YOKOHAMA, Japan — President Barack Obama assured Russian President Dimitri Medvedev today that a vote in the U.S. Senate on the new START nuclear treaty should occur when Congress returns, calling it a "top priority" of his administration.
"I reiterated my commitment to getting the START treaty done during the lame-duck session," Obama said. He made the assertion during an appearance with his Russian counterpart after they held talks on the sidelines of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Yokohama, Japan.
The treaty is pending in the Senate, which is due to return next week for a postelection session. There has been resistance to the pact, principally from minority Republicans.
Obama declined to answer whether his administration was putting more money on the table to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile in order to win GOP support for the pact.
Obama also said he believes Medvedev is reforming the political system in Russia and is moving the country forward. He said he supports Medvedev's pursuit of membership in the World Trade Organization — a point the Russian leader reinforced as he and Obama appeared briefly before reporters and camera crews.
Obama and Medvedev spoke of a close relationship they have and called each other friends and partners. Obama extended thanks to Moscow for cooperation on Afghanistan and on a host of international issues ranging from the Middle East to Sudan.