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Russia, US close to striking nuke disarmament deal

PARIS (AFP): Russia and the United States are getting close to a deal on reducing their nuclear arsenals through a follow-up to the START treaty, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and US officials have said.

"We are close to agreeing all issues," Medvedev told reporters in Paris on Monday.

"We are already agreeing on the nuances of the text. I hope that these talks will be brought to a conclusion in the nearest future."

Negotiations on a replacement to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between Moscow and Washington, which expired December 5, have dragged on for months despite reports that the two sides are near agreement.

In Washington, senior US officials speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed that a deal was in the offing, one adding that President Barack Obama plans "dramatic reductions" in the country's nuclear arsenal.

"We expect the negotiations will resume in Geneva on March 9," said another, referring to the talks with Russia, explaining that the negotiating teams had headed to their respective capitals for a "last round" of consultations.

The broad outlines of a new START replacement treaty on nuclear weapons have been clear since a summit in July, when Obama and Medvedev agreed to slash the number of warheads on either side to between 1,500 and 1,675.

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