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Russia's Lavrov and Clinton to meet for START talks in May


MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on May 7 to discuss the START agreement which expires at the end of this year.

The director of the North American Department at the Foreign Ministry, Igor Neverov, told RIA Novosti on Thursday that the first round of Russian-American expert-level consultations on preparing the new Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START) agreement would take place in Rome this week.

"There will be a meeting of experts in April, and the experts will continue to work until the minister (Lavrov) goes to Washington on May 7 to work at his level," Neverov said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday the new Russian-U.S. arms reduction deal to replace the START-1 treaty that expires in December should also cover delivery systems.

"In our view, the agreement to replace the START treaty should also limit the means of delivery of nuclear warheads, and not just the number of warheads. I mean by this intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine ballistic missiles and heavy bombers carrying nuclear loads," Dmitry Medvedev said during an official visit to Helsinki.

The START-1 treaty, signed in 1991, obliges Washington and Moscow to cut nuclear warheads to 6,000 and their delivery vehicles to 1,600 each. The treaty expires on December 5 this year.

In 2002, an additional agreement on strategic offensive reductions was concluded in Moscow. The agreement, known as the Moscow Treaty, envisioned cuts to 1,700-2,200 warheads by December 2012. However, that treaty is largely considered by analysts to be less effective than the START treaty.

Medvedev also said that during his recent London meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama it had been agreed that negotiators would immediately start talks on a new strategic arms reduction treaty.

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