The statement from ministry spokesmanIgor Lyakin-Frolov followed weeks of uncertainty and sent a strongsignal that the long-running talks were nearing an end. "We hope it will take just a few weeks for our negotiators to reach agreement," Lyakin-Frolov said in a telephone interview.
Russiaand the US have been negotiating a successor to the 1991 StrategicArms Reduction Treaty, or START I, that expired on December 5. They hadhoped to reach a deal before the end of the year, but differencespersisted and officials had been evasive about a timeline.
Lyakin-Frolovsaid the consultations held during last week's visit to Moscow by thechairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, and retiredGen. Jim Jones, President Barack Obama's national security adviser,were successful.