LONDON -- World leaders sought comfort from the familiar on Wednesday after President Obama's re-election but, with the global political landscape substantially unchanged and crises on hold while the vote unfolded, many vied with new vigor for his attention and favor as he embarks on a second term.
In marked contrast to a euphoric surge four years ago, when many hailed Mr. Obama's victory as a herald of renewal, the mood was subdued, reflecting not only the shadings of opinion between the American leader's friends and foes but also a generally lowered expectation of America's power overseas.
Mr. Obama, one French analyst said, is "very far from the hopes that inflamed his country four years ago."
Even in Kenya, where Mr. Obama's father was from, the energy surrounding this election was just a shadow of what it had been in 2008, when it seemed as if the entire African continent was cheering him on. Many Kenyans have been disappointed that Mr. Obama has yet to visit as president, part of a broader feeling on the continent that Africa has not been a priority, certainly not compared with the unfolding nuclear debate in Iran and the civil war in Syria.
Some were quick to list their conflicting requirements, signaling the diplomatic shoals ahead.
Iranian officials hinted that talks were possible between Iran and the United States. "If it benefits the system, we will negotiate with the U.S.A. even in the depths of hell," Mohammad Javad Larijani, one of several brothers with key positions in the ruling elite, told the semiofficial Mehr news agency, saying bilateral talks were "not taboo."
Last month, some Obama administration officials said such talks had been agreed to in principle, but that was later denied in Washington and Tehran.
Danny Danon, the deputy speaker of the Israeli Parliament, who is regarded as a staunch ally of the Republicans, evoked "the existential threat posed to Israel and the West by the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran."
"Now is the time for President Obama to return to the wise and time-honored policy of 'zero daylight' between our respective nations," Mr. Danon said.
Mr. Danon is a member of the conservative Likud Party, led by Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has tense relations with Mr. Obama and who was widely perceived in Israel and the United States as having supported the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said in a brief statement that he hoped that Mr. Obama would press for peace in the Middle East.
That call seemed mirrored in Malaysia, where Prime Minister Najib Razak urged Mr. Obama to "continue in his efforts to foster understanding and respect between the United States and Muslims around the world."
But, after the upheaval of the Arab Spring, such overtures now seem more complex. In Cairo, where Mr. Obama committed himself three years ago to "a new beginning" with the Arab world, Essam el-Erian, a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, said in an online posting as the results became clear, "We have to realize that after the Arab revolutions, we can reduce foreign interference in our domestic affairs and our foreign policy -- with American interference first on the list."
Before the outcome was known, Chinese analysts had summed up what seemed to be a widespread calculation that the Chinese leadership, itself scheduled to change in two days' time, favored Mr. Obama "because he's familiar," said Wu Xinbo, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. A victory for Mr. Romney would have made China "a little nervous because he might bring new policies."
President Hu Jintao of China praised the "hard work of the Chinese and American sides" in creating "positive developments" in their relationship during Mr. Obama's first term.
"With an eye toward the future, China is willing, together with the United States," he said, "to continue to make efforts to promote the cooperative partnership between China and the United States so as to achieve new and even greater development, bringing better benefits to the people of the two countries and the people of the world."
China's response was colored by a pre-election pledge from Mr. Romney to label Beijing a currency manipulator. "With Obama continuing," said Poon Tsang, a street market vendor in Hong Kong, "there should be some stability in his relationship with China."
Across Europe, many greeted news of Mr. Obama's re-election with a sense of mild relief, though it was not immediately clear whether those feelings were accompanied by any enhanced expectation that armed with a new mandate, the Obama administration would find solutions to the huge challenges still facing it in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Syria and the Middle East.
Imran Khan, a prominent Pakistani politician, urged Mr. Obama to "give peace a chance" after a first term marked by "increased drone attacks, a surge in Afghanistan, increased militancy in Pakistan as a result of that."
Most Afghans appeared pleased by the election result, welcoming the continuity it offered in a country buffeted violently by change and conflict over the past few years, although many were worried that Mr. Obama could accelerate the withdrawal of American troops from the country, due to conclude in 2014.
Mr. Obama is also under pressure to increase his involvement in ending the Syrian war.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to Jordan, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said early on Wednesday, "One of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis."
On the ground in Syria, rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad seemed divided over the effect of a second term for Mr. Obama. A commander who asked to be identified only by his first name, Maysara, said he expected Washington to take a much clearer stance within 10 days. "If they don't, Syria will become like Somalia," he said.
By contrast, Fawaz Tello, an opposition figure living in Germany, referred to a Romney proposal to help the rebels while "Obama made no clear proposals." A second term for Mr. Obama, he said, is "not a good sign."
Some of the favorable responses to Mr. Obama reflected campaign blunders by Mr. Romney, who drew barbs from both Britons and Spaniards for remarks about their countries.
"We in Spain wanted Obama to win because he is more like us; we still see him as a transformative leader," said Manel Manchon, a political scientist. "Romney insulted Spain, and you can't just blame Spain for this crisis."
Like most Western Europeans, Britons are broadly more liberal than Americans; even most British conservatives sympathize far more with Democratic than with Republican views on social issues like abortion, the death penalty and health care.
There is also a perception in Britain and elsewhere in Europe that a Romney government would have been parochial, suspicious of foreigners and untested in world affairs, while Mr. Obama's victory, as the left-leaning Guardian newspaper put it, "is good for Americans, good for America, and good for the world."
Mr. Obama's standing elsewhere seemed more ambiguous.
After his election in 2008, for instance, Mr. Obama promised a "reset" with Moscow. But the United States and Russia took opposing positions on the Libyan and Syrian crises and the Kremlin has depicted the American response to antigovernment protests in Moscow as undermining President Vladimir V. Putin's return to power.
However, after Mr. Obama's victory became clear, Russian officials issued the most optimistic comments to be heard in months about relations with the United States.
Dmitri S. Peskov, spokesman for Mr. Putin, said, "In general, the Kremlin took the news about Barack Obama's victory in the elections quite positively."
In Indonesia, where Mr. Obama spent some of his childhood, students at his former elementary school cheered his victory, as did elite Indonesians gathered at a party hosted by the American Embassy. On the streets, motorcycle taxi drivers raised their fists, shouting, "Obama, Obama."
For some Europeans, the victory offered an object lesson in the politics of economic hardship that has cost leaders in France, Spain and Britain and elsewhere their jobs.
"Obama has succeeded where Sarkozy, Zapatero and Brown failed -- to be re-elected amid a major economic crisis," François Sergent, a deputy editor, wrote in a special edition of the leftist newspaper Libération in France, referring to the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy; José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the former prime minister of Spain; and Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister.
The sense that Mr. Obama's second term would be less constrained by electoral considerations offered analysts a rich theme. "For all the criticism of Obama, he now has the tail wind and the independence of not having to seek re-election," Philipp Missfelder, a leading member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, said in an interview. "He can use that for foreign policy, too."
But there was unease in Germany that Mr. Obama's focus on Asian issues, in particular the rise of China, had sapped trans-Atlantic ties with Europe. "I hope he will not only be the Pacific president, but also the trans-Atlantic president," Mr. Messfelder said.
In South Africa, whose prism is shaped by the decades of apartheid, Mathews Phosa, a senior member of the ruling African National Congress, said the outcome made Mr. Obama a potent symbol of the triumph of merit over race. "There is hope for the future if we all transcend racial patterns and look at people as people on their merits," he said.
And Mr. Obama's re-election brought relief and some economic concern in Brazil, where he is broadly popular and seen as more cautious in foreign policy than his Republican challengers.
"Everything that happens in the United States influences every other country, in both positive and negative ways," said Rogério Antonio, 31, a salesman in an optical store in Rio de Janeiro. "It's as though someone threw a pebble in the water and you sit waiting for the ripples to come out your way."
Reporting was contributed by Jane Perlez and Keith Bradsher from Beijing; Hilda Wang from Hong Kong; Isabel Kershner and Jodi Rudoren from Jerusalem; Ellen Barry and Andrew Roth from Moscow; Sara Schonhardt from Jakarta, Indonesia; Scott Sayare from Paris; Dan Bilefsky from Barcelona, Spain; Tim Arango and Hwaida Saad from Antakya, Turkey; Sebnem Arsu from Istanbul; Sarah Lyall from London; Lydia Polgreen from Johannesburg; Nicholas Kulish and Chris Cottrell from Berlin; Jeffrey Gettleman from Nairobi, Kenya; Graham Bowley from Kabul, Afghanistan; Salman Masood from Islamabad, Pakistan; Ramtin Rastin from Tehran; Thomas Erdbrink from Amsterdam; Simon Romero and Taylor Barnes from Rio de Janeiro; and David D. Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh from Cairo.
Correction: November 7, 2012, Wednesday
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article misattributed a quotation. It was Philipp Missfelder of the Christian Democratic Party in Germany, not Claudia Schmucker of the German Council on Foreign Relations, who said: "For all the criticism of Obama, he now has the tail wind and the independence of not having to seek re-election. He can use that for foreign policy, too."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.