Barack Obama's inauguration drew hundreds of thousands of people from across the US and the world to Capitol Hill [AFP]
 

Nelson Mandela, former South African president

"Your election to this high office has inspired people as few other events in recent times have done. Amongst many around the world a sense of hopelessness had set in as so many problems remain unresolved and seemingly incapable of being resolved.

"You, Mister President, have brought a new voice of hope that these problems can be addressed and that we can in fact change the world and make of it a better place.''

Gordon Brown, British prime minister

"He is a man of great vision, he is a man of great determination and energy and he is a man of great moral purpose. And I think all these qualities are ones that will stand him in great stead for facing up to the changes ahead of him."

Angela Merkel, German chancellor

"I believe today is a very special day not only for the United States of America but also a special day for billions of people all over the world. The fact that a black president is inaugurated and the fact that we are looking at an intensive trans-Atlantic co-operation is something that not only moves the heads and thoughts but also the hearts."

Silvio Berlusconi, Italian prime minister

"Many hopes and expectations have been piled on him, not just by the American people but also the rest of the world. The thing to do is to send him the most affectionate and cordial wishes so that he can fulfil these expectations."

Salam Fayyad, Palestinian prime minister

"We wish him well, and we look forward to active engagement on the part of his administration in cooperation with important members of the international community, notably, the European Union.

Ehud Olmert, Israeli prime minister

"The greatest democracy in the world has again proven that it is a beacon and example for many countries. The entire State of Israel rejoices with the United States and welcomes President Obama, who took the oath of office this evening.

"Barack Obama's journey to the White House has impressed and inspired the entire world. I am convinced that the United States' deep and abiding ties with Israel will strengthen further. The values of democracy, brotherhood and freedom that constitute the building blocks of American society are also shared by Israeli society, together with the faith in man's power and ability to change and influence his surroundings.

"We wish the incoming President success in his office and are certain that we will be full partners in advancing peace and stability in the Middle East."

Nicolas Sarkozy, French president

"With your election, the American people has vigorously expressed its confidence in progress and in the future, as well as its resolve to have an open, new, strong and caring America that you embody.

"As you are entering office, I should like to convey to you, on my behalf and on the behalf of the people of France, my very best wishes for great success at the head of the American nation."

Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan president

"Today is a day which has particular importance internationally because a new President of the United States takes office but nobody should raise their hopes.

"We are still talking about the American empire and as our colleague Brazil's president Lula [Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva] said a few days ago, hopefully Obama [will] look towards Latin America in a new way with a new focus with regards to democracy and change processes."

Mwai Kibaki, Kenyan president

"On behalf of the government and the people of Kenya and on my own behalf, I extend our message of best wishes on the auspicious occasion of your inauguration as the 44th president of the United States of America."

Kevin Rudd, Australian prime minister

"I believe from everything I have seen, read and heard and from the conversations that I have had with him that the American people have chosen well in their new president."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies