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Russia, US aim for nuke arms deal by Dec: Kremlin

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MOSCOW (AFP/PTI): Russia and the United States hope to have a legally binding document renewing a key agreement on limiting their nuclear arsenals by the beginning of December, the Kremlin said Sunday.

The two sides started talks in Geneva last week on the renewal of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) which expires on December 5.

"Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama are counting on preparing a legally binding document on the START agreement by the beginning of December," the Kremlin said in a statement after the presidents had a phone conversation.

"To this end, supplementary consultations will take place at different levels," it said.

Washington and Moscow agreed earlier this year to reach a new nuclear deal to succeed START, marking the first tangible step in the thaw in US-Russian relations heralded by Obama's administration.

START, signed in 1991 just before the break-up of the Soviet Union, bound both sides to deep cuts in their nuclear arsenals.

Negotiations have been dogged by bargaining over the deployment of the US missile defence shield in ex-Soviet states in Eastern Europe, a project that has angered Russia.

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