Director-General of Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei welcomed Thursday the commitment of Russian President Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama to reduce nuclear arsenals and strengthen non-proliferation, reports say.

The two leaders of the second world war allies announced Wednesday that negotiators would immediately start talks on a new strategic arms reduction treaty that could cut the existing nuclear arsenals to below 1,700 warheads.

We agreed to pursue new and verifiable reductions in our strategic offensive arsenals in a step-by-step process, beginning by replacing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [START] with a new, legally-binding treaty, said a joint statement issued by the two leaders after a meeting in London on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief was greatly encouraged by the commitment of the two presidents to fulfill their obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, says an IAEA press release.

It noted that ElBaradei believed the commitment of the two presidents to pursue the verifiable reduction of their strategic offensive arsenals, demonstrates leadership and moves us beyond the Cold War mentality.

He was also encouraged by the taking effect of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) as well as the negotiation of a verifiable treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.

He believed all these measures would contribute to a universal adherence to comprehensive safeguards agreements, as well as the enhancement of the safeguards system and achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

He also welcomed the commitment of the two leaders to guarantee the peaceful use of nuclear energy for all countries and their support for the IAEA to pursue multinational approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle.

He supported the policy of the two presidents to pursue a direct and comprehensive diplomatic solution with Iran while guaranteeing that Islamic nation's right to a peaceful nuclear program. He also shared the view of the two presidents to expedite the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

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