Moscow and Washington to meet in November over START extension

Publish date: October 19, 2008

US and Russian officials will meet in Geneva next month to discuss whether to extend a treaty limiting nuclear arsenals that expires late next year, the State Department said on Friday, Reuters reported.

Russia has been asking whether Washington is serious about replacing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), signed in Moscow in 1991, which set ceilings on the size of the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals.

The two countries have already held extensive discussions about a post-START agreement "and we expect to continue those discussions," the State Department said in a statement.

"The parties to a START will meet in Geneva in mid-November to initiate this process."

The parties were obligated to meet no later than a year before the START treaty expires next December to begin consideration of whether or not to extend the treaty.

State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said he thought the meeting would be held at the "working level"  – meaning senior officials, below cabinet level, Reuters said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this month that Washington was upsetting the nuclear arms balance by failing to offer a replacement for START. He said this was needed more than ever as the United States is planning to place elements of a defensive missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.