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Russian Duma Approves New START With US

General view of Russian lower parliament chamber session in Moscow, Russia, 24 Dec 2010.

Russia's State Duma has ratified a landmark nuclear arms pact with the United States, sending the treaty to the upper house of parliament for final approval.

Following the vote Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama called Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to congratulate him. The White House says the two leaders pledged to build on this progress during the coming year.

The Duma voted 350-to-96 Tuesday in a third and final hearing in favor of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, pushing the accord another step closer to its enactment.

Russian lawmakers passed the arms reduction pact after attaching non-binding amendments to the treaty, matching similar earlier additions by the U.S. Senate. The additional language does not alter the text of the accord.

The pact restricts each nation to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads, which is about a 30 percent reduction from a limit set in 2002.

The U.S. Senate voted 71-to-26 in favor of the accord in December.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the New START last April. It replaces an arms control treaty signed in the waning days of the Cold War in 1991.