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With a Handful of Exceptions, Most See Results as Dispiriting

Many Palestinians, by contrast, were wary. "The general reaction among Palestinians is apathy," said Ali Jerbawi, a political scientist at Birzeit University in the West Bank. "It doesn't make any difference whether the president is Kerry or Bush, because support for Israel was the only thing they agreed upon in the election."

Elsewhere in the Middle East, where the invasion of Iraq and the administration's unflagging support for Israel have generated enormous animosity, reaction was muted.

A young Arab man watches a program about the U.S. election at a coffee shop in downtown Amman, Jordan. In much of the Middle East, reaction to the vote was muted. (Ali Jarekji -- Reuters)

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"On the popular level there is a very strong anti-Bush, anti-neocon sentiment," said Mustafa Hamarneh, director of the University of Jordan's Center for Strategic Studies, referring to the neoconservatives whose beliefs are thought to underpin Bush's political philosophy. "Definitely, people were hoping that Bush would be defeated, although not so much to see Kerry win. They never saw much difference between them on the issue of Israel-Palestine."

In Latin America, where many people feel the Bush White House has largely ignored them since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, political leaders sent congratulations. Mexican President Vicente Fox invited Bush for a state visit. The president of El Salvador, Elias Antonio Saca, who has sent hundreds of troops to Iraq, was trying to reach Bush by phone to congratulate him, his spokesman said.

In Canada, which has been increasingly wary of the Bush administration's policies, the government kept a polite silence while the airwaves in the morning filled with the incredulous question of "how could they?" "Canadians reflexively and ideologically have been more sympathetic to the Democratic Party than Republicans running back at least 40 years," said Nelson Wiseman, a specialist in Canadian politics at the University of Toronto. "The paradox is that a Kerry victory possibly would have had more complicated consequences for Canada."

Canada refused to send troops to Iraq, he noted, but under Kerry, an appeal for a more multinational force would have been difficult to resist. "It's much harder to say no to someone you've been cheering for than someone you've been cheering against," he said.

Many Iraqis interviewed in Baghdad Wednesday expressed support for Bush. "Regardless of what many say about him, he was firm and more decisive," said Elham Abdul Wahhab, 55, a chemical engineer and mother of three. "Look, the Democrats did not do anything for us. I wish Bush will win so he can follow up on the reconstruction of Iraq, to finish what he began."

But Sinan Al Assaly, owner of a computer shop, dismissed both candidates. "We do not trust anyone anymore," he said. "Bush before the war made many promises of democracy, good life and so on, but nothing of that has been achieved. Politicians are good at talking only."

Correspondents John Ward Anderson in Jerusalem, Peter Finn in Moscow, Doug Struck in Toronto, Daniel Williams in Rome, Scott Wilson in Amman, Jordan, Mary Jordan in Mexico City and special correspondents Alexandra Topping and Maria Gabriella Bonetti in Paris, Khalid Saffar in Baghdad and Shannon Smiley in Weisbaden, Germany, contributed to this report.

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