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South Asia hails Obama's victory

A sand sculpture congratulating Barack Obama by Indian sand artist in Puri, India
Indians have welcomed Mr Obama's win

Governments in South Asia have given a warm reaction to Barack Obama's victory in the US presidential election.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh congratulated the US president-elect on his "extraordinary" triumph and said that ties would grow even stronger.

Pakistan's PM also congratulated Mr Obama, saying he hoped the Democrat would promote "peace and stability".

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai applauded the American people "for their great decision".

Mr Singh said Barack Obama's extraordinary journey to the White House would inspire people around the world.

He asked him to visit India at the earliest opportunity.

The main opposition BJP also welcomed Mr Obama's victory, as did separatist leaders in Indian-administered Kashmir. They said they hoped that he would live up to a pre-election pledge to resolve the long-running regional dispute.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says the Indian government has been encouraged by Senator Obama's pledge to make relations with India a priority.

Prime Minister Singh has enjoyed particularly warm relations with outgoing US President George W Bush.

But our correspondent says there is optimism in Delhi that the incoming Democratic administration will not reverse the momentum and be tough on issues such as the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which India has not signed, or out-sourcing.

'Dynamic leadership'

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said: "I hope that under your dynamic leadership, [the] United States will continue to be a source of global peace and new ideas for humanity.

"I look forward to more opportunities to discuss ways to further strengthen Pakistan-US relations and to promote peace and stability in our region and beyond."

Nuclear-armed Pakistan has been a key ally in Mr Bush's "war on terror".

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad say that Barak Obama's focus will remain on Pakistan's battle against Islamist militants operating along the Afghan border.

But our correspondent says his administration can be expected to broaden US engagement with Pakistan and is likely to see greater involvement with democratic forces than did the outgoing Republicans, which focused on ties with the army.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed to Mr Obama to prevent civilian casualties, after it emerged that a number of villagers had been killed in a US air strike in the southern province of Kandahar.

But he added: "I hope that this new administration in the United States of America, and the fact of the massive show of concern for human beings and lack of interest in race and colour while electing the president, will go a long way in bringing the same values to the rest of world sooner or later."

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa also sent a message of congratulations to Mr Obama.

"I am convinced that under your leadership, the United States, which has always been a beacon to the world on many an issue, will continue to provide that leadership in a re-invigorated manner," it said.

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