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Russia, US new nuclear treaty in progress: Moscow

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MOSCOW (AFP): Russia said that its talks with the United States on a new nuclear disarmament treaty were still on track, despite reports that disagreements were holding up the negotiations.

"The intention of both sides is to guarantee the possibility of signing a new treaty as soon as possible," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told journalists.

US and Russian negotiators have been meeting in Geneva this week to discuss a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), a landmark Cold War-era nuclear arms pact which expired in December last year.

Agreeing a replacement for START has been a foreign-policy priority for the administration of US President Barack Obama, and a deal would help bolster Obama's stated goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

When asked whether the START talks had stalled due a dispute over US missile defence, Nesterenko said: "We have never spoken of any disagreements. A normal process of negotiation is under way."

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Obama had been "frustrated" after a February phone call with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, who told him Moscow wanted to reopen issues that Washington had thought settled.

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