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Obama Meets With Russian, Chinese Leaders on Sidelines of G20

President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a joint statement Wednesday on renewed cooperation, saying they will work to put a new nuclear arms reduction deal in place before the existing treaty expires in December.

The leaders reaffirmed the countries’ ties, saying in the statement that the “era when our countries viewed each other as enemies is long over.” President Obama reinforced that message when talking to reporters after his meeting with Medvedev.

“Over the last several years, the relationship between our two countries has been allowed to drift,” Mr. Obama said. “What I believe we’ve begun today is a very constructive dialogue that will allow us to work on issues of mutual interest.”

The two agreed to have nuclear negotiators start talks immediately and to report on progress towards a new agreement by July. President Obama told reporters that he plans to travel to Moscow around that time.

The 1991 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, which will expire this year, limits the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads. A new cap for nuclear arms has not yet been decided.

The White House also announced that China’s President Hu Jintao and President Obama agreed to resume human rights discussions and work together on nuclear issues.

President Obama accepted an invitation from President Hu to visit China later this year, and the White House said in a statement that Hu agreed to “intensify coordination and cooperation on global economic and financial issues.”

The two leaders agreed to work together on nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran, as well as the humanitarian situation in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The two countries also agreed to form a U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would represent the United States during those talks.

The meetings came as leaders from the G20 nations and the European Union prepare for talks Thursday on measures to improve the global financial system and boost the world’s faltering economies.

The summit could prove contentious with the U.S. and Great Britain advocating for coordinated international stimulus spending, a strategy that has been rejected by several EU member states, including Germany, who wants to focus on financial system reforms.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, has threatened to walk out of the G20 if it does not agree the substantive reform to global financial regulations.

President Obama has dismissed the play-up of tensions at the conference as a “phony debate”, saying both stimulus and regulation are needed, reported Agence France Presse.,

Protests are planned across London for the G20 summit, by advocates of change to global capitalism. A reported 10,500 police officers are being used in the G20 security operation, the Metropolitan Police said, according to news agencies.

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