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Russia, U.S. 'close' on weapons cuts

Putin, right
Putin and Powell at a joint press conference in the Kremlin  

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell have brought their two nations nearer to an agreement on reducing the Russian arsenal of offensive arms, a senior State Department official said.

"We've got an idea, we're close," said the official, traveling with Powell, after the Secretary of State met the Russian leader on Monday.

The official said a final agreement could be ready by the time U.S. President George W. Bush meets Putin in Moscow next year.

"Though the Russians are still not giving a firm figure, they are close," the official said.

Powell traveled to Berlin after meeting with Putin.

Powell in Berlin after Moscow talks 

U.S. plans to test a missile defense system would violate the ABM treaty signed between the two countries, and Washington wants to either amend the treaty or end it.

Russia insists the ABM treaty is a cornerstone agreement, but it has opened the door to the possibility of compromise.

The two presidents agreed last month to reduce their arsenals of offensive weapons by about two-thirds.

U.S. armament cut

Bush said he would cut U.S. armaments from the current 6,000 to between 1,700 and 2,200.

At the time, Putin said the Russians, too, would reduce their offensive weapons by a similar ratio, though he did not cite a figure.

The senior official said Monday the Russians are still not ready to announce a firm figure, but said the two sides are close after their two hours of talks, which took place at the Kremlin.

"They had a clear vision on inspection, a clear vision on transparency and a clear vision on the codification of this," the official said.

The U.S. carried out a third test of a missile defense system prototype last week
The U.S. carried out a third test of a missile defense system prototype last week  

The Russians have pressed hard for inspections, he added.

Monday's meeting was the first between Powell and Putin and marked Powell's first visit to Russia since the Bush administration took office.

Earlier Monday, Powell met for two hours with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

The aim of their talks, Powell said, was to develop a "new framework" in strategic relations.

The two men also discussed the anti-terror coalition, the Middle East, the Balkans and Persian Gulf, as well as what the United States alleges are leaks of nuclear technology from Russia to Iran.

Also on the agenda was trade. Russian members of parliament want the United States to revoke the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which discriminates against Russian goods. They say it is outdated; Powell said the issue will soon be resolved.

-- CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty and CNN State Department Correspondent Andrea Koppel contributed to this story.


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