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'Russia-US nuclear treaty ready soon'

US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev believe Moscow and Washington are close to reaching agreement on a new nuclear disarmament treaty, the Kremlin said Saturday.

world Updated: Mar 14, 2010 01:32 IST

US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev believe Moscow and Washington are close to reaching agreement on a new nuclear disarmament treaty, the Kremlin said Saturday.

US and Russian negotiators have been meeting in Geneva to discuss a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), a landmark Cold War-era nuclear arms pact which expired in December.

In a telephone conversation on Saturday, both leaders "expressed satisfaction with the highly advanced state of preparations" for the new accord, the Kremlin said in a statement.

During their talks, "it was stressed that it is already possible to set firm dates to submit the draft agreement to the heads of state for their signature," it said, without giving a specific timeframe.

Medvedev and Obama "agreed to give additional instructions to the delegations" with a view to finalising a deal, it said.

Signed in 1991, START led to huge reductions in the US and Russian nuclear arsenals and imposed verification measures to build trust between the two former Cold War foes.

Agreeing a replacement for the treaty has been a foreign-policy priority for the Obama administration and a deal would help bolster the US leader's stated goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.