Obama, Medvedev hail 'historic' nuclear pact
US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed in a phone call Thursday that the new START nuclear pact was "historic" for US-Russia ties, the White House said.
"President Medvedev congratulated President Obama on the Senate's approval of the new START Treaty, and the two leaders agreed that this was an historic event for both countries and for US-Russia relations," a statement said.
The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was passed after a months-long political battle by the US Senate on Wednesday in a 71-26 vote.
Serving as a centerpiece of Obama's efforts to "reset" relations with Russia, the treaty slashes the two sides' nuclear arsenals to 1,550 deployed warheads and leaves each country with no more than 800 launchers and bombers.
The treaty also restores vital inspections that ended when the preceding START agreement expired one year ago.
Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament is slated to hold the first of three required votes on the new treaty on Friday.
The White House said Obama, who is vacationing with his family in Hawaii, spoke with Medvedev by phone on Thursday morning.
Obama said he and the Russian leader had enjoyed "a very productive year," working together on START, Afghanistan, Iran sanctions and a host of other key issues, according to the statement.
The American president highlighted the importance of US-Russia cooperation on a peaceful independence referendum in Sudan, scheduled for next month, and a resolution to the post-election impasse in Ivory Coast.
"The two leaders wished each other a Merry Christmas, and pledged to continue their close partnership in the New Year," the White House said.
© 2010 AFP