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Global perceptions of U.S. improve

The prospect of a new president may be helping favorability ratings.

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Massive protests with an anti-American tinge in Seoul, Old Glory-burning in Beirut, and uproar in Pakistan over US airstrikes on insurgent targets.

Such recent events might suggest that America's image abroad remains in the cellar, where it's been since the US invasion of Iraq.

But a new survey of global opinion points to some modest but striking improvements in international perceptions of the US – with prospects for a change in the White House playing a role.

In particular, the ability of an African-American to rise through a long campaign and put a new face on American leadership appears to have softened the negatives that hardened under President Bush.

"This is the first time there's a little bit of good news about the image of the United States" around the world, says Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, which has been surveying global attitudes about the US since 2002. "This is not a sea change," he adds, but opinions "are not so consistently negative as they have been in the past."

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