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CIS: Russia, US agree summit text on weapons cuts: report

Mon Jul 6 19:34:48 EST 2009

MOSCOW, July 6 AFP - US and Russian officials have agreed the text of a declaration to be signed by the two countries' presidents on a framework for replacing a key Cold War-era disarmament treaty, a report said on Monday.

"The text of the document has been agreed," the Interfax news agency quoted a Russian foreign ministry source as saying, a few hours after US President Barack Obama left Washington for Moscow. He is due to hold talks there with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

There was no immediate confirmation of the report from US or Russian officials.

The same news agency had on Sunday afternoon quoted a foreign ministry source as saying the text had still not been agreed, with time running out ahead of the summit.

The signing of the declaration on replacing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) - due to expire in December - is expected to be a major outcome of summit talks between Obama and Medvedev.

Medvedev's chief foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko said last week the document on replacing START would not be a legally binding agreement but a broad political document with a set of guidelines for negotiators.

While the document would not have dates, it should contain numerical targets for cuts in arms, Prikhodko said. He predicted the new treaty could be signed by the start of next year.

Medvedev and Obama have said the number of warheads should be lower than the targets set out in the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), also called the Moscow Treaty.

SORT called for both countries to reduce the number of deployed warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 on either side by 2012.

However a potential sticking point in talks could be a US plan to install missile defence facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic, an initiative Russia says threatens its security.