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Third round of Russia-U.S. nuclear talks set for June 22


AMSTERDAM, June 20 (RIA Novosti) - The third round of Russia-U.S. talks on a new nuclear disarmament treaty will start in Geneva on June 22, Russian presidential spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said Saturday.

Earlier the Russian Foreign Ministry said the third round of START talks will take place on June 23-24. There have been two rounds of Russia-U.S. arms reduction talks (May 19-20 in Moscow and June 1-3 in Geneva).

President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier Saturday he hopes his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in July in Moscow will promote a new nuclear disarmament treaty.

"We are ready to cut our strategic delivery vehicles by several times compared to the START-1 treaty. As for warheads connected with these delivery vehicles, their number should be lower than the level envisioned by the Moscow Treaty of 2002," Medvedev told journalists.

"We are for real, effective and checkable cuts," he said, adding that at the meeting with Obama they will also discuss economic and regional problems, as well as other aspects of bilateral relations.

Under the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START-1), which expires on December 5, Russia and the United States are to reduce their nuclear warheads to 6,000 and their delivery vehicles to 1,600 each.

In 2002, a follow-up agreement on strategic offensive arms reduction was concluded in Moscow. The agreement, known as the Moscow Treaty, envisioned cuts to 1,700-2,200 warheads by December 2012.

Medvedev and Obama agreed during their London meeting in early April on an immediate start to talks on a new strategic arms reduction treaty.

Medvedev also said Saturday that strategic arms reductions are possible should Washington alleviate Moscow's concerns over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense shield in Central Europe.

"We cannot agree with U.S. plans to create a global missile defense, I would like to stress that the cuts we propose are only possible if the U.S. alleviates Russia's concerns," he said.

Russia opposes Washington's plans to deploy interceptor missiles in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic as a threat to its security. The United States says the shield elements are needed to counter possible strikes from rogue states such as Iran.

Obama has indicated he could put on hold his predecessor George Bush's plans concerning the Third Site for Washington's global missile defense system, which he said needed more analysis.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday he hopes the U.S. understands well Russia's position, voiced by Medvedev, that the arms cuts should be linked to the resolution of the issue of the U.S. planned missile defense shield in Central Europe.

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