By Sam Youngman - 12/04/09 04:27 PM EST
The White House said Friday that even though it is unlikely that the
U.S. and Russia will be able to agree to a new nuclear nonproliferation
treaty before the current one expires Saturday, the two countries have
agreed to extend the old one.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke by phone Friday morning, and the two leaders agreed to release a joint statement outlining their agreement to abide by the current, expiring treaty while a new one is worked out.
Gibbs indicated in his office Friday morning that the two nations would continue to work together on a new treaty in hopes of agreeing to something before the expiration on Dec. 5.
Even as he acknowledged that was "unlikely," Gibbs did say they would continue to negotiate over "the next 24 hours."
Not long after that, however, the U.S. released its version of the joint agreement.
"Recognizing our mutual determination to support strategic stability between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, we express our commitment, as a matter of principle, to continue to work together in the spirit of the START Treaty following its expiration, as well as our firm intention to ensure that a new treaty on strategic arms enter into force at the earliest possible date," the statement read.
Gibbs disputed reports that Obama is hoping for a signing ceremony of a new treaty before he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, next week, going as far as to say that the White House had not even sent an advance team to prepare for a presidential visit.