WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev talked Saturday about ongoing negotiations for a successor to an expired nuclear weapons treaty. The Kremlin said the two sides are making "substantial progress."
An Obama administration official confirmed the two presidents talked by telephone about the negotiations, but had no further details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the administration had not announced the discussion publicly.
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START, expired Dec. 5. Both governments have spent the past several months negotiating a new pact that would further reduce the size of the nuclear arsenals on both sides.
The Kremlin statement said the two presidents "continued a detailed exchange of opinions about the results achieved and the prospects of completing work on a document that is of vital importance for strategic stability in the world."
Medvedev and Obama "noted with satisfaction that the work of the delegations of both countries in Geneva has an intense and purposeful character that makes it possible to speak of substantial progress in the negotiation process," the statement continued.
The leaders "agreed to tell the negotiators to continue their energetic work without lowering the level and pace of cooperation with the goal of reaching final agreement on all issues," the statement said.
The expired START treaty, signed by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush, required each country to cut its nuclear warheads by at least one-fourth, to about 6,000, and to implement procedures for verifying that each side was sticking to the agreement.
Obama and Medvedev agreed at a Moscow summit in July to cut the number of nuclear warheads each possesses to between 1,500 and 1,675 within seven years as part of a broad new treaty.