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Obama says treaty remains a priority

[ 2010-11-15 13:44]     字号 [] [] []  
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President Barack Obama, capping a far-flung Asian trip of mixed results, assured Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday that getting the Senate to ratify the START nuclear weapons treaty is a "top priority" of his administration.

"I reiterated my commitment to getting the START treaty done during the lame-duck session," Obama said, noting that Congress returns next week for its postelection session.

The START treaty, which has been pending in the Senate for months, would reduce the limit on strategic warheads to 1,550 for each country from the current ceiling of 2,200. It would also set up new procedures to allow both countries to inspect each other's arsenals to verify compliance.

In talks with Medvedev on the sidelines of the summit of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Obama also reiterated his support for bringing Russia into the World Trade Organization, calling Russia "an excellent partner".

His bilateral talks with Medvedev took place on the final day of Obama's 10-day Asian tour, his longest trip away from the White House. He left Washington still reeling from a stunning electoral defeat on Nov 2 in balloting that allowed the Republicans to recapture control of the House from Obama's Democratic Party.

He concluded his Asian tour with a return visit to the Great Buddha statue, noting "I was only 6" the last time he traveled to the site. The 13-meter-high bronze statue, built in 1252, is nestled among the hills and trees at Kamakura.

After the visit, Obama boarded Air Force One for the long flight back to Washington, ending his 10-day Asia tour.

At home, the Republicans already have set in motion an ambitious legislative plan of their own for the new Congress that convenes in January. But before that, a lame-duck session will have to confront lingering issues, including not only the START treaty but also decisions on whether to extend Bush era tax cuts and on the administration's push for Congress to pass a law repealing the military's ban on homosexuals serving openly in the service.

The treaty has drawn resistance, principally from Republicans. A congressional aide briefed on White House plans for getting it ratified told The Associated Press this week that the White House was adding $4.1 billion in funding for the US nuclear arsenal in an effort to pick up the necessary votes.

Obama and Medvedev discussed the plodding pace of the ratification process, a problem that threatens to undermine US-Russian relations and bleed into other issues, a senior Obama official told reporters shortly after the meeting.

There is an uneasiness within Russia on this issue and Medvedev is being well-briefed about the dynamic of the Senate, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the closed-door meeting. The official said that if there is progress in the lame-duck session, Russian lawmakers would be likely to quickly follow suit.

On other issues, Obama praised Medvedev for strongly condemning the beatings of journalists in Russia, and the US president pushed for prosecution. The two leaders also discussed containment of Iran in its purported pursuit of nuclear weapons, and Obama and Medvedev have no disagreement about how to proceed, according to the Obama official's account.


1. What would the START treaty reduce?

2. Why hasn’t it been passed so far?

3. What did Obama praise Medvedev for?


1. Nuclear warheads

2. It is going through US senate

3. Condemning the beating of two journalists in Russia


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Obama says treaty remains a priority

Obama says treaty remains a priority

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China Daily for one year.