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US, Russia to Reopen Nuclear Talks

The United States and Russia have agreed to reopen talks on reducing long-range nuclear weapons. The announcement was made as U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev met in London, the site of the G20 economic summit.

President Obama and Mr. Medvedev say it is time to begin a new era in U.S.-Russian relations.

They are starting with a pledge to reduce strategic offensive arms.

"What I believe we have begun today is a very constructive dialogue that will allow us to work on issues of mutual interest, like the reduction of nuclear weapons and the strengthening of our non-proliferation treaties," said Mr. Obama.

In a written statement issued as they met in London, they announced the first substantive round of arms talks between their two countries in more than a decade.

New arms deal?

They say they are instructing their negotiators to begin work on a new arms deal to replace the soon-to-expire Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was signed in 1991.

The goal is to go well beyond the so-called START agreement, which limited their nuclear arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the two countries have not settled on a new cap. But as he sat down with the Russian leader for the first time, President Obama sounded optimistic.

"What we are seeing today is the beginning of new progress in U.S.-Russian relations," he said.

President plans July visit to Moscow

Mr. Obama said he has accepted an invitation to visit Russia in July, when negotiators on the new treaty are expected to report back to their respective governments.

"The president extended an invitation for me to visit Moscow, to build on some of the areas that we discussed today, and I have agreed to visit Moscow in July, which we both agreed was a better time than January to visit," he said.

Medvedev: better relations possible

President Medvedev joined Mr. Obama's assessment that U.S. Russian relations have been drifting in recent years, and drifting in the wrong direction.

Speaking in Russian, he talked about the prospects for improving cooperation, saying there are many concerns the two countries can address together, even though they have differences in other areas.

Administration officials say President Obama did not shy away from raising those differences during his talks with the Russian president. They say the discussions covered the situation in Georgia, and the dispute over a pending U.S. plan to put components of a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.