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Time names Obama Person of the Year

WASHINGTON, Dec 17 – Time magazine on Wednesday named US president-elect Barack Obama its 2008 "Person of the Year."

"For having the confidence to sketch an ambitious future in a gloomy hour, and for showing the competence that makes Americans hopeful he might pull it off, the president-elect is TIME’s Person of the Year," the newsweekly said.

It said US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was first runner-up followed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and China’s Zhang Yimou, who directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Time said its "Person of the Year" selection was the "person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year."

The magazine last year selected Russian leader Vladimir Putin as its 2007 "Person of the Year."

In an interview with Time, Obama said that while he may have won a "decisive victory" over Republican John McCain in the November presidential election, "I don’t think that Americans want hubris from their next president.

"I do think we received a strong mandate for change," he added in the December 5 interview.

Asked about the state of the economy, Obama said "I think we should anticipate that 2009 is going to be a tough year.

"And if we make some good choices, I’m confident that we can limit some of the damage in 2009 and that in 2010 we can start seeing an upward trajectory on the economy. "But this is a difficult hole that we’ve dug ourselves into."

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On his foreign policy priorities, Obama said "there’s no doubt that managing the transition in Iraq is going to be a top priority. Managing a more effective strategy in Afghanistan will be a top priority.

"Recognizing that it is not simply an Afghanistan problem but it’s an Afghanistan-Pakistan-India-Kashmir-Iran problem is going to be a priority.

"Sorting through our policy with respect to Iran effectively — that will be a priority," he said.

Obama told Time that "dealing with our transatlantic alliance in a more constructive way and trying to build a more effective relationship with the newly assertive and, I believe, inappropriately aggressive Russia, when it comes to the invasion of Georgia — that is going to be a priority.

"And seeing if we can build on some of the progress, at least in conversation, that’s been made around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be a priority," he said.

"Paying more attention to Latin America … that, I think, would be very important," he continued. "And finally, managing our relationship with China and the entire Pacific Rim, I think, is something that will keep not just me busy but my successor busy."

Obama, who is to be sworn in on January 20 as the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American chief executive, said long-term priorities include nuclear proliferation and climate change.

"I think dealing with development and poverty around the world is going to be a critical component of our foreign policy," he added. "It’s good for our security and not just charity."

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