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7 Mar, 2009 13:18

Fresh START on strategic weapons

Russia and the United States want a new disarmament treaty to be signed by the end of this year. Both sides have called this a top priority in the process of ‘resetting’ their bilateral relations.

Speaking at a disarmament conference in Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:

“We are prepared, as was suggested by our American partners, to ”reset“ our relations. The conclusion of a new legally-binding Russian-American treaty on strategic offensive weapons could become a priority step in that direction.”

Sergey Lavrov and Hillary Clinton have agreed on a work plan towards renewing the current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I (START), which is due to expire on December 31.

Lavrov has called the current document ‘obsolete’ but said both parties could arrive at a common view, both in the context of strategic offensive weapons and missile defence.

The treaty, which was signed in 1991, committed the US and Russia to limit their arsenal to a maximum of 1,600 missiles and 6,000 warheads.

Hillary Clinton said they wanted to present a plan to US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev before they meet at the G20 meeting in London in April.

“This is a fresh start, not only to improve our bilateral relationship but to lead the world in important areas, particularly with respect to nuclear weapons and nuclear security,” said Clinton after the meeting in Geneva.