Obama will bring change, says PM

The election of Barack Obama as US president will alter that country’s attitudes to human rights, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende was reported as saying by NOS tv.

‘Things will change’, Balkenende told the NOS. ‘I am pleased he can make a start. He is inspiring. I am really looking forward to working with him.
Over the past few years, the Netherlands and US have often been on opposite sides when it comes to human rights, the prime minister said. For example, the Netherlands was opposed to the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The US also refused to recognise the authority of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Obama has already taken steps to shut down Guantanamo Bay but has not spoken about the ICC. ‘A president only comes out with his vision when he is really ready,’ Balkenende told NOS.
Speaking in Australia, foreign minister Maxime Verhagen said he had been affected by Obama’s message of hope and change. And he said he was pleased at Obama’s promise to work with the rest of the world.
The world needs leadership, Verhagen was reported as saying by the Telegraaf. ‘Obama recognises the problems and wants to take a new course. That brings confidence,’ he said.
But Europe cannot hide behind Obama and must continue to accept its own responsibility for peace, security and stability, such as in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said. ‘We have to be ready to make our own contribution,’ he was reported as saying.

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