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By Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama urged President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday to keep separate the issue of economic sanctions on Russia from the pursuit of talks to reduce nuclear stockpiles. Trump, who takes office on Friday after winning the Nov. 8 election, said in an interview with the Times of London published on Monday that he would propose offering to end sanctions on Moscow in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal. Obama's administration imposed the sanctions in 2014 after Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine.
By Ann Saphir SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - With the U.S. economy close to full employment and inflation headed toward the Federal Reserve's 2 percent goal, it "makes sense" for the U.S. central bank to gradually lift interest rates, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday. "Waiting too long to begin moving toward the neutral rate could risk a nasty surprise down the road - either too much inflation, financial instability, or both," Yellen told the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. "In that scenario, we could be forced to raise interest rates rapidly, which in turn could push the economy into a new recession." The Fed raised short-term rates last month for only the second time since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when it slashed rates to near zero and began buying massive amounts of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to push down long-term borrowing costs.