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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

"Intrepid" U.S. team works hard on arms cuts with Russia

RIA Novosti

04:32 16/12/2009 WASHINGTON, December 15 (RIA Novosti) - The United States and Russia have made progress in their talks on strategic arms reductions, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday.

"The teams remain hard at work. They have made progress. I think we're getting very close to an agreement," Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley told a daily press briefing.

"Whether we can cross the finish line sooner, later - I think obviously, our focus is on getting the right agreement that meets our concerns and our interests, and obviously, those of Russia as well," Crowley said.

"Our goal is to get this done by the end of the year, and we'll just continue to work to see - evaluate those on a day-to-day basis. I mean, obviously, the hard work continues by our intrepid team in Geneva," he said.

The previous agreement, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1), the core of Russia-U.S. nuclear disarmament, expired December 5. Moscow and Washington have repeatedly voiced the urge to reach a new deal by the yearend.

Russia and the U.S. have been in intensive talks since July, when the two countries' leaders agreed the outline of a replacement to START 1.

Russian and U.S. presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama announced at their first meeting in April that the two countries would replace the START 1 treaty as part of their efforts to "reset" bilateral ties strained in recent years.

The treaty's outline agreed by the presidents included cutting nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000.

Russia's military said earlier the talks had thrown up differences on inspection and verification procedures.

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