Secretary of State Hillary Clinton winged her way to Moscow on Thursday to go over the nitty-gritty details of a new arms control agreement with Russian leaders that is targeted to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) of 1991, but a successful outcome is by no means guaranteed in this round of negotiations. —KA
The New York Times:
In Moscow, Mrs. Clinton will also meet with leaders from the European Union and the United Nations, as well as Russia, to discuss the fallout from a sharp conflict between the United States and Israel over the Israeli government’s announcement last week of a housing plan for Jews in East Jerusalem.
Although an arms deal could theoretically be announced while Mrs. Clinton is in Moscow, the months of tortuous negotiations have made administration officials extremely leery of predicting the end of a process they had once claimed would be wrapped up by the end of last year.
In recent weeks, Mr. Obama has thrust himself into the negotiations, speaking twice by phone with Mr. Medvedev in the last three weeks. In the first call, Mr. Obama was surprised to hear the Russian president raise several fresh hurdles, including the revised American plan for a missile-defense system, which Mr. Obama believed had been settled by negotiators in Geneva.
“Every time you think you’re done, new issues pop up in Geneva, and what seemed like trivia become major political issues,” said another senior administration official, speaking on the condition on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Smiles and stripes: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov play nice before their talks in Moscow on Thursday.