MOSCOW, July 3 (RIA Novosti) - The Kremlin confirmed on Friday that the Russian and U.S. presidents would sign a key framework arms control agreement during President Barack Obama's visit next week.
"This will be a framework document setting out guidelines for further work on the draft treaty to replace the START 1 pact," presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko told reporters.
Prikhodko said Moscow hoped a new treaty regulating the number of long-range nuclear weapons would be signed early next year, but that its contents must not be sacrificed for the sake of a date. The current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed before the Soviet Union's breakup in 1991, and expires in December this year.
Prikhodko did not specify figures on reductions in nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles to be included in the document, reiterating that Russia was committed to "considerable, verifiable" cuts.
The Russian business daily Kommersant said on Friday that Washington has proposed cuts to a maximum of 1,500-1,600 operational warheads and 1,100 delivery vehicles for each side. Moscow initially agreed to the figures, but differences have arisen in discussions ahead of the visit, the paper said.
The paper said Russia's military warned against reducing warheads below 1,700, and Moscow linked the cuts to Washington's missile defense plans for Europe.
President Obama has shown less interest in his predecessor's plans to open a missile interceptor base in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic, which Moscow has fiercely opposed as a security threat.
Obama has not yet announced a final decision on whether to move ahead with the deployment. The George W. Bush administration had said the missile defense shield elements were to counter possible strikes from "rogue" states, and not aimed against Russia.
Prikhodko reiterated on Friday that Moscow wanted the new arms reduction document to contain a ban on the deployment of missiles outside the signatories' sovereign territories.
"In any case, our concerns regarding the third [missile shield] site in Europe should be addressed," he said. "Such plans will negatively affect strategic stability and predictability," he added.
Obama and Dmitry Medvedev pledged to sign a new strategic arms treaty at their first meeting in London in April, when they also vowed to "reset" bilateral ties, which had plunged to a new Cold War low under the previous U.S. administration.