Obama hails Senate vote to back Russia nuclear treaty

LONDON. December 23. KAZINFORM The US president has welcomed the US Senate's ratification of a much-delayed nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

Barack Obama said the agreement, which will pave the way for new cuts in American and Russian nuclear arsenals, was the most important such deal in almost 20 years.

After months of wrangling in the Senate, the New Start treaty was passed by a vote of 71 to 26.

Under the deal, Russia and the US will cut deployed nuclear warheads by 30%.

"This is the most significant arms control agreement in nearly two decades and it will make us safer and reduce our nuclear arsenals along with Russia," Mr Obama said.

Despite lengthy protests from a number of congressional Republicans, 13 Republican Senators voted with the Democrats during Wednesday's vote.

Top Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, John McCain and Jon Kyl, had opposed ratification of the treaty.

Mr Obama said the vote also showed that the US political process was not doomed to what he called "endless gridlock".

"The strong bi-partisan vote in the Senate sends a powerful signal to the world that Republicans and Democrats stand together on behalf of our security," he said from the White House.

The treaty must still pass Russia's parliament, a move expected next spring.

But correspondents say the ratification will be seen as a foreign policy success for Mr Obama.

After the vote, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement: "A responsible partnership between the world's two largest nuclear powers that limits our nuclear arsenals while maintaining strategic stability is imperative to promoting global security", Kazinform refers to BBC News.

See www.bbc.co.uk

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