Obama, Medvedev discuss START
Honolulu - President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev spoke on Thursday about a new nuclear weapons treaty that is expected to deepen ties between the two nations, the White House said.
"President Medvedev congratulated President Obama on the Senate's approval of the New START Treaty and the two leaders agreed that this was a historic event for both countries and for U.S.-Russia relations," the White House said in a read-out of the telephone conversation.
The US Senate ratified the treaty on Wednesday in a 71-26 vote. Russian lawmakers said they need time to examine the treaty before giving it their own approval, despite hopes they would act more quickly.
The Senate vote was an endorsement of Obama's efforts to improve relations with Russia and curb the pursuit of nuclear weapons by North Korea and Iran, for which Washington has enlisted Moscow's help, among other issues.
"The two leaders had a very productive year working together," the White House said.
Alongside START, it cited Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran sanctions and the 123 Agreement on sharing nuclear technology and materials as examples of the cooperation.
"President Obama also underscored the importance of the United States and Russia working together to support a peaceful referendum in Sudan and a resolution to the impasse in Cote D'Ivoire that respects the results of the recent democratic election," the White House said.
The United Nations said on Thursday at least 173 people have been killed in Ivory Coast in recent days in violence stemming from last month's disputed election.
The Obama administration has repeatedly urged Ivory Coast's incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, to stand down after the November 28 vote, which the United Nations says he lost.
The White House has also spoken forcefully about the risks to peace in Sudan ahead of a Jan. 9 referendum on independence for the country's oil-rich south.