US, Russia near `finish line` on N-disarmament deal
Washington: The United States and Russia are within sight of a new deal to slash their nuclear arsenals but certain "principles and elements" have yet to settled, a top US official said on Wednesday.
"We are at the end game -- we see the finish line – of negotiations in the START follow-on treaty," US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher told a conference on nuclear deterrence in Washington.
"There are principles and elements that are still yet to be finished in these negotiations. But I am confident that the teams are working hard and the finish line is within sight."
Russia`s Ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, who addressed the conference after Tauscher, said he agreed with "almost each and every word" that she had said about the state of the negotiations in Geneva.
"Mind you, the closer you come to the endgame the bigger each and every small detail becomes," he added.
The upbeat assessments were echoed in Moscow by the head of the Russian armed forces, General Nikolay Makarov.
"The accord is 97-percent finalised by the parties. Some technical issues remain which will be resolved very soon," Makarov said, according to Russian news agencies.
Negotiations on a replacement to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expired on December 5, have dragged on for months despite periodic reports that the two sides were near agreement.
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