s failure so far to congratulate Mr Biden, therefore, comes as no surprise.

He has crossed swords with the former vice-president in the past, describing his call during an election debate for the US to push Brazil to protect the Amazon rainforest better as “disastrous and unnecessary”.

Brazilian media reports quoting government sources suggested Mr Bolsonaro planned to wait until Mr Trump’s legal challenges were completed before addressing the issue.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

Mr Lopez Obrador is another Latin American leader who has tried to maintain good relations with Mr Trump, despite tensions over the US president’s hardline policy on migrants and in particular his pledge to build a wall along the two countries’ border.

The Mexican leader has therefore been cautious about the US election, and on Sunday said he would wait for “all legal issues” to be resolved.

“We don’t want to be imprudent. We don’t want to act lightly,” he said at a news conference, adding that Mexico had a “very good relationship” with both candidates.

Mr Lopez Obrador’s equivocal position has drawn criticism from several senior US Democrats, with Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro describing it as “stunning diplomatic failure”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden in 2010IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionMr Netanyahu said Joe Biden was a big friend of Israel

Mr Netanyahu is another world leader who has never hidden his affinity for Mr Trump.

And while he congratulated Mr Biden, observers have noted the absence of the words “president-elect” and “vice-president-elect” in his message.

“”I would like to open with greetings to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. For almost 40 years I have had a personal, long and warm relationship with Joe Biden and I know him as a big friend of the state of Israel,” he said in a video statement.

Mr Netanyahu concluded the message by paying tribute to Mr Trump for his friendship towards Israel and him personally, and thanking him for recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, overturning decades of US policy, and for his hardline stance on Iran.

Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The Saudi crown prince has congratulated Mr Biden on his election victory – but only on Sunday, 24 hours after the news broke. Other Middle Eastern leaders responded on Saturday.

It was pointed out that Mohammed bin Salman had wasted no time in congratulating Tanzanian President John Magufuli on his re-election that day.

Mr Biden has vowed to reassess relations with Saudi Arabia, in particular over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the civil war in Yemen.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

President Xi sent congratulations to Mr Trump in 2016 the day after his poll victory.

But this time China has so far held off on giving any reaction to the US election results.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin noted Mr Biden’s declaration of victory in a briefing on Monday, but said Beijing would watch while “US law and procedures” were followed.

Mr Biden is expected to be more measured and nuanced in his approach to China while maintaining a tough stance.

Mr Trump has sharply criticised China over coronavirus and became involved in a trade war, imposing tariffs on numerous Chinese imports.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

There has been no response to the election result from Mr Kim, indeed as of Monday morning North Korean state media outlets have been silent on the US elections.

However, no mention was made of Donald Trump’s 2016 victory until two days after his election.

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump in Vietnam - February 2019IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

Mr Trump and Mr Kim have had a stormy relationship, though they have maintained contact through three historical face-to-face meetings.

Mr Biden, though, has described Mr Kim as a thug and says he is not interested in any personal diplomacy with him. The North Korean leader has called Mr Biden “a fool of low IQ”.

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