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Obama and Medvedev shake to having 1,500 nukes each

UNITED States President Barack Obama said he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are countering "a sense of drift" in relations between their nations with preliminary agreement yesterday to reduce the world's two largest nuclear stockpiles to as few as 1,500 warheads each.

"We must lead by example, and that's what we are doing here today," Obama said as he and his Russian host pointed their arsenals toward the lowest levels of any US-Russia arms control agreement.

"We resolve to reset US-Russian relations so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest," Obama said.

The document signed by the two leaders at a Moscow summit, Obama's first in Russia, is meant as a guide for negotiators as the nations work toward a replacement pact for the START arms control agreement that expires in December.

The joint understanding, signed after about three hours of talks at the Kremlin, also commits the updated treaty to lower longer-range missiles for delivering nuclear bombs to between 500 and 1,100. The limit for warheads would be no more than 1,675 each.

Medvedev called it a "reasonable compromise."

Under current treaties, each country is allowed a maximum of 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles.

Obama also said he expected to complete a review of the US plan for building missile defense systems in Europe by the end of the summer.

He said once the review is finished he will provide the Russian government with his assessment of how to resolve differences over the project. Obama said he expects that to lead to extensive negotiations.

Russia strongly opposes the US project, which was initiated by the administration of President George W. Bush.

Among the deals meant to sweeten Obama's two days of talks in Russia and show progress toward resetting badly damaged relations was permission from Moscow for the US to transport arms across its land and airspace into Afghanistan.


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