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Clinton in Russia for nuke, Mideast talks

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Clinton: 'We're very committed'
  • Both sides trying to reach deal on reducing nuke warheads before summit
  • International nuke non-proliferation summit to take place in Washington next month
  • Clinton to represent United States Friday in Mideast Quartet meeting
  • Clinton expecting call from Netanyahu on whether trip by U.S. envoy worthwhile

Moscow, Russia (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Russia on Thursday to jump-start talks on two diplomatic fronts: a new nuclear treaty between the countries and the stalled Mideast peace process.

Clinton will spend Thursday in talks with senior Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Both sides have expressed optimism that they can reach a long-delayed agreement to reduce their nuclear warheads to about 1,500 each before an international summit on nuclear non-proliferation in Washington next month.

The two sides have been trying to negotiate a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expired in December.

On Friday, Clinton will represent the United States in a meeting with other members of the Mideast Quartet -- the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

The group has been working to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian government. But Israel's announcement last week of plans to build 1,600 housing units in disputed East Jerusalem drew a rebuke from the United States.

The Obama administration has asked Israel to rescind the decision, to show its commitment to the peace process, a U.S. official and an Israeli official told CNN on Monday.

Read analysis on where United States-Israel relations are heading.

Two days before Israel announced the construction, U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell said Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to indirect peace talks mediated by him. Mitchell also asked both sides not to do anything provocative that would jeopardize those talks.

Clinton said she was expecting a call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on whether it is worth sending Mitchell to the region now.