As President Joe Biden took his oath of office Wednesday, brining the Trump era to a close after the most tumultuous presidential transition in living memory, world leaders and top officials, along with ordinary people across the globe, looked on with rapt attention, and in many cases optimism.
Some leaders and officials have reached out to embrace the incoming Biden administration, offering congratulations and speaking of their hopes for cooperation, especially on issues that fell by the wayside under Trump, such as climate change. Most took a somewhat reserved tone, but a few, including some U.S. rivals, were more vociferous.
“Good Riddance, Donald Trump!” China’s state news agency Xinhua wrote on Twitter.
Others echoed widespread alarm and fears for U.S. democracy that spread in the wake of the violence at the Capitol earlier this month. “Five years ago, we thought Trump was a bad joke, but five years later we realized he jeopardized nothing less than the world’s most powerful democracy,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Wednesday.
Here’s how world leaders, top officials and other international figures have responded to the handover of power in Washington.
British prime minister
“America’s leadership is vital on the issues that matter to us all,” Johnson wrote Wednesday.
He told Parliament earlier in the day that he welcomed the chance to work with the incoming Biden administration on “shared priorities: from tackling climate change, building back better from the pandemic and strengthening our transatlantic security.”
Indian Prime Minister
The Indian leader wrote a series of messages to Biden on Twitter, offering his “warmest congratulations.”
“The India-US partnership is based on shared values,” Modi wrote. “We have a substantial and multifaceted bilateral agenda, growing economic engagement and vibrant people to people linkages.”
Israeli Prime Minister
“President Biden, you and I have had a warm personal friendship going back many decades,” Netanyahu said in the statement. “I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance, to continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran.”
Canadian prime minister
“Canada and the United States enjoy one of the most unique relationships in the world, built on a shared commitment to democratic values, common interests, and strong economic and security ties. Our two countries are more than neighbors — we are close friends, partners, and allies,” Trudeau said in a statement.
Taiwanese envoy to Washington
Bi-khim Hsiao, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, was among the guests at the Biden inauguration on Wednesday.
“Democracy is our common language and freedom is our common objection. I look forward to working with the next administration in advancing our mutual values and interest,” Hsiao said in a video message to her Twitter account.
Hsiao serves as Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States as the two nations do not have formal diplomatic relations.
Irish foreign minister
Simon Coveney, who serves in the Irish government as minister for foreign affairs and defense, sent a message of congratulations to Biden on Wednesday, emphasizing the Irish-American politician’s family history and suggest a visit to Ireland.
“We hope to welcome him to his ancestral home early in his Presidency,” Coveney tweeted. “He has always been a friend to Ireland & we look forward to working with him on strengthening Irish/US relations & much more.”
Coveney also congratulated Vice President Harris on “her historic achievement as she is inaugurated as the first woman, and first woman of colour, to hold the office of US Vice President.”
Ursula von der Leyen
President of the European Commission
In televised remarks on Wednesday, the leaders of the European Union greeted Biden’s impending inauguration with joy and relief, as one declared that the United States was rejoining “the circle of like-minded states.”
“It will be a message of hope for a world that is waiting for the U.S. to be back in the circle of like-minded states,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament. “This new dawn in America is the moment we have been waiting for, for so long.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman
Although Chinese leader Xi Jinping has not spoken on the handover of power, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry offered a cautious welcome to the incoming Biden administration on Wednesday, and offered some cutting words for the departing Trump team.
“We hope the new U.S. administration will work together with China, with mutual respect, properly handle differences and conduct more win-win cooperation in more sectors,” Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing.
Hua also used the briefing to criticize the Trump administration, and in particular outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for its decision on Tuesday to label the alleged persecution of Uighurs in China a genocide — a move she dubbed a “piece of wastepaper.”
“This American politician, who is notorious for lying and deceiving, is turning himself into a doomsday clown and joke of the century with his last madness and lies of the century,” Hua said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov shrugged off any differences under a Biden White House, which is expected to take a tougher line with Moscow.
While Trump carefully avoided criticizing President Vladimir Putin, Biden has called him a “KGB thug” and has described Russia as the greatest threat to the United States.
“Nothing will change for Russia. Russia will continue to live just the way it has lived for hundreds of years, seeking good relations with the U.S.,” Peskov said Wednesday. “Whether Washington has reciprocal political will for that will depend on Mr. Biden and his team.”
Putin was one of the last world leaders to congratulate Biden on his election win, sending a telegram only after the electoral college vote and citing the torrent of legal challenges mounted by Trump. Nor did Putin follow up with a phone call. “No, not yet. You know that they’re having some problems there in the United States, and so they’re definitely dealing with their own problems at home now,” Peskov said about future phone calls.
Swedish climate activist
Greta Thunberg, a teenage climate activist from Sweden, offered a mocking goodbye for Trump on Wednesday morning, referencing the message the president had written about her in Sept. 2019 after she was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
“He seems like a very happy old man looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,” Thunberg wrote next to a photograph of Trump leaving the White House. “So nice to see!”
French President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped that Biden would show a greater military commitment than Trump did to the fight against Islamist extremists around the world, especially in the Middle East.
In a speech on Tuesday to the French military in Brest, in western France, he said, “I am certain that in the coming weeks, the new administration [Biden] will need to make key decisions that will mark a greater commitment and awareness in the fight against terrorism” in Syria and Iraq.
Spanish Prime Minister
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the inauguration of Biden “represents the victory of democracy over the ultra-right and its three methods, the massive deception, the national division and the abuse, even violent, of democratic institutions.”
“Five years ago, we thought Trump was a bad joke, but five years later we realized he jeopardized nothing less than the world’s most powerful democracy,” said Sanchez, who was speaking at a public event in Madrid.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “relieved” at the prospect of a Biden administration.
“I know that this feeling is shared by many people in Germany,” he said in a video message, calling it a “good day for democracy.”
“Despite all the joy we have about today, we must not forget that populism has seduced the most powerful democracy in the world,” he said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed hope Wednesday that Biden would reverse Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“The ball is in the court of Washington today — if they return to their commitments, we will also fulfill our commitments,” he said in televised remarks. He added that Trump’s “political life is over, but the JCPOA is alive — he made his utmost efforts to eliminate the deal, but he failed.”
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has also indicated his support for Iran’s return to the nuclear deal once Biden takes office but has also insisted that the United States is not to be trusted, no matter who is in power.
Australian prime minister
Australian leader Scott Morrison said Tuesday that he hopes the incoming U.S. administration could lead to unity in the country following last year’s disputed election and the aftermath.
“America is going through a very terrible time at the moment, but [I’m] looking forward to the country uniting and moving on from these terrible last few months and particularly these last few weeks,” he told 2GB Radio on Tuesday.
In the interview, Morrison also said the scenes at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were “terrible” but that he did not want to lecture another country and its leaders.
A key ally to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said Friday that he hoped there could be dialogue between Washington and Caracas after Biden takes office, and that the incoming U.S. leader could pull back sanctions imposed during the Trump administration.
“The entire world is waiting out the hours for when the new president assumes the office in the United States,” Jorge Rodríguez, the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, said in an interview with the Associated Press. “We hope that includes abandoning what’s has been so harmful to the people of Venezuela and completely unproductive.”
Photo editing by Chloe Coleman. Design by J.C. Reed. Story editing by Benjamin Soloway. Copy editing by Carey L. Biron.