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Russia, US meet in Geneva for disarmament talks

Geneva — Russia and the United States were set to pursue talks on a key nuclear arms reduction treaty for a third day, diplomats said Tuesday, as Moscow suggested that an initial deal could be ready by July.

Russian and US negotiators "ended their discussions for today and will continue tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Russian mission," a Russian diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations in Geneva said, "The talks will continue tomorrow on 3 June for a half day as planned."

But officials from both sides in Geneva were silent about their second round of negotiations on replacing the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which will continue in a US-Russian summit on 6-8 July.

A Kremlin spokeswoman said in Moscow Tuesday that Russia does not rule out reaching initial agreement with the United States on nuclear arms cuts by the time US President Barack Obama meets President Dmitry Medvedev in the Russian capital.

"A complicated process is under way," said Medvedev’s spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova.

"I wouldn’t say that we won’t be able to achieve a more concrete accord," she told journalists in a telephone briefing, adding it was "too early to draw conclusions."

START, signed in 1991 just before the breakup of the Soviet Union, required both sides cut their nuclear arsenals.

The agreement in 2009 to seek its replacement before it expires on 5 December marked the first step in improved US-Russian relations brought by the Obama administration.

However, in addition to the technical issues involved in the disarmament treaty, the negotiations are troubled by bargaining over US plans for a missile defence shield partly stationed in Europe, a project which angered Russia.

AFP / Expatica