President Barack Obama is too strong a leader to be deterred by his party's setbacks in the U.S. midterm election, Germany's foreign minister said Wednesday, but there was some concern that Democratic losses in Congress could affect Obama's nuclear disarmament plans.
"One would massively underestimate the president of the United States if one wanted to think that he would be weakened in foreign policy," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told ZDF television, noting that the U.S. campaign was driven by "domestic and economic issues."
"America is a strong country; the American president is a very strong and decisive president," he added.
Obama's Democrats held onto the Senate in the vote Tuesday but gave up their majority in the lower house to Republicans, which could make it harder to pass new legislation.
Westerwelle called on new members of Congress to support Obama's nuclear disarmament bid.
"We cannot fall back on the issue of disarmament," Westerwelle said. "I call on those newly elected to support the president's initiative on this."
Roman Joch, head of a conservative think tank in the Czech Republic, said New Strategic Arms Control Treaty signed by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April _ "one of the biggest successes of Obama's foreign policy _ is facing problems."
"It is now possible that the treaty won't be ratified," Joch said.
The treaty would lower limits on the two countries' nuclear arsenals. However, there is concern among some Republicans that the United States can't verify whether Russia is sticking to the treaty.
Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez was among those betting on Obama's strengths rather than the Democrats' stinging losses.
"It happened with President Clinton and I'm convinced that with that political capability he (Obama) has always shown, he will be able push through all the projects he feels are necessary and opportune for the U.S. public," she said.
Some analysts said the election results are more likely to change U.S. domestic policy than foreign policy.
"America is a democracy and policies do not revolve around one person in the United States. Therefore, I do not expect any change in the U.S. foreign policy," said Ishtiaq Ahmad, a professor of international relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Will the delicate Middle East peace process be a victim of the midterms?
Zalman Shoval, a confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., thinks not. "Foreign policy is the prerogative of the president, even if he is weak," said Shoval.
At least one African country, Sierre Leone, praised the vote.
Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, the West African nation's information minister, said it was good to see a country in which "elections are conducted swiftly and results announced without any controversy."
He added, however, "that the African-American population should have provided more support for the Democratic Party."
And in Indonesia, where Obama spent part of his childhood, some still hoped that Obama's experience in their country would help bridge ties between the West and the Muslim world.
"It will be harder for him, yes," said Sonni Gondokusumo, a former playmate of Obama's. "But he's not going to give up. He's going to keep struggling, because this isn't just what's best for the world but for Americans. He still has two years to prove himself."
Associated Press reporters Tini Tran in Beijing, Geir Moulson in Berlin, Jan Olsen in Copenhagen, Clarence Roy-Macaulay in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Ali Kotarumalos and Irwan Firdaus in Jakarta, Indonesia; Katharine Houreld and Kathy Gannon in Kabul, Afghanistan; Munir Ahmed in Islamabad; Karel Janicek in Prague contributed to this report.