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Russia, US on `brink` of new arms treaty: Clinton

Last Updated: Friday, March 19, 2010 - 20:52

Moscow: Russia and the United States are "on the brink" of signing a new nuclear disarmament treaty after resolving all outstanding issues, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday.
Russian and US negotiators have been in intense talks to agree a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) which expired in December but have so far failed to reach a final accord.

"We are encouraged by progress on a new START treaty," Clinton said after talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"Our negotiating teams have reported that they had resolved all of the major issues. There are some technical issues that remain. But we are on the brink of signing a new agreement between the United States and Russia."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov echoed her upbeat comments on the chances for a new agreement, which would target drastic reductions in the nuclear arsenals of the Cold War-era foes.

"We believe that in the nearest time we can count on the finishing of negotiations on a new agreement," Lavrov said alongside Clinton.

The comments represented a clear indication by the top diplomats that a new treaty is close, after media reports said the search for a new agreement has been stymied by major policy differences.

However neither in their comments gave any hint of when and where a new treaty could be signed by Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev.

The Russian media has reported that the two presidents would like to sign the final agreement in an Eastern European capital before the United States hosts a nuclear security summit from April 12-13.

Obama and Medvedev in July agreed the new treaty should slash the number of warheads on either side to between 1,500 and 1,675. The United States currently has some 2,200 nuclear warheads, while Russia is believed to have about 3,000.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, March 19, 2010 - 20:52
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