By Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- For the first time since he came to office more than five years ago, more Americans now believe U.S. President Barack Obama is not respected by world leaders than those who do, a Gallup poll released Monday found.
Fifty-three percent of Americans think world leaders do not respect him, whereas 41 percent think world leaders do respect him, according to the poll.
Although opinions about a president's perceived world standing often align with his job approval rating, a majority of Americans still thought world leaders respected Obama in 2010 and 2011, when his job approval was similar to what it is now, standing at an average 45.8 percent, Gallup found.
The recent decline may be more tied to specific international issues from the past year, such as revelations the U.S. was listening in on foreign leaders' phone calls, the war in Syria, increased tensions with Russia, and an uneasy relationship between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gallup said.
Americans' perceptions of how other countries view the U.S. have not changed in the past year, but their opinions of how world leaders view the president have. Now, Americans believe other world leaders generally do not respect Obama.
Americans themselves are not overly positive about how Obama is handling foreign affairs, with 40 percent approving of his job in that area, one percentage point above his low last November, Gallup said.
Obama has had some success in foreign policy lately, most notably the progress the U.S. and other countries are having in getting Iran to agree to limits on its nuclear capabilities. But Obama faces several challenges, including winding down U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and the ongoing civil war in Syria.
If Obama manages these challenges successfully, Americans' views of his competence on international matters, and of world leaders' opinions of him, could improve, Gallup said.