World welcomes new Pope Francis

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Media captionLatin American Catholics in St Peter's Square on the new Pope: "He is someone who can understand us completely"

The relatively speedy election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina as the new Pope took many around the world by surprise.

Cardinal Bergoglio - now Pope Francis - was not among those many had considered the frontrunners. At 76, he will be an older pontiff than many were expecting.

It is also the first time in more than a millennium that the pope will hail from shores beyond Europe.

Here in quotes is some of the reaction from figures around the world.

US President Barack Obama

On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis... As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than 2,000 years - that in each other we see the face of God.

As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day.

Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

I offer my heartfelt congratulations [to the new Pope]... I look forward to continuing co-operation between the United Nations and the Holy See, under the wise leadership of His Holiness Pope Francis.

We share many common goals - from the promotion of peace, social justice and human rights, to the eradication of poverty and hunger - all core elements of sustainable development.

I am certain that His Holiness will continue to build on the legacy of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, in the promotion of inter-faith dialogue which is at the heart of the Alliance of Civilisations initiative.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner

We wish him, as he takes the reins of the Church, a fruitful pastoral mission, with such tremendous responsibility on his shoulders, seeking justice, equality, brotherhood and peace among mankind.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa

Long live Francis I!

Archbishop of San Salvador, Jose Luis Escobar

We are extremely happy because our Lord has cast his eyes on Latin America, and we are extremely grateful to God for that because we have a Latin American pope.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

I am confident that the constructive partnership between Russia and the Vatican will continue, and will further develop on the basis of the Christian values that unite us. Your Holiness, I wish you good health, well-being and productive work in strengthening peace and in furthering dialogue between civilisations and religions.

International spokesman for Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church Dmitry Sizonenko

[I hope relations with the Vatican will continue] developing in a positive manner... [but the new Pope] never took an active part in the dialogue between Roman Catholic and Orthodox believers, so it's hard to make any predictions.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

We hope that under the leadership of the new Pope the Vatican will adopt a practical and flexible attitude and create conditions for the improvement of China-Vatican relations.

Al-Azhar (Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning) spokesman Mahmud Azab

We are hoping for better relations with the Vatican after the election of the new Pope.

European Union leaders Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso

[Wishing the new Pope] a long and blessed pontificate... [urging him to bring the] world's people and religions closer together.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron

A momentous day for the 1.2bn Catholics around the world as His Holiness Pope Francis I is appointed the 266th Bishop of Rome.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (leader of world's Anglicans)

We wish Pope Francis every blessing in the enormous responsibilities that he has assumed on behalf of Roman Catholics around the world.

I look forward to meeting Pope Francis, and to walking and working together to build on the consistent legacy of our predecessors. May the love of Christ unite us, and intensify our service in a genuine and fruitful ecumenism that can be a blessing for the Body of Christ throughout the world.

Pope Francis is well known as a compassionate pastor of real stature who has served the poor in Latin America, and whose simplicity and holiness of life is remarkable.

President of Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Stephen Breslin

The symbolism of choosing a pope from Latin America delights and touches us, most particularly in developing countries.