Powell sure arms deal to be signed at Russia summit

MOSCOW, Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed confidence on Sunday that an accord on deep cuts in strategic weapons arsenals would be signed at a Russia-U.S. summit this month, Interfax news agency reported.

In a Russian translation of comments to be broadcast later in the day, Powell said Moscow and Washington had “made progress” in eliminating differences over the deal ahead of the May 23-26 summit in Moscow and St Petersburg.

“I am sure that when President Bush comes to Moscow the treaty will be signed,” Interfax quoted Powell as saying.

U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton arrived in Moscow for the final stage of talks to clinch an accord, which aims to reduce strategic arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,220 for each side from current levels of 6,000 to 7,000.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, in remarks quoted by Interfax, said the two sides had yet to agree on whether the document would be called an agreement or a treaty — the latter would require ratification by both countries’ parliaments. Other differences focus on Russian objections to U.S. proposals to store, rather than destroy, warheads removed from weapons.