TBILISI, Georgia -- Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire whose political coalition shocked much of the region by prevailing in this week's parliamentary elections here, on Wednesday hastily rescinded his demand that President Mikheil Saakashvili resign, and said he was "ready for constructive relations" with him.
Mr. Ivanishvili also announced that his first visit after the election will be to Washington, signaling that the electoral upset will not affect Georgia's close relationship with the United States. He told local television reporters that he would travel to the United States after the presidential elections in November.
"We have also made the decision that I will not go to visit any other country yet -- my first visit will be to the U.S.," he said.
Both announcements suggest that Mr. Ivanishvili, who is poised to take the powerful post of prime minister, does not intend to dramatically reorient Georgia toward a partnership with Russia. Throughout a sometimes poisonous election campaign, Mr. Saakashvili had accused his rival of representing Kremlin interests, offering as evidence the vast wealth he had earned in Russia.
Mr. Ivanishvili has little experience in public life, and until he vowed to topple Mr. Saakashvili lived so reclusively that few people knew what he looked like. American officials have consulted intensively with him in recent weeks, both to take his measure and to urge a peaceful, constitutional transition.
During a meandering, sometimes vituperative news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Ivanishvili shocked many by casually saying that Mr. Saakashvili should resign immediately rather than serve out his term, which ends in 2013 -- a jarring demand, since Mr. Saakashvili had just offered a graceful concession speech and offered to work together.
Western observers were upset, and Wilfried Martens, of the European People's Party, released a statement calling the demand "totally unacceptable" and "a direct attack against democracy and the rule of law."
Mr. Ivanishvili officially took it back with a written statement on Wednesday, saying it was only a recommendation.
"I reiterate that we do not raise any political ultimatums and, for the well-being of the country, we are ready for dialogue and settlement of state issues with the Georgian president and other representatives of the present government in a working atmosphere," the statement said.
There are dizzying questions about how the two men will share power, after a campaign marked by vicious personal attacks and recrimination.
Because of recent changes to the Constitution, Georgia will become a parliamentary republic in 2013, and many executive powers will be transferred to the prime minister. But many months of compromise stretch out before then -- a danger in a political culture geared toward obliterating one's opponent. At his news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Ivanishvili said, jokingly, that American officials had been urging him to reach out to Mr. Saakashvili.
"There were attempts -- would I agree to call Saakashvili? -- which I refused," he said. "Today, and in the future, there is no need of this. Our 'big brothers' from America tried to do something about this and worried a lot about how we will be able to work with the governing party."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.