Hillary to push arms treaty

Hillary to push arms treaty

Washington to seek Moscows support for sanctions against Iran

Hillary to push arms treaty

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Moscow on Thursday. AP

President Barack Obama has attempted to “reset” relations with Russia after a stormy period under his predecessor George W Bush. But his administration needs results from its initiatives to counter Republican charges he is soft on Moscow.

Hillary’s 36-hour visit to Russia includes a meeting on Friday of the quartet of West Asia peace mediators — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — as well as talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on arms control and Iran.

Russian and US teams have been negotiating for nearly a year on a successor to the 1991 START I treaty cutting arsenals of nuclear weapons and Lavrov said on Tuesday that they could have a deal ready for signing by early April.

“We are making very good progress. I can’t predict to you exactly when the agreement will be completed but... we are getting closer,” Undersecretary of State William Burns told reporters as Hillary flew to Moscow.

Medvedev and Obama pledged last year to cut each nation’s deployed nuclear warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675.

A fresh treaty would give fresh impetus to the “reset” in relations between Moscow and Washington but talks have bogged down in recent months over Russian concerns about US plans for anti-missile systems in eastern Europe and disagreements over how to count and verify warheads.

Nuke programme

Washington also hopes to win Moscow’s backing for tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, which the West suspects is intended to produce atomic weapons.