Obama-Medvedev discuss New START
YOKOHAMA, Japan--President Obama told his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, on Sunday that winning approval for the New START treaty is his top foreign-policy priority for the lame-duck session of Congress.
The strategic nuclear arms-reduction treaty is "the signature issue" between the two nations, a senior administration official said, warning that a failure to approve the agreement negotiated last year would "bleed into other issues."
"There's a nervousness, of course, about this dragging on, and the symbolism of it dragging it would be not good for U.S.-Russia relations," the senior administration official said. " That was discussed."
The official said Congressional approval would be "followed rapidly by action in the Duma," Russia's parliament.
The two presidents met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference here, the last stop of Obama's 10-day Asia trip.
Obama and Medvedev, who referred to each other as "friends" after the meeting, also discussed Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization. Obama said all issues between the two nations that had to be addressed before Russia could join the organization have been resolved.
Medvedev told Obama that he intends to personally attend the NATO conference in Lisbon later this week, a decision Obama said would help "reduce tensions in the European theater." The agenda there would likely include the Afghanistan war and U.S. missile-defense plans in Eastern Europe.
The senior administration official said the two presidents also discussed the Middle East peace process, Lebanon, Sudan, and Iran, about which the presidents expressed "no disagreement over how to proceed."
"The argument that president has tried to make over time is that we know you have a relationship with Iran," the official said. "But over time we want you to see that the American-Russian relationship is more important."
| November 13, 2010; 11:02 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency, Barack Obama
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