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Russia, U.S. might agree on new arms deal in few weeks - lawmaker

RIA Novosti


WASHINGTON, February 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and the United States may agree on a new arms reduction treaty after a phone conversation between the two presidents to take place soon, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Russia and the U.S. are currently in talks on a new deal to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1), the cornerstone of post-Cold War arms control agreement, which expired on December 5, 2009.

"A phone conversation between the two presidents is to take place in the next few days, it is being prepared now. It might be a breakthrough," said Konstantin Kosachyov, who heads the foreign affairs committee of the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, the State Duma.

Obama and Medvedev 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.

Kosachyov said the U.S. partners are more optimistic about the deal, saying that only few minor details are to be finished.

"The Russian side is more pessimistic, saying that some serious disagreements remain between the two states and that the U.S. side should show more flexibility... However, the possibility to complete the talks in the next two or three weeks is quite high," he said.

The Russian lawmaker also said the ties are getting better, but still require major improvements.

"The Russian-U.S. relations are making progress. They are better than during the last century but are there is still a room for improvement," he said. "However, the past year brought more expectations than results."

Kosachyov currently leads a delegation of the State Duma's foreign affairs committee, who arrived in Washington for talks on trade and economic ties with U.S. congressmen.

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