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Wednesday, 8 November, 2000, 15:25 GMT
Congratulations came too soon
Papers with contradictory headlines
Reports of a Bush win proved premature
The ups and downs of election night in the United States led to embarrassment for many world leaders.

As US television networks announced a victory for George W Bush around 0730 GMT, several countries issued formal congratulations to the Republican candidate - and later had to withdraw them or retreat into silence as the networks admitted they had spoken too soon.

German President Johannes Rau
Rau: Statement left spokesman in a quandary
One of the first messages came from Germany's President Johannes Rau, saluting Mr Bush as a "good friend of Germany" and saying he looked forward to a continued close friendship between their countries.

But within minutes, Mr Rau's spokesman was scrambling to withdraw the message.

"What can we do? It is complicated," he said.

[Bush will] contribute to peace, stability and prosperity on Asia and all over the world

Korean ruling party
President Jacques Chirac of France praised Mr Bush's qualities of dialogue and listening skills and said he looked forward to strengthening the transatlantic partnership.

Japan's ruling party said it welcomed Mr Bush's victory "from the bottom of our hearts".

China's official Xinhua news agency carried a one-paragraph statement simply "extending its congratulation" to Mr Bush, with no further comment.

A statement from South Korea's ruling Millennium Democratic Party predicted that a Bush administration would "contribute to peace, stability and prosperity on Asia and all over the world".

South Korean opposition parties added their congratulations.

New Zealand PM Helen Clark
Clark: Looked forward to continuing trade relations
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark sent a message congratulating Mr Bush, saying she was looking forward to working with Mr Bush on bilateral trade issues.

She said no fundamental change in either American foreign policy or New Zealand-US relations was expected as a result of the election victory.

We can assure [Gore] that this is not the end of healthy working relations between the ANC and the Democratic Party

South African ruling party
Opposition leader Jenny Shipley welcomed the Republican victory, saying it represents the first major conservative party to break a worldwide trend towards social democracy.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress wished Mr Bush "luck and success" in his tenure as president.

"We hope he will take over from where Bill Clinton left off and further strengthen the relations between America and South Africa, as well as between America and the rest of the African continent," the ANC statement said.

But it also congratulated Mr Gore, adding: "We can assure him that this is not the end of healthy working relations between the ANC and the Democratic Party."

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