x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Russia ready to reduce nuclear arms

The federation president Dmitry Medvedev says the country wants 'a verifiable and real reduction of such arms'.

Russia is ready to significantly reduce its nuclear arms, the president Dmitry Medvedev said ahead of today's scheduled talks on the topic with US President Barack Obama. "We are ready to decrease the number of our strategic defence arms several times compared to START 1," Mr Medvedev told journalists in Amsterdam, referring to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Russia is re-negotiating with the US.

The number of warheads should be "lower than in the Moscow agreement" he said, referring to a 2002 treaty that requires each side to limit its arsenal to a maximum of 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads by 2012. Mr Medvedev was speaking through an interpreter after meeting the Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende on the last of a two-day official visit. The president said he was looking forward "very optimistically" to the July US-Russia summit, hopeful of a revival of ties that "in previous years corroded quite a bit".

"We want new, binding agreements" on the START treaty, Mr Medvedev said, adding that international security "depends on relationships between states with nuclear potential". "We want a verifiable and real reduction of such arms." The 1991 US-Russia treaty, which limits the deployment of each country's nuclear arsenals, is due to expire on December 5. But negotiations on replacing or renewing the pact have hit several snags, including disagreement over US plans to deploy elements of a global missile shield in eastern Europe.

A third round of talks between officials of each side will take place in Geneva on June 23 and 24, the Russian foreign ministry said on Thursday. "The talks are proceeding in a constructive and businesslike tone. We are working from the assumption that at the July summit the presidents will be able to announce the interim results," a ministry spokesman told reporters in Moscow. Mr Medvedev and Mr Balkenende said they had discussed issues of economic cooperation, particularly in the field of energy. Both countries are big natural gas producers.

"We discussed energy security and how this should be strengthened in Europe," said Mr Medvedev. "We agreed to do that by strengthening the legal framework," he added, without elaborating. *AFP