GENEVA (AFP) - Member states of the Conference on Disarmament agreed for the first time since 1996 on a work plan, a UN spokeswoman said Friday, breaking a long deadlock in nuclear arms talks. The 65 nations in the permanent disarmament negotiating forum, which includes all nuclear weapons states, agreed on a work plan for 2009, United Nations spokeswoman Elena Ponomareva told journalists. Ponomareva said the conference would release a statement shortly. The apparent breakthrough came after a growing number of countries signalled they were ready to rally around a compromise proposal drawn up by a group of non-nuclear states earlier this month, and a thaw in US-Russia relations. Proposals for talks on a treaty to ban the production of fissile nuclear bomb making material championed mainly by Western countries have been on the table of the conference in various forms for more than decade. But the member states who must take decisions unanimously had repeatedly failed to agree on an agenda, amid other contentious demands. Russia and China have also been demanding talks on a treaty preventing an arms race in outer space, which the United States had rejected, especially under the Bush administration. Other states, including younger nuclear weapon powers Pakistan and India, were demanding talks on full nuclear disarmament. Those issues were also dealt with in the compromise proposal, which advocated parallel working groups on each topic. Among the nuclear states, Indian ambassador Hamid Ali Rao said Thursday that India supported negotiations on a Fissile Missile Cut-off Treaty and would not stand in the way of the adoption of the compromise work plan. The United States on Tuesday signalled that it was ready to put aside its qualms and resume talks on the basis of the broad proposal, despite some doubts about the wording. In March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov marked the recent thaw in relations between Moscow and Washington by underlining that Russia was prepared to start negotiations on a fissile material ban. Whilst not abandoning other Russian demands, Lavrov told the conference in Geneva that a fissile material ban would mark an important milestone in the processes of nuclear disarmament and strengthening the nuclear non- proliferation regime.