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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arms Talks With U.S. Will Start Next Week

Russian and U.S. officials will begin negotiating a new deal next week to cut strategic nuclear weapons, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The deal aims to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and has been billed as part of an effort by Moscow and Washington to reset relations that hit a post-Cold War low under former U.S. President George W. Bush.

"The first official contact on this theme will take place on April 24 in Rome," chief ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told a news conference.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his U.S. counterpart, Hillary Clinton, have provisionally arranged to meet in May to discuss the progress in the talks ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's first visit to Russia in July, Nesterenko said.

At a meeting in London earlier this month, Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to begin talks on replacing START 1, a treaty that led to huge bilateral cuts in nuclear weapons but expires in December.

The proposed arms deal would go beyond the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which committed both sides to cutting arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by 2012.

According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Russia currently has 3,113 strategic warheads, compared with 3,575 for the United States. Russia sees START 1 as the cornerstone of post-Cold War arms control and believes that letting it lapse with no replacement could upset the strategic balance.