Washington: The United States has better relations with almost every nation on the planet thanks to President Barack Obama`s foreign policy "outreach," his spokesman said Sunday.
The bullish claim came in an interview in which White House spokesman Robert Gibbs fiercely defended Obama against accusations he has failed to reform US foreign policy from the damaging era of his predecessor George W. Bush.
"We have better relationships with virtually every country in the world as a result of the president`s foreign policy outreach," Gibbs hit back. "There`s no doubt that we have taken foreign policy in a different direction."
NBC interviewer David Gregory listed: the failure to close Guantanamo, the Afghan war escalation, an expected U-turn on plans to give chief 9/11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a civilian trial, and the same old sanctions strategy on Iran and North Korea, as examples of Obama`s stalled foreign policy reforms.
Gibbs said this was "oversimplified" logic, particularly when you considered how Obama managed to win backing from Russia and China for tougher sanctions against Iran.
"He said to the world I`m happy to discuss Iran with Iran if it will come to the table and live up to its obligations. That`s what brought the Chinese and Russians to the table at the United Nations," he said.
"I think you greatly oversimplified sort of what the president was trying to do, because the things that he`s instituted couldn`t have been done in the last administration."
A survey of 24,000 people in 22 nations published last month showed a largely favorable view of the United States for a second year, in sharp contrast to perceptions of America under former president George W. Bush.
When asked whether the US president would "do the right thing" in world affairs, 87 percent in France, 90 percent in Germany and 84 percent in Britain expressed confidence in Obama.
Those figures were down slightly from last year, but compared with Bush`s rating of 13, 14 and 16 percent respectively in the European nations.
The Pew poll did show Obama`s popularity slipping in several Muslim countries. In Pakistan, for example only eight percent said he would "do the right thing" in world affairs, down from 13 percent a year earlier.