World leaders have marked Biden’s win — but few dare to speak out on Trump’s loss

The tweet and the backpedaling highlighted a contradiction in international reactions to the U.S. presidential election: Many world lead...

The tweet and the backpedaling highlighted a contradiction in international reactions to the U.S. presidential election: Many world leaders rushed to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden when it became clear he had won, and would begin preparing to take office in January. But even a week after the election, few foreign officials have spoken out about President Trump’s refusal to concede and baseless accusations of widespread voter fraud.

Akaba, one of the only high-level foreign officials to criticize Trump’s response to the election, later told reporters that he removed the tweet because he did not want to be “misinterpreted,” adding that he felt “saddened by the division being caused by the election” and that he had viewed the United States as a “front-runner of democracy.”

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga congratulated Biden on Saturday after U.S. news organizations called the election. Most U.S. allies have sent similar messages, including Trump-aligned leaders in Israel and Saudi Arabia.

World leaders are rushing to get in their first phone calls with the new president-elect, while remaining mostly quiet on the matter of Trump.

“It is not my role to be weighing in any fashion into American electoral processes,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday, a day after he spoke to Biden on the phone. European allies, many of whom spoke to Biden this week, have offered only veiled criticism of Trump rather than open condemnation.

Speaking after his own phone call with Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the president-elect had offered a “refreshing” view of U.S. power — a remark that one right wing website interpreted as a “less-than-subtle dig” at the losing presidential candidate.

In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Jonson, responding to a question from an opposition Labour MP, referred to Trump as the “previous president.”

Many Americans, including Trump, say the electoral battle is far from over. Trump has refused to accept the results of the election, mounting a variety of legal challenges, even though Biden’s win now appears too large to challenge. “WE WILL WIN,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa prematurely congratulated the incumbent last week but has since somewhat softened his pro-Trump position. He said Sunday that he had always worked closely with Washington, “no matter which party the U.S. president was from.”

Given the lengthy lame-duck period between the election and the inauguration of a new president, U.S. allies might be hesitant to anger the Trump administration during the president’s final weeks in office.

“Trump is still president for another two months and could act with vengeance if criticized,” said Erik Brattberg, director of the Europe Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “European leaders simply have nothing to gain right now by openly criticizing him and will instead resort to veiled criticisms and expressing hope for improved relations under President Biden.”

Andrea van Vugt, who served as foreign policy adviser to Stephen Harper when he was Canada’s prime minister, said that the decision to congratulate Biden without any indication that Trump would concede was already “unprecedented.”

“There are lots of diplomatic words that leaders can throw at this, but I don’t believe that any of them would even begin to consider more aggressive actions as Trump holds on,” she said.

Open criticism of Trump’s rhetoric among foreign officials has been largely limited to those who have left office or do not govern at the national level. Speaking to CNN on Monday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he admired the “grace and class” that U.S. politicians had shown in the past when they lost a vote.

But Khan, who has sparred with Trump frequently over the past few years, suggested he was not surprised the U.S. president had not admitted his loss. “Is anybody surprised?” he said.

This report has been updated.

Amanda Coletta in Toronto contributed to this report.

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Newsrust: World leaders have marked Biden’s win — but few dare to speak out on Trump’s loss
World leaders have marked Biden’s win — but few dare to speak out on Trump’s loss
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