April 8, 2010 / 11:23 AM / 7 years ago

Arms pact stops drift in Russia-U.S. relations: Obama

PRAGUE (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said the signing of a new nuclear arms reduction treaty on Thursday had stopped the deterioration in Russian-U.S. relations, and they were working together to pass strong sanctions on Iran.

Obama said he came to office promising to reset ties with Russia which had soured over U.S. plans for missile defense and Russia's brief war with Georgia in 2008, a goal Russian President Dmitry Medvedev shared.

"As he said at our first meeting in London, our relationship had started to drift, making it difficult to cooperate on issues of common interest to our people," Obama said.

"Together, we have stopped that drift," Obama said after the two men signed a new nuclear pact that will cut their arsenals by about a third.

He said Russia and the United States and a coalition of leading powers wanted to ensure Iran respected its commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty not to develop nuclear arms.

"We are working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran and we will not tolerate actions that flout the NPT," he said.

Iran denies Western accusations that it is seeking to develop atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear program, saying it wants nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

Writing by Jon Boyle; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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