Obama, Medvedev agree to sign nuke arms deal soon

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The White House on Saturday confirmed that U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev have agreed to sign a nuclear arms control treaty soon.

"The results of their talks are encouraging, and both leaders are committed to concluding an agreement soon," said White House spokesman Mike Hammer, referring to an earlier telephone conversation between Obama and Medvedev.

The Kremlin said earlier in a statement that the two presidents have agreed to "talk about specific dates for signing a new arms reduction treaty," which is expected to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that expired on December 5, 2009.

"They had a good conversation and reviewed the progress and consensus reached in the ongoing post-START negotiations in Geneva, " said Hammer.

According to the Kremlin statement, both Medvedev and Obama expressed satisfaction with the high level of agreement in the major provisions of the draft treaty, and agreed that "it is now possible to talk about specific dates to submit the new treaty for signing by the heads of state."

Under the new and more ambitious initiative, the nuclear warheads each side holds are expected to be reduced to 1,500 to 1, 675, while the launchers limited to 500 to 1,000.

Both Obama and Medvedev see the arms control process as a vital step to boost mutual trust between the two countries. The two leaders have vowed to work together in the spirit of the START treaty following its expiration, in order to ensure that a new treaty on strategic arms can enter into force at the earliest possible date.

Reports here said that the new treaty is expected to be signed at the Nuclear Security Summit, which will be held on April 12 and 13 in Washington.

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