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Obama Seeks US-Russia Arms Treaty Vote

President Barack Obama makes a statement to reporters after meeting with his staff and Cabinet members in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, 4 Nov 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama says he wants the U.S. Senate to ratify a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, known as START, before lawmakers adjourn at the end of the year.

Mr. Obama told reporters Thursday that the issue has traditionally received bipartisan support. He said ratification would send a strong signal to Russia that the U.S. is serious about reducing nuclear arsenals. He said it would also send a signal to the world that the U.S. is serious about nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

The treaty could face much more opposition in the Senate if lawmakers wait to vote on the issue until after an influx of new senators, including several more Republicans, take their seats in Congress in January. Members of the party have expressed concerns about the treaty limiting U.S. missile defense efforts or the modernization of the American nuclear arsenal.

The new balance of power in Congress could have an impact on international issues now that the House of Representatives has a Republican majority But most analysts expect there will be little effect on the president's Afghan war policy.

The START treaty would cut by 30 percent the number of strategic nuclear weapons that Moscow and Washington can deploy. It needs a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, for ratification in the Senate. Russia must also ratify the pact.

President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in April.

Earlier Thursday, while visiting New Zealand, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she believes there is enough support for the U.S. Senate to ratify the pact and that she prefers the Senate hold a vote before the end of this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.