New START – one more step forward

Russia and the US could be close to signing a new agreement on arms reduction - expected to slash their nuclear arsenals by about a quarter, according to Russia’s president.

The two countries’ leaders, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, discussed the final details of the pact in a telephone conversation on Saturday.

The Kremlin says the presidents reached a strong level of consensus and are ready to talk about a specific date for signing the new treaty.

"They had a good conversation and they looked upon progress and consensus concerning new START Treaty reached in Geneva,” stated press-secretary of the US National Security Council, Michael Hammer.

The previous Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty – known as START – was signed in 1991 and expired in December last year.

Under the original pact, the countries massively reduced their nuclear arsenals from the late Cold War levels.

The ongoing negotiations were officially launched last April, but reportedly stalled over the controversial American plans for a missile shield in Europe.