Barack Obama

Obama hopes Senate will ratify START by November

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said he hoped the Senate would ratify a major arms reduction treaty with Russia by November, after the Senate majority leader expressed doubt that it could happen before 2011.

“I’d like to see it happen before the election,” the Democratic president said, referring to U.S. congressional elections due on November 2. He was speaking in an interview with Russia’s state-run Rossiya television channel broadcast on Saturday.

But, the Senate faces a large workload between now and the election, including tougher regulation of the financial industry and confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, cautioned in April that ratification of the new treaty, a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), may not happen until early 2011.

Senate consent is required for the treaty -- which would reduce deployed nuclear warheads of the United States and Russia by about 30 percent -- to go into force.

Obama said his administration planned to put the text of the treaty and its annexes before the Senate in “short order” in the hope that the chamber would act quickly.

The treaty is expected to be submitted to the Senate this month. Russia’s parliament, the Duma, also needs to approve the deal.

The treaty represents a major foreign policy success for both Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, whom the U.S. president described as a “strong leader, a good man.”

“I find it very easy to do business with him, and I think we’ve established a relationship, a real trust that can be hopefully bearing fruit in the negotiations and conversations that we have in years to come.”

Obama said he had invited Medvedev to visit the United States late next month.

Reporting by Ross Colvin; editing by Mohammad Zargham