Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left a meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov Thursday saying 'don't count your chickens' about a nuclear reduction treaty with Russia.
That final 5 percent sure seems to be causing a lot more trouble than anyone expected.
Last month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told journalists that negotiations to frame the first major post-cold war Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), begun between the US and Russia amid great optimism a year ago and slated to be finished by the end of 2009, were "95 percent complete."
But on Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emerged from a long afternoon of talks with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to say "don't count your chickens before they hatch," when asked when the treaty, intended to radically slash US and Russian offensive nuclear arsenals, would be ready for signing.
She added that negotiators have made "substantial progress" and said she hoped the document will be finalized soon.
"The work may not be going as fast as expected, but there is a strong commitment on the part of both presidents to get it done" before the conference opens, says Mikhail Margelov, chair of the foreign affairs commission of the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament. "We're already preparing to move toward ratifying the treaty in parliament, after the presidents have signed it," he says.