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World reacts cautiously to Ahmadinejad's re-election

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A world wary of Iran's nuclear program reacted cautiously Saturday to hardline leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hotly disputed re-election. Some expressed hope that the Islamic republic's president will soften his defiance and warm to recent U.S. overtures.

For the volatile Middle East and the West alike, the stakes were high.

Iran is a key economic player in the region, a perceived threat to Israel's national security -- and a major worry for the U.S. and allies who fear Tehran is trying to build an atomic weapon.

Ahmadinejad's announced landslide victory over his reformist opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, in a tumultuous election marred by allegations of widespread fraud, "will increase American pressure" to engage Iran diplomatically, said Eyal Zisser, an analyst with the Tel Aviv-based Moshe Dayan Center.

Alluding to opposition allegations that the outcome was rigged, and clashes that erupted across Iran after Ahmadinejad's government declared him the victor, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she hoped the outcome reflects the "genuine will and desire" of Iranian voters.

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