Clinton predicts new arms deal

March 6, 2009 12:41:28 PM PST
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton predicted on Friday that the United States and Russia will complete a new strategic arms reduction treaty by the end of this year and that Moscow and Washington can find common ground on other issues. "We intend to have an agreement by the end of the year," she told a news conference after two hours of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Clinton said she expects President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in coming weeks to instruct negotiators from both capitals to complete an arms treaty to replace the one that went into effect in 1991 and is due to expire on Dec. 31.

Lavrov said he also expects a deal to be completed on time.

The negotiations have not begun, but Clinton said Friday's talks in Geneva produced agreement on the need to quickly establish a set of priorities and a negotiating agenda that could be presented to Obama and Medvedev before they meet in London in a few weeks.

Clinton said talks with Lavrov were a "fresh start" in resetting relations between the two former Cold War foes.

Clinton says the discussions touched on the two nations' mutual interest in advancing nuclear disarmament and on growing concerns about Iranian nuclear development and instability in Afghanistan.

She said the talks did not produce any formal agreements, but both sides expressed interest in restarting nonproliferation talks. Clinton also expressed gratitude for Russian willingness to allow U.S. nonmilitary shipments to transit through its borders to Afghanistan.

Clinton said they had "a very productive meeting of the minds on the range of issues" expected to be broached in future talks.

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