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Obama, Medvedev Pledge to Renew Arms Talks

By VOA News

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, have agreed to renew talks on limiting long-range nuclear weapons.

The two presidents, meeting face-to-face for the first time, said they hope to reach agreement on extending the strategic-arms reduction treaty, known as START, that expires in December, and to lower weapons stockpiles below the levels set in a 2002 pact signed in Moscow. They directed negotiators to report progress by July.

The two men met in London Wednesday in advance of the summit of leaders of the Group of 20 major economies.

In a wide-ranging statement, Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev said their two countries no longer view each other as enemies, and they pledged to work together to strengthen international security and meet global economic and other challenges. Mr. Obama will visit Russia in July to continue their contacts.

The presidents acknowledged their continuing disagreement over U.S. plans for deploying a missile defense system in Europe, but vowed to discuss mutual international cooperation on missile defense.

The presidents urged Iran to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear agency and to prove its nuclear program is peaceful in nature. They said Iran has the right to a civilian nuclear program, but added that the Tehran government needs to restore confidence in the "exclusively peaceful nature" of its initiative.

The U.S.-Russian statement expressed concern over the possible launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea, saying that would damage peace and stability. They urged Pyongyang to show restraint and honor the U.N. Security Council's directives about its nuclear activities.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev also said they will work together in efforts to deal with terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and with drug trafficking in the area.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

... Payvand News - 04/01/09 ... --

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