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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Praises U.S. Arms Talks

The Foreign Ministry said Thursday that talks with the United States on reducing vast arsenals of Cold War nuclear weapons were proceeding constructively ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to Moscow next month.

It also called for a meeting next year that would bring Western powers together with Russian-dominated regional groups for a broad discussion of security issues.

Finding a replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty before it expires on Dec. 5 would mark a thaw in relations between the world's two biggest nuclear powers.

The two sides are seeking to narrow differences before Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev meet in Moscow on July 6 to 8. Both countries have already stated their desire to reset relations, which deteriorated to near-Cold War levels.

"There is an active negotiating process going on at the moment to work out an agreement that would replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told reporters at a weekly briefing. "The negotiations are taking place in a constructive and businesslike manner. We count on the presidents being able to make an announcement on interim results at the July summit," he said.

The next round of U.S.-Russia negotiations on START will take place Tuesday and Wednesday in Geneva, he said. Two rounds of talks have already taken place.

Nesterenko said the summit agenda would concentrate on improving practical cooperation, for example on countering nuclear proliferation, but would also discuss Afghan elections in August and broader political and economic ties.

A business forum attended by business leaders from both the United States and Russia will coincide with Obama's visit, Nesterenko said.

Meanwhile, Nesterenko said Moscow was proposing an official meeting in 2010 bringing together leaders of NATO, the EU, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and two groups of former Soviet republics — the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

The organizations would discuss their security strategies and "work out coordinated approaches with the aim of forming an indivisible security space in the region," Nesterenko said.

Russian officials have raised the idea of such a meeting before, and Nesterenko did not say whether it had made a formal proposal. The initiative is part of a Kremlin push for a new security treaty.

(Reuters, AP)