Russian and US ready to compromise on nuke weapons:Lavrov

Publish date: May 11, 2009

Russia's foreign minister has signaled Moscow's readiness for compromise on a new nuclear arms control agreement with the United States and said he hopes for a deal by year's end, news reports said Tuesday.

Sergey Lavrov praised President Barack Obama’s administration for taking a constructive stance in talks with Russia, adding that diplomats from both nations are now working on detailed platforms on arms control, Russian news agencies reported.

Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will discuss the issue when they meet in Moscow on July 6-8 and give directives on how to proceed, Lavrov said.

Lavrov said preliminary contacts have shown that "there is a good chance to bring our positions closer and reach agreements." He added, "The U.S. approach seems very constructive to me."

Enacting large slashes in the nuclear arms stockpiles of both counties has been a signature initiative of the Obama Administration, and much of the international clout the young presidency will yield will be determined by the talks.  

Lavrov spoke to Russian reporters after returning from a visit to the United States where he held talks with Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Obama and Medvedev agreed during their meeting in London last month to fast-track negotiations on an agreement to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, which expires in December.

"We hope that by the year’s end we will be able to negotiate a mutually acceptable text of a new treaty, although we are pressed by time," Lavrov said.

He said Russia would like a new deal to count all nuclear warheads, including those in storage. But he signaled that there is a room for compromise, adding that Moscow is ready to listen to the U.S. arguments to the contrary.