With less than six months to go for the expiry of a 1991 treaty, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev publicly signed a “joint understanding” in Moscow to negotiate a new arms control accord that would result in further reduction in strategic weapons and delivery vehicles in the two countries.
The new agreement will cut back warheads from 2200 to a range of 1500 to 1675 and launch vehicles from 1600 to a range of 500 to 1100.
The accord will replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START – I) of 1991, which expires on the 5th of December this year.
Speaking on the occasion President Obama said the two countries were “committed to leaving behind the suspicion and the rivalry of the past”.
Describing the three hour discussion as “very frank and very sincere” President Medvedev added that the meeting was what the two nations had been waiting for.
The White House, in a statement, said the new treaty would “include effective verification measures” and added that the agreement will enhance the security of both the US and Russia, apart from providing predictability and stability in strategic offensive forces.”
Separately, the two leaders also inked a joint statement reaffirming commitment to combat terrorists and drug traffickers in Afghanistan, the agreement was one of the eight accords that came out of extended meetings on the opening day of the Moscow summit.
The White House said the US and Russian leaders also vowed to press forward jointly with bettering the Afghan economy, social structures and living standards.
Russia also agreed to allow the US military to fly troops and weapons across its territory to Afghanistan, allowing it to avoid using supply routes through Pakistan that are attacked by militants.
While defeating Taliban and al-Qaeda backed militants in Afghanistan is a top foreign policy priority for the Obama administration, the Russian side had growing worries over the flow of opium and heroin and expansion of Islamic extremism in the former Soviet republics that border Afghanistan.