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START: Intensive Negotiations Underway in Geneva – Excerpt from Daily Briefing
October 20, 2009

Excerpt from State Department Daily Press Briefing

Briefer: Ian Kelly

QUESTION: Can we switch to Geneva? There’s another set of talks there – U.S.-Russia on START. Do you have a readout on that?

MR. KELLY: I think what we said before is that this is – we have very intensive negotiations going on. We have a very firm deadline that’s coming up very quickly, a little more than – well, it’s December 5th, so it’s – we’re talking about a month and a half now. So we have very intensive negotiations going on. We do not want to negotiate in public. We are taking the tasking from our two presidents very seriously, the Russian side and the American side.

Our lead negotiator, Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller, is in Geneva now with her team. They began another round of talks. I think that’s the sixth round of talks. And the Russian side is headed by Mr. Antonov. And as I say, both sides are negotiating intensively and seriously.

QUESTION: Too early to speak of progress?

MR. KELLY: Too early to speak of – no, I think there is some progress. I think that both sides exchanged drafts of an agreement. So there is – I mean, there’s a lot of overlap in the agreement, so there’s progress in that respect, but we’re not – we don’t want to get into details right now, publicly anyway.

QUESTION: Thank you.