U.S., Russia said to be near arms deal

A new arms-control treaty between the United States and Russia is nearly complete, the White House said.

Progress on a pact was detailed in a brief statement Wednesday.

“President Obama spoke with President Medvedev of Russia to thank him for his hard work and leadership on the New START treaty negotiations, as the two sides have made steady progress in recent weeks,” the White House said.

“The presidents agreed that negotiations are nearly complete, and pledged to continue the constructive contacts that have advanced U.S.-Russian relations over the last year.”

Talks are expected to resume next week in Geneva, Switzerland.

Obama hailed the developments during Wednesday’s State of the Union address.

“The United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms-control treaty in nearly two decades,” he said.

The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, commonly known as START, expired on December 5, but the leaders agreed to honor its spirit until a new treaty could be negotiated to replace it.

Obama and Medvedev, who met in mid-December in Copenhagen, Denmark, had hoped to sign an agreement by the end of 2009, but fell short of reaching a deal.

At the time, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley cited a few hurdles to an agreement, including the complexity of the weapons systems, agreement on the numbers of warhead reductions, and verification, but held out hope for a deal in early 2010.


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