Obama calls on Senate to ratify START treaty

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US President Barack Obama assured Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in talks on Sunday that he would press the US Senate to ratify the new START nuclear arms reduction pact this year.

The administration has been in intense negotiations with Republican lawmakers over the treaty, which slashes US and Russian nuclear arsenals, and hopes to get it passed before a new Congress convenes in January.

"I reiterated my commitment to get the START treaty done during the lame duck session and that I have communicated to Congress that it is a top priority," Obama told reporters after the meeting.

The "old" Congress that was in place before Republicans made sweeping mid-term election gains in November will meet for a "lame duck" session beginning this week.

US Senate ratification requires 67 votes, meaning Obama's Democratic allies will need to pick up considerable Republican support.

Obama met Medvedev on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim summit in Japan on the last day of his journey through Asia.

© 2010 AFP

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