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Global Leaders Welcome Obama to World Stage བོད་སྐད།

World leaders are welcoming Barack Obama as the new president of the United States, while reminding him of the many international challenges he must face.

In a congratulatory message, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak urged Mr. Obama to make the crisis in the Middle East an "urgent priority." Mr. Mubarak has been involved in efforts to negotiate a truce between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

And Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Mr. Obama should change U.S. policy in the Middle East to improve America's image in the region.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said he is ready to work closely with Mr. Obama, particularly on efforts to confront the global economic crisis.

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed confidence that Mr. Obama will help the United States lead the way in overcoming the challenges that confront humanity.

Lawmakers in Britain erupted in cheers Wednesday when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown congratulated Mr. Obama during his weekly parliamentary address. Mr. Brown added that his nation, already a staunch ally, will strengthen its relationship with the United States.

Former South African leader Nelson Mandela wrote a letter to the new president, saying his inauguration inspired the same sense of hope the world felt when South Africa defeated apartheid.

A Constitutional Court Justice in South Africa, Albie Sachs, told the national broadcaster that Mr. Obama's inauguration reminded him of Mr. Mandela's inauguration.

In Kenya, people danced and sang in the village of Kogelo, where Mr. Obama's father was born. Many also watched the new U.S. president's swearing-in on a giant television screen in the country's capital, Nairobi.

Mr. Obama also received congratulations from European and Latin American leaders, as well as from the pope and the Dalai Lama.

At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI said in a message that he is praying for God to grant Mr. Obama "unfailing wisdom and strength."

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama also offered prayers and deep congratulations for Mr. Obama's success.

China's Ministry of Defense called on Mr. Obama to improve military relations and halt weapons sales to Taiwan.

A BBC poll of more than 17,000 people in 17 countries indicates that people throughout the world are optimistic about Mr. Obama's presidency. Two out of three people surveyed 67 percent said they believe Mr. Obama will strengthen U.S. relations abroad.