Russia, U.S. determined to clinch new START treaty soon: diplomat

10:33, March 12, 2010      

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Russia and the United States are equally keen on signing a new nuclear arms reduction treaty soon, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

"Both sides are determined to make sure that the new treaty will be signed in the very near future," spokesman Andrei Nesterenko was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying at a news briefing.

Nesterenko reiterated that the talks on a new arms control deal were "in the final stage now." He said most of the pact's text had been agreed on.

"Intensive work is continuing" at the negotiations in Geneva to completely coordinate all provisions of the draft of the new treaty, he said.

Nesterenko also said that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was to take part in a meeting of the quartet of mediators on the Middle East in Moscow, would discuss the work on a new arms treaty next week.

The top diplomats would "attach primary importance to the promotion of the negotiating process in Geneva," Nesterenko said.

He said the coordination on non-proliferation would be another theme for discussion in view of an international nuclear security summit scheduled for April in Washington.

Russia and the United States have been working on a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) that expired on Dec. 5, but they failed to reach a deal before the end of 2009.

Russian and U.S. negotiators resumed nuclear disarmament talks in Geneva on Tuesday after a 10-day break.

Lavrov said Tuesday that a new Russia-U.S. treaty on nuclear arms reduction could be signed within two or three weeks. However, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the same day that Washington did not intend to "rush the negotiations."

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