Medvedev, Obama start talks at APEC summit in Japan

Medvedev, Obama start talks at APEC summit in Japan

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama are holding an informal meeting on Sunday to discuss a wide range of bilateral and global issues, RIA Novosti reported.

The meeting is held behind closed doors on the sidelines of the 2010 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Japan's Yokohama.

According to Russian officials, the agenda of the meeting includes Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the ratification of a new Russian-U.S. strategic arms reduction treaty and Russia's participation in the European missile shield project.

Both presidents are expected to announce the results of the talks shortly after the meeting.

WTO

Russia, the only major economy outside the global trade body, has been negotiating WTO membership for 17 years compared with an average accession period of five to seven years.

Medvedev's aide Arkady Dvorkovich said on Wednesday that Russia expects to join the WTO in 2011.

NEW START TREATY

Medvedev and Obama signed a new arms cuts treaty on April 8 in Prague to replace the START 1 agreement that expired in December 2009. The agreement will come into force only after being ratified by both chambers of the Russian parliament and the U.S. Senate.

The treaty has met strong Republican opposition in the Senate over concerns that it may weaken U.S. anti-missile defenses. The delay in ratification of the document could hamper progress in U.S.-Russian relations.

MISSILE DEFENSE

U.S. plans to deploy an anti-ballistic missile shield in Eastern Europe remains a bone of contention between Moscow and NATO. The United States says it would defend NATO territories against a possible missile threat from Iran, but Russia says there is no threat.

NATO has recently suggested that Russia could be part of a joint missile defense project for Europe, but Russia said a serious assessment of missile risks should be carried out before starting on the project.

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