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US and Russia Make Nuclear Progress

Russia and the United States have made "substantial progress" on a nuclear arms control deal and other security issues, the US secretary of state said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) meets with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow March 18, 2010. Clinton visited Russia on Thursday to clear obstacles to a new treaty cutting arsenals of nuclear weapons and to seek Moscow's backing for tougher sanctions against Iran. (REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin) Hillary Clinton, speaking alongside Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, after talks in Moscow, said she expected the two sides to sign a successor to an expired 1991 treaty soon.

"The results of the latest negotiation rounds lead us to believe we'll be reaching a final agreement soon," she said, on the first of two days of talks in Moscow.

Lavrov on Thursday said that both countries were "at the finish line" in negotiations for a new nuclear arms control agreement.

The long-awaited replacement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty - which expired on December 5 - is a pillar of the so-called reset in relations between the Cold War foes.

Barack Obama, the US president, and Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, called for a quick signing at their Moscow summit in July, but negotiations stalled over issues of counting, verification and US plans for a missile defense system in Europe.

Broad agreements

Clinton arrived in Moscow on Thursday and was to be joined by George Mitchell, President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, for talks with diplomats from Russia, the EU and the UN.

They were to discuss the crisis in US-Israeli relations and stalled efforts to restart Middle East peace negotiations.

Clinton was meeting one-on-one with Lavrov, and the two were then to meet their UN and EU colleagues on Thursday night.

Together they form the so-called Quartet of Middle East peacemakers who are scheduled to hold formal talks on the peace process on Friday.

 Source: Agencies
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