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Report: U.S., Russia Arms Deal Unlikely Before February

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, in Copenhagen on December 18.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia and the United States are unlikely to clinch a deal to cut Cold War stocks of nuclear arms before February as two issues remain to be resolved, "Kommersant" newspaper reported today, citing a source.

The two countries missed a December 5 deadline to agree a successor to the 1991 START I pact. Their leaders also failed to sign a deal when they met in Copenhagen on December 18, although U.S. President Barack Obama said they were "quite close" to agreement. Talks are set to resume in January.

A deal is now unlikely before February, "Kommersant" reported, citing an unnamed participant in the December 18 talks.

"It is a fundamentally new document compared to START I. Its main difference is that it will contain absolute parity on all the issues. And that takes time," the source said.

The world's two largest nuclear powers have been trying since April to find a replacement for START I. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on December 18 that there were "certain technical details...which require further work."

"Kommersant" quoted its source as saying the outstanding issues were more serious and include the need to agree on the sharing of telemetric data.

"Thanks to the two leaders, we managed to push through three fundamental issues. Two remain and they are far from being technical details. They are serious things which demand political will," the source said, adding that there was every reason to expect a successful conclusion to the negotiations.

However, the source did not give details of the two remaining problems.

An unnamed source in the Russian delegation told "Kommersant" that the two sides will not set any more dates or deadlines for the agreement but it will be signed soon.

Russia returns to work after new year holidays on January 11.