Admiral Mike Mullen To Geneva for START Talks

By Lindsey Ellerson

Nov 24, 2009 5:52pm

ABC News' Luis Martinez reports: With the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START Treaty, between the US and Russia scheduled to expire on December 5, the diplomatic effort between the two countries to reach a new nuclear disarmament treaty by the end of the year continues.  Today came word that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen traveled to Geneva, Switzerland Monday night for an unannounced meeting with his Russian counterpart, General N.E. Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, to discuss the START Treaty follow-on agreement.  A statement from Mullen’s spokesperson, Capt. John Kirby, said the meeting with Makarov was held “to further ongoing negotiations on the START follow-on agreement.” The meeting was made at the request of both President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who had met last week in Singapore at the sidelines of the  APEC meeting in Singapore.  At that time both leaders acknowledged that US-Russian negotiators would almost certainly not make the December 5 deadline for a new nuclear disarmament treaty and set a goal of reaching agreement on a new deal by the end of this year.  Pending ratification of any new agreement by both country’s legislatures, both countries support maintaining the inspection protocols set in place by the 1991 treaty. According to Kirby’s statement, “a broad range of military and technical issues related to forming the agreement” was discussed during the day-long meeting. The talks between the top military leaders were characterized as “candid and productive.”  Overall, the negotiations  to come up with a new agreement are said to be “proceeding in a positive direction. ” To that end the statement says  both leaders are planning to meet on the issue before the end of the year. - Luis Martinez

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