End of presidential era means uncertainty in world

LONDON — The election of a new U.S. president has global impact, especially at a time when much of the world is in turmoil. Following are dispatches from The Sun's overseas bureaus describing reaction and expectations raised by the election of Bill Clinton which found that, as in the United States, economic concerns are paramount.

British tentative, Europeans calm


LONDON -- Britain reacted tentatively yesterday to the election of Bill Clinton to the White House, while elsewhere in Europe the response was calm and positive, even as a trade war loomed between the United States and the European Community.

Prime Minister John Major sent a message to Mr. Clinton anticipating "the United States and Britain will continue to work together very closely in foreign policy and that the special relationship we've had for so many years will be maintained."


But one government official conceded the Democrat's victory raises the possibility of future difficulties with Britain in areas where Mr. Clinton is contemplating policy changes. These include Northern Ireland, China, and his proposals to raise taxes on foreign firms operating in the U.S.

Mr. Clinton has spoken of appointing a peace envoy to Northern Ireland, possibly giving the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams a visa to the United States; he also supports the MacBride Principles, which mandate equal-opportunity employment for Catholics and Protestants in the British province in Ireland.

Mr. Clinton is expected to push a harder line with China than President Bush, which London fears would exacerbate the already difficult relations between Beijing and Hong Kong as the 1997 turnover of the crown colony to Beijing approaches.

Mr. Clinton's intention to raise $45 billion by taxing foreign-owned companies in the United States has spread an even deeper disquiet here.

The Conservative government says it expects a Clinton administration to enforce existing tax laws more stringently rather than drafting new ones. But Ernst & Young, business advisers and accountants, said British multinationals "should be prepared to defend themselves against the tax raising plans of the new Clinton administration."

Crucial trade talks between the United States and EC over agricultural subsidies broke down in Chicago on election day, and bureaucrats in

Brussels began drawing up a list of U.S. imports to tax if the Americans carry out threatened duties on European products.

Despite the fact it would be the country most severely hit by sanctions, France gave the most ebullient welcome to Mr. Clinton. President Francois Mitterrand said: "Under your leadership I am convinced that the friendship that has linked our two countries for more than two centuries will grow stronger."


Elsewhere, there were some expressions of concern over Mr. Clinton's plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Europe by about half a million, and over what are perceived as the protectionist tendencies of the Democrats.

Carl Bildt, Sweden's prime minister, said he hoped Mr. Clinton would "resist such protectionist winds."

BERLIN -- No one in Germany was very surprised at Bill Clinton's victory, but officials and political observers don't quite know what to expect from Mr. Clinton.

"We'll have to learn fast," one of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's advisers told German television.

Chancellor Kohl said he looked forward to a good working relationship and hoped to have a meeting with the president-elect soon.

Mr. Kohl praised Bush for his achievements and help in German-American relations, ending the Cold War and the reunification of Germany, saying: "We have great reason to thank him and his administration."


But the Gernmans were not surprised by Mr. Bush's loss. An official from the German Embassy in Washington was assigned to travel with the Clinton campaign. Diplomats and military attaches met with Mr. Clinton's advisers.

Germans believe Mr. Clinton will probably be more protectionist than Mr. Bush. They think he'll be more preoccupied with domestic issues than foreign policy. They expect him to cut U.S. armed forces in Germany to fewer than 100,000 troops. But Klaus Kinkel, the German foreign minister, told German radio he saw no reason to believe the United States would not uphold its international responsibilities.


Carl Schoettler

Russia: Worry at critical time



MOSCOW -- Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin sent Bill Clinton a congratulatory telegram yesterday.

And Edward A. Ivanian, a specialist in the American presidency at the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies, conceded that in the long term Mr. Clinton may become a good ally for Russia.

But Russians are worried about what will happen while Mr. Clinton and his advisers are developing a policy and relationships with their Russian counterparts.

"Mr. Clinton won't take office until Jan. 20," Dr. Ivanian said. "His victory means some of the things vital to the survival of democracy in Russia will have to wait.

The transfer of power in the United States comes at a time when Mr. Yeltsin faces severe trials and challenges. While the United States would not play a direct role in this political infighting, Dr. Ivanian said that the visible support of a well-known ally like Mr. Bush could strengthen Mr. Yeltsin's hand.

"The next two months are the most important in our political life," Dr. Ivanian said.


Mr. Bush in the American presidency would have meant a preservation of the status quo, which would be a stabilizing influence in Russia, Dr. Ivanian said. Now, he said, Mr. Yeltsin's opponents may see the new face in Washington and say, "Maybe it's time for a new face here."

Kathy Lally

Japan: Anxiety on 'protectionism'


TOKYO -- "Protectionism" represented the anxiety of the day as the reality sank in that Democrat Bill Clinton had ended 12 years of Republicans in the White House.

In the Diet, Japan's parliament, Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa promised to go to Washington in January to sound out the new president on trade and Asian regional security -- issues on which many Asian commentators say they feel less comfortable with the new Democrat than with George Bush.


The Tokyo Stock Exchange rose moderately on hopes of a more vigorous U.S. economy. Stocks skyrocketed in Singapore and Malaysia, but in Korea banks had to buy shares to cut off a sharp drop amid fears of trade retaliation.

The new administration "could prove vulnerable to protectionist pressures," warned Rokuro Ishikawa, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Though Mr. Clinton resisted the Japan-bashing temptation, his stump speeches have asserted that 300,000 more Americans could have jobs, "if Japanese markets were as open as ours."

Senior leaders welcomed Mr. Clinton's focus on reviving the U.S. economy, which would benefit U.S. trade partners. But congratulations were hedged with warnings that a president inexperienced in foreign affairs had better not rock the boat, especially in such matters as U.S. military force reductions overseas.

John E. Woodruff

China: Hopes pinned on Congress



BEIJING -- As Bill Clinton's victory became clear here yesterday morning, the future of Sino-American relations became cloudy.

The government here preferred familiarity over uncertainty, continuity over possible changes in American policy toward China.

President Bush earned Chinese favor by vetoing congressional efforts to attach human rights conditions to renewal of China's most-favored-nation (MFN) trade status with the U.S.

By contrast, Mr. Clinton stirred government fear here with a tough campaign stance on China's human rights abuses.

The Chinese government's hope is that a Democratic-controlled Congress may give Mr. Clinton room to fashion a face-saving deal on MFN that China could accept -- somewhat akin to President Ronald Reagan, who backed off in 1981 from his campaign support for stronger ties with Taiwan. "Clinton talked tough about China during the campaign, but now he will have to represent all of America's interests in China," said Qin Yongchun, a National Defense University researcher.



Robert Benjamin

Latin America: Cautious optimism


MEXICO CITY -- Much of Latin America appeared cautiously optimistic over Bill Clinton's victory.

His election raised hopes that the United States would put stronger emphasis on the development of democracy in the region; demand stricter enforcement of human rights laws, and develop drug policies that do not rely on military intervention and severe penalties for coca farmers.


Here in Mexico, where the administration of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari is depending on the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiated with the Bush administration, the government reacted sternly to the notion that a Clinton administration would reconsider the accord.

"Negotiations between the governments have already been completed," said Jaime Serra Puche, Mexico's secretary of commerce. "It is a definitive text that will not be subject to renegotiation."

When asked how he would respond to Mr. Clinton's concerns over environmental and labor protections, Mr. Serra exclaimed: "There will be no changes, absolutely none." The other chief issue facing Mr. Clinton in the region will be Cuba, and Havana made a gesture to the new president yesterday, saying it was "time to break with old antagonisms that really benefit no one."

But little hope is held out for a rapprochement, given the commitments that Mr. Clinton made to staunchly anti-Fidel Castro exile groups to attract votes in Florida.

Ginger Thompson

Middle East: News for Israel is good



JERUSALEM -- The first morning radio news proclaimed the election results as "good news for Israel," and most analysts here agreed with that conclusion.

Bill Clinton was the strong favorite in Israel, both because of his presumed pro-Jewish slant and because of resentment toward President Bush for pressure against Jewish settlement in the occupied territories.

Palestinians and other Arabs were, for the same reasons, glum about the U.S. election results.

"It's another new administration that is in favor of Israel," said Reyad Malki, a professor at the Palestinian Bir Zeit University in -- Ramallah.

Both sides said the Middle East peace talks will continue. But even the incremental progress so far at the talks has required the whip of U.S. pressure, and they predict a slowdown as Mr. Clinton focuses on U.S. domestic issues.


Mr. Clinton's campaign statements have been pleasing to Jewish ears. He has said he opposes a Palestinian state, favors recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's territory and capital, and vowed to keep Israel the strongest military force in the region.

"Israel can expect an easier life than it had under the Bush administration," predicted Rami Talin Yediot Ahronot.

Doug Struck

S. Africa: De Klerk, Mandela offer greetings


JOHANNESBURG -- President F.W. de Klerk and black opposition leader Nelson Mandela, president of the African National Congress, wasted no time in congratulating Mr. Clinton on his victory yesterday.


Spokesman Carl Niehaus said the ANC, South Africa's major black political organization, was encouraged by Mr. Clinton's expression during the campaign of a firm commitment to democracy in South Africa.

An assumption here is that Bill Clinton's priority will be domestic politics, but that pressure might come from some of Mr. Clinton's advisers who would push "for an activist policy on South Africa," according to William Shrire, political scientist at the University of Cape "His officials will tend to be less patient with de Klerk's government and somewhat more critical," said John Barrett, director of the South African Institute of International Affairs. "I think generally it will be more for the same but with a slight swing towards the opposition," he said.


Jerelyn Eddings