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Russia upbeat on arms talks with US

Associated Press / January 23, 2010

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MOSCOW - Russia and the United States will resume stalled talks on a replacement nuclear arms reduction treaty in early February, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said yesterday.

Military officials are holding talks in Moscow to clarify differences over verification and missile defense, Lavrov said.

“The remaining questions will be solved rather quickly,’’ he told journalists. “The talks will resume in the very beginning of February.’’

US officials said earlier they expected talks to resume Monday in Geneva. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Jim Jones, a retired general who is President Obama’s national security adviser, were in Moscow this week to discuss treaty negotiations.

A new agreement would succeed the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, which expired Dec. 5. The countries had hoped to reach a deal before the end of the year, but problems persisted.

In late December, Moscow said it wanted Washington to share detailed data about the sea- and land-based systems the United States plans.

The systems would replace the interceptor missiles and radar that Washington had planned to base in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Russia treated the plans as a threat, and Obama scrapped them last year.