WASHINGTON, DC  – Today Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee commended President Obama and Russian President Medvedev on their decision to begin bilateral negotiations towards reducing strategic offensive arms.

 “I welcome the joint statement by Presidents Medvedev and Obama to begin bilateral negotiations to work out a new, comprehensive agreement on reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms. 

 “By announcing their intention to develop a new agreement before the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) expires in December, the Russian Federation and the United States are clearly signaling a renewed commitment to their joint efforts to reduce international nuclear dangers by securing weapons, materials and technologies. 

 “Indeed, the joint statements issued today specifically cite the obligation both nations have under the Nonproliferation Treaty and reaffirm their commitment to numerous ongoing efforts to protect nuclear weapons and materials, and combat nuclear terrorism.

 “I also commend them for seeking reductions that enhance stability and can be effectively verified.  While acknowledging that differences remain over the role of ballistic missile defenses, they have promised a new emphasis on arms control and conflict resolution.

 “I recognize that these negotiations will not be easy, but this renewed emphasis on diplomacy promises to reinvigorate international efforts and continue down the road towards nuclear reduction.”