Signing of Start-2 treaty in sight

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The Independent Online
GENEVA (Reuter) - The United States and Russia will seek today to finalise a disarmament pact that could set the seal of history on President George Bush's foreign policy record. The US Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Russia's Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev, will hold a day of negotiations towards a Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (Start-2) treaty dramatically cutting Cold War nuclear arsenals.

If they succeed, both sides would eliminate all land-based multiple warhead missiles - seen as the most dangerous and destabilising of nuclear weapons. Stockpiles of atomic warheads would be slashed by up to two- thirds.

A deal in Geneva this week would also pave the way for Mr Bush to hold a triumphant end-of- term summit with Russia's President Boris Yeltsin before he leaves the White House on 20 January. But US officials, annoyed by a declaration by Mr Yeltsin 10 days ago that a Start-2 deal had already been struck, say they will not be pressured into a bad deal just to give their defeated President a good send-off.

If the two sides do not reach agreement today but one still looks within reach, talks are likely to continue tomorrow.

Leading article, page 12

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