Prague: Prague has agreed to host the
signing of a new US-Russian treaty to reduce long-range
nuclear weapons, the Czech Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
The announcement is the clearest sign yet that
Washington and Moscow are close to completing the deal on an
accord to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or
START, which expired in December.
Ministry spokesman Filip Kanda said that Prague agreed
to host the signing of the accord by US President Barack Obama
and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev when the negotiators
reach a deal. He said negotiations have not been completed
"As an ally, we have consulted with the US side on an
option for us to complete the signing when a deal is done,"
Kanda said. "We`ve agreed," he said.
It was not clear if the plan for the signing ceremony
had also been discussed with the Russian government.
The negotiations are still under way in Geneva. The
treaty is likely to limit the number of deployed strategic
warheads by the United States and Russia. Any agreement would
need to be ratified by the legislatures of both countries and
would still leave each with a large number of nuclear weapons,
both deployed and stockpiled.
Both US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks in
Moscow last week that a deal was near - but not done.
The expired START treaty, signed by Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H W Bush, required each
country to cut its nuclear warheads by at least one-fourth, to
about 6,000, and to implement procedures for verifying that
each side was sticking to the agreement.
The two sides pledged to continue to respect the
expired treaty`s limits on nuclear arms and allow inspectors
to continue verifying that both sides were living up to the