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Swing-vote US senators back START treaty

Two swing-vote US senators announced Friday they would back the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, brightening prospects for the landmark nuclear pact to be ratified this year.

Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe said in separate statements that they were throwing their support behind the arms control agreement after the White House worked to allay concerns about the accord.

That brought to three the number of Republicans who have publicly said they will back the agreement, one of President Barack Obama’s top foreign policy priorities, though other Republicans have hinted they will support the treaty.

Obama’s Democratic allies currently control 58 seats in the 100-member Senate, and need nine Republicans to reach the 67 votes required for ratification.

Republicans hold 42 seats now but that number will rise to 47 when a new Congress arrives in January.