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Russian, U.S. MPs to discuss new arms cuts treaty after April's nuclear summit

RIA Novosti


WASHINGTON, February 5 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. and Russian members of parliament will meet in Washington to discuss the ratification of a nuclear arms reduction pact to replace the outdated START treaty after a nuclear summit due in the U.S. capital in April, a senior Russian lawmaker has said.

Disagreements over verification and control procedures prevented Moscow and Washington from signing a new deal before the New Year break to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1), which expired on December 5.

The U.S. capital will host the nuclear security summit on April 12-13.

"The work on the text [of a new treaty] is almost completed. After the presidents sign the treaty... it will be the task of the [U.S.] Senate and Russia's Federal Assembly... to ratify the agreement," Mikhail Margelov, the chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, said.

The Russian and U.S. presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, ordered a speedy completion of the deal last week. A new round of talks on the treaty began on Monday.

On Wednesday, Russian presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko said Russia and the United States may sign the new pact in March or April.

Margelov, who had arrived in Washington on Wednesday to prepare a coordinated ratification of the treaty, expressed hope that the treaty would be signed before or during the nuclear summit in Washington.

Russia and U.S. had not discussed nuclear arms control and non-proliferation for 20 years, he said.

"Senators, who work in the U.S. Senate today, do not remember discussions of the late 1980s - early 1990s on the previous similar treaty. Many members of the Russian parliament also do not remember how it was. That is why a lot of educational work is needed," he said.

"That is why we agreed today with my colleague from the Senate, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, to organize immediately after the April nuclear summit a joint meeting of our... working group here, in Washington... in order to discuss our working schedule, as the presidents agreed on the coordinated ratification of the treaty," Margelov said.

He said critics of the new Russian-U.S. treaty would also be involved in the talks.

"It is important that it [the meeting] could take place after the presidents sing the treaty. Then, even the most deep-rooted critics would see that the executive power moves forward," he said.

Medvedev and Obama pledged at their first meeting in April 2009 to replace the START I treaty as part of broader efforts to "reset" bilateral ties strained in recent years.

The new treaty's outline, as agreed on by the Russian and U.S. leaders, includes cutting nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000.

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