Medvedev and Obama speed up START talks

Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama have agreed to speed up talks on the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START.

The decision was reached during a phone call between the two leaders on Wednesday.

The new deal is purported to call for dramatic cuts in the atomic arsenals of both sides, and replace the previous treaty that expired in December last year.

Intense negotiations between Moscow and Washington have dragged on for months, with both sides repeatedly promising to reach agreement soon.

However, Russia has made it clear that any deal must also take into account America's missile defence plans – an issue that's hampered progress between the two countries.

Mikhail Troitsky, political analyst from the Moscow office of the MacArthur Foundation, said there are two reasons behind Russia’s insistence to include the missile defence issue in the START treaty.

“First, Russia wants to preserve the credibility of its nuclear deterrent and it would prefer to avoid a situation in which the US might believe that it is at least partially protected from Russia's potential retaliatory strike. Secondly, Russia is concerned with potential offensive uses of the missile defence infrastructure, which the US seeks to introduce in Eastern Europe,” Troitsky says.