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Medvedev, Obama to rev up arms control talks

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, February 24 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian and U.S. presidents will direct their respective delegations to speed up talks on a new arms control agreement, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

The Kremlin press service said Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama had agreed on the move during a telephone conversation.

Medvedev and Obama have made replacing START 1, the cornerstone of post-Cold War arms control, part of their broader efforts to "reset" bilateral ties strained in recent years.

Officials have said an agreement between Russia and the United States to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expired on December 5 last year, is nearly ready and could be struck in the next two or three weeks.

However, Moscow, which views U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense system in Europe as a direct threat to its security, has said further cuts in offensive nuclear weapons will not be practical unless the sides put limits on nuclear defense projects, which could create an atmosphere of distrust.

Washington says the missile shield is needed to guard against potential Iranian strikes and would pose no threat to Russia, but in a clear move to ease Moscow's concerns, Obama last year scrapped plans to deploy interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic.

Earlier this month, however, Romania and Bulgaria said they were in talks with Obama's administration on deploying elements of the U.S. missile shield on their territories from 2015.

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

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