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Clinton in Russia to Discuss Clinching New Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Moscow for talks with Russian leaders on clinching a new treaty to cut the nuclear arsenals of the two powers.

Clinton arrived in Moscow early Thursday ahead of meetings with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov later in the day and with President Dmitri Medvedev on Friday.

Russian and U.S. officials have spent almost a year trying to negotiate a new agreement to replace their 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, which expired last December.

U.S. President Barack Obama and President Medvedev agreed last year to further reduce their nations' stockpiles of nuclear weapons under a new treaty.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says all that remains is for negotiators to complete "purely technical" work on the draft treaty. He says he expects the treaty to be finalized by early April.

U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns said Wednesday the two sides are getting closer to a deal but declined to predict when the negotiations will be finished. He was speaking to reporters as he accompanied Clinton on her flight to Moscow.

The nuclear arms control negotiations are part of an effort by Mr. Obama to promote what he calls a "reset" of U.S.-Russian relations that were sometimes troubled under the preceding presidents of both nations.

The negotiations have bogged down in recent months due to Russian concerns about U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe and disagreements about how to verify nuclear arms cuts.

Clinton and Lavrov are due to attend a dinner in Moscow Thursday with other top officials from the Middle East Quartet of international peace mediators. The officials are scheduled to hold formal talks Friday about how to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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