PRESIDENT-ELECT Barack Obama, who takes office on January 20, 2009, will face a number of key foreign policy problems. Here are 10 current challenges - and how he might tackle them. US ROLE IN THE WORLD One conclusion from the US vote must be that the American electorate wants a significant change in foreign policy. The change might be characterised as a move from unilateralism to multilateralism - and less talk about the United States as the 'world's only superpower'. Confrontation might give way to greater diplomacy. However, US presidents, whatever the expectations, often enter or get drawn into conflicts, so nobody should expect a conflict-free presidency. President-elect Obama will enter office fighting two existing wars. How he handles them will help define his era. IRAQ Barack Obama says he will tell his commanders to redefine their mission as one of 'successfully ending the war'. But that has to be done, he says, "responsibly". He has defined this as giving time for the Iraqi government to strengthen its own armed forces and he wants a phased withdrawal of most US troops "within 16 months" of his inauguration, which means the end of May 2010. AFGHANISTAN Perhaps the biggest challenge on his agenda. If in Iraq the war is winding down, in Afghanistan it is winding up. President-elect Obama is promising to "focus on Afghanistan". He has said he will send two more combat brigades. He has also promised to attack Al-Qaeda figures, especially Osama Bin Laden, wherever they might be and, it seems, whether or not Pakistan agrees. 'WAR ON TERROR' President Bush's famous phrase might be given less prominence in an Obama administration. He wants to concentrate on winning what the 9/11 Commission called 'the battle of ideas' by "returning to an American foreign policy consistent with America's traditional values and by partnering with moderates within the Islamic world to counter Al-Qaeda propaganda". However, there will still be a hard edge to his policy. He has said he "will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America." IRAN Potentially a huge crisis. Much depends on what Iran does. If it continues with its low-grade enrichment of uranium, it could be that a new administration will simply carry on with sanctions, even trying to widen and deepen them. Barack Obama has said he will talk to Iran 'without conditions'. MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS President Bush had hoped to have an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians by the end of this year but that looks impossible. So Barack Obama will probably be faced with the perennial issue of how far to intervene in the peace process, such as it is, with the weight of the United States. RUSSIA Recent events in Georgia precipitated a crisis in relations between Russia and the West not seen since the end of the Cold War. This encapsulated all the frustrations that have built up on both sides and raised the question of how the new administration will frame its policy towards Russia. NORTH KOREA The latest North Korean moves have been positive. The country has agreed on procedures to verify the halt in its nuclear programme in exchange for being removed from the American list of terrorist-supporting states. But the North is likely to retain the nuclear weapons it says it has, so the issue for the next president is whether he can get North Korea to give up its weapons altogether. CHINA US relations with China are important across the board, since China is a permanent member of the Security Council and wields immense economic influence in the world. 'NEW DIPLOMACY': FINANCE, CLIMATE CHANGE, ENERGY Under this heading come the major issues that are part of what is sometimes called the new diplomacy. The current financial crisis, in which US government money has been used to shore up the banks, will force the next president to take a more hands-on approach than presidents usually like to. And he will ask himself how to counter the diminished standing that the US, through the failure of its financial organisations, now has in the world. Barack Obama has committed himself to doing more on global warming and wants greenhouse gases reduced by 80% by 2050. This will be one of the most important issues of his presidency, as the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 and negotiations about a follow-up have stalled. Energy, especially the supply of oil, will be another challenge. The president-elect has pledged to eliminate US reliance on Middle East and Venezuelan oil within 10 years.