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Russian senior MPs split on START, positive on US ties after mid-term polls

Stealth Bomber in FlightMoscow, 3 November: The movement towards ratification of the new START treaty will be continued despite the fact that the Republicans won most of the seats in the US House of Representatives in the midterm elections on Tuesday (2 November), the chairman of the Federation Council's international affairs committee, Mikhail Margelov, has said. The Americans voted to elect the entire House of Representatives (435 members) and about a third of senate members (37 senators out of 100). The Republicans won the majority of seats in the House of Representatives, but were not able to achieve a majority in the Senate, leaving President Barack Obama an opportunity to carry out his political line.

"The fact that the Democrats have kept the majority of seats in the Senate, notwithstanding the loss of some seats, allows them to continue Barack Obama's foreign policy and carry on with the "reset" in relations with Russia, to move towards ratification of the START-3 treaty and comply with all agreements that Russia and the USA have reached in the recent years," Margelov said.

He said that, even if the republicans had won the Senate, the US foreign policy agenda would not have changed sharply at least with regard to Russia. However, Russia feels more comfortable continuing work "with the people with whom we started it".

Speaking about the Republicans' victory in the US midterm elections, Margelov said that it would allow the Republicans to block President Obama's medical and tax reforms, fight the reduction of state expenditures, install their own speaker and representatives in the committees of the House of Representatives.

"It is exactly the Republicans who will now be raising the question of repealing the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment after what we hope to become Russia's successful accession to the WTO," the senator said.

He expressed the hope that both the Republicans and the Democrats would realize that the USA's lasting security was impossible without relations of stability and partnership with Russia.

"We are still ready for this," Margelov said. (Passage omitted to end)

(According to Ekho Moskvy news agency, Moscow, in Russian at 1037 gmt on 3 Nov, the head of the State Duma committee for international affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, said that the Republicans' achievements in the US congressional elections would strengthen their determination to stop the ratification of the START treaty. The electoral victory "will be interpreted by the Republicans as a confirmation that their criticism of President Obama in all areas, including those of foreign policy, is valid," Kosachev said, adding that "in the future, the Democrats will find themselves even farther from the required two-thirds of the (vote) necessary for the ratification of the START treaty than they are today, when they are eight votes short".

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