Kiev is seeking to be the venue for the signing of a new nuclear arms reduction treaty between Russia and the United States, a respected Russian business daily reported on Tuesday.
According to Kommersant, new Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych made the suggestion to his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, during his visit to Moscow on March 5.
The deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Anna German, told Kommersant on Monday that Moscow showed interest in Ukraine's initiative. This issue will also be discussed on Tuesday in Moscow between the countries' foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Kostyantyn Hryshchenko.
The talks will be held ahead of the upcoming visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Moscow, during which she and Lavrov are expected to coordinate the final details of the replacement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1), the paper said.
German said the bid to host the signing ceremony was part of Yanukovych's efforts to position his country as a link between Russia and the West.
"I believe this is a very interesting idea," Kommersant quoted German as saying. "The Russian side responded with interest to it. If the Americans are not against it, Ukraine will finally become the bridge between the East and the West that our leader always speaks about."
Russia and the United States have been negotiating the arms reduction pact since the two countries' presidents met in April last year, but finalizing a document has dragged on, with U.S. plans for missile defense in Europe a particular sticking point.
Moscow wants to include a link between missile defenses and cuts in offensive weapons, but the U.S. Senate is unlikely to ratify any document formally linking the two issues.
START 1, the cornerstone of post-Cold War arms control, expired on December 5.
MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti)