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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 also would set up new procedures to allow both countries to inspect each other's arsenals to verify compliance.

The treaty has drawn resistance, principally from minority 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 U.S. 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 U.S.-Russian relations and bleed into other issues, a senior
There's been a lot of talk about extending the George W.


Bush tax cuts before the end of the year, but President Obama has identified another big goal for the upcoming lame duck session of Congress: The pending Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

"I reiterated my commitment to get the START Treaty done during the lame duck session, and I've communicated to Congress that it is a top priority," Obama said after a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Japan, wrapping up his 10-day Asia trip.

Some Senate Republicans have balked at the proposed treaty, saying it could undercut U.S. missile defense plans.

Obama and aides figure they have a better chance of ratification of the treaty in the lame duck Senate; the new Senate that opens next year will have six more Republicans.

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 U.S. 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.
 
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