By JIM HEINTZ and GREGORY KATZ
World leaders struggled Wednesday to come to grips with a new reality — Donald Trump will be the next U.S. president — and an as yet unanswerable question: How many of his campaign pledges will he actually act on?
The remarkable triumph of the politically untested businessman was welcomed in some countries, such as Russia, while in others it was a major shock.
When Trump takes office in January, world leaders will confront a man whose stated views represent a sharp break with U.S. foreign policy orthodoxy. He has cozied up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, warned stunned NATO allies they will have to pay for their own protection, floated a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and vowed to make the Mexican government finance a multibillion-dollar border wall.
These changes, and others, have the potential to radically remake U.S. policy — a prospect that has given stability-loving partners a cascading case of the jitters.
Trump’s victory was hailed in Russia, which has taken an increasingly aggressive stance toward the West in recent months. Putin sent Trump a congratulatory telegram Wednesday and made a televised statement expressing the hope that frayed U.S.-Russian relations could be put back on track.
“We are aware that it is a difficult path, in view of the unfortunate degradation of relations between the Russian Federation and the United States,” the Russian leader said, adding: “It is not our fault that Russian-American relations are in such a state.”
Russia became a focal point during the presidential campaign, with government officials and Hillary Clinton supporters suggesting Moscow was involved in hacking her campaign’s emails. Trump raised eyebrows when he expressed admiration for Putin and his tough leadership style, and some Clinton backers questioned Trump’s business dealings with Russia.
Dmitri Drobnitski, a columnist at the generally pro-Kremlin website LifeNews, asserted Trump’s victory will help the world.
“I congratulate the American people with their will and with their democracy and with their strength and with their courage,” he told The Associated Press. “So this is not only a victory for the Americans, who defended their democracy against the liberal, global elite— no, this is a victory that the American people brought to the whole world.”
There is anxiety in Europe among NATO allies who are waiting to see if Trump follows through on suggestions the U.S. will look at whether they have paid their proper share in considering whether to come to their defense.
That rhetoric has challenged the strategic underpinning of the NATO alliance — in which an attack on one NATO nation is considered an attack on all — at a time when Russia has been ever more confrontational.
“As a candidate, Trump called into question NATO and trade agreements, and reached out to Moscow,” said Daniela Schwarzer, an expert on trans-Atlantic relations at the German Council on Foreign Relations.
“Even if President Trump doesn’t implement everything, Germany and Europe can’t rely on the trans-Atlantic partnership as usual, and will have to stand up for Western values themselves.”
Trump’s win also caused trepidation in Mexico, where his remarks calling Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists” were a deep insult to national pride.
Trump has suggested slapping a 35 percent tax on automobiles and auto parts made by U.S. companies in Mexico, and financial analysts have predicted a Trump win will threaten billions of dollars in cross-border trade.
Trump’s victory is “as close to a national emergency as Mexico has faced in many decades,” Mexican analyst Alejandro Hope said.
It also caused concern in Cuba, over Trump’s threat to roll back President Barack Obama’s normalization of relations unless Cuban President Raul Castro agrees to more political freedoms.
“If he reverses it, it hurts us,” taxi driver Oriel Iglesias Garcia said. “You know tourism will go down.”
Trump’s electoral triumph was also felt strongly in the volatile Middle East, where multiple crises are unfolding. One major concern is Trump’s vehement opposition to the historic nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers under which Iran has curbed its nuclear program in exchange for a gradual lifting of international sanctions.
In Iran, leaders emphasized the need to keep the agreement on track despite Trump’s victory. The deal “cannot be overturned by a single government,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said.
Israel’s leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, indicated a high comfort level with the next president, hailing Trump as a “true friend of the state of Israel.”
Iraq’s leader, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also congratulated Trump and expressed hope the “world and the United States will continue to support Iraq in fighting terrorism.”
Katz reported from London. Associated Press writers Peter Orsi and Christopher Sherman in Mexico City; Michael Weissenstein and Andrea Rodriguez in Havana; Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin; Angela Charlton in Paris; Lynne O’Donnell in Kabul, Afghanistan; Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin; Frank Jordans in Berlin; Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem, Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad and Amir Vahdat in Tehran contributed to this report.
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