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Russian, U.S. officials discuss new arms control deal

MOSCOW, November 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle have discussed a new arms control agreement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

It said they had discussed "the progress of strategic arms control negotiations," regional issues, and "aspects of bilateral relations."

The ministry's press and information department said the discussion took place on Tuesday.

The Kremlin said last Saturday that Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama discussed the progress towards a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) and the presidents expressed hope a new pact would be ready by early December.

START I, the basis for Russian-U.S. strategic nuclear disarmament, expires on December 5.

The latest round of talks took place in Geneva last week. The presidents will meet on the sidelines of this year's gathering of APEC leaders, hosted by Singapore on November 14-15.

The outline of the new pact was agreed during the presidents' bilateral summit in Moscow in July and includes cutting their countries' nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000.

START I commits the parties to reduce their nuclear warheads to 6,000 and their delivery vehicles to 1,600 each. In 2002, a follow-up strategic arms reduction agreement was concluded in Moscow. The document, known as the Moscow Treaty, envisioned cuts to 1,700-2,200 warheads by December 2012.

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