MOSCOW – Secretary of State Colin Powell achieved little on his one day trip to Russia Monday, failing to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to put his faith in a U.S. national missile defense system.
Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said they were close to negotiating a deal on the types of missiles the Russians will eliminate as part of a nuclear stockpile reduction announced last month by the president.
"We're very close. It's a matter of reporting it back to President Bush," Powell said.
Bush said last month that the United States would cut two-thirds of its stockpile to reduce levels to about 1,750-2,250 missiles. At the time, Putin made no such commitment, but Monday Powell and Ivanov said an agreement is on the table.
Ivanov said the number would likely not be announced until Bush's visit to Russia next year.
The two sides also remained at odds about whether the warhead reductions should be a treaty, as Russia wants, or a less formal document, as Bush wants.
On missile defense, the two sides were also unable to reach agreement.
"The position of the sides remain unchanged," Ivanov told the news conference.
The United States is trying to build a missile shield to protect the nation from incoming intercontinental missiles. To do so, Russia must agree to modify the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which prohibits development of such defenses.
Otherwise, the United States can announce it is withdrawing from the treaty. Ivanov said Russia recognizes that might happen.
"We're not excluding the possibility of the United States withdrawing from the ABM treaty," he said. He hinted that if the U.S. withdrew, Russia might do the same, saying that Russia's first priority is "promoting our own national security."
Ivanov reiterated the Russian position that "this treaty is the key ... to strategic stability in the world."
The Bush administration had hoped the treaty could be modified in time to allow it to begin constructing silos and a testing command center in Alaska next spring. Congress has approved billions of dollars for missile defense testing.
Powell met with both Putin and Ivanov, then joined Ivanov in answering reporters' questions before departing for Berlin.
Powell and Ivanov said they also discussed violence in the Middle East; the status of the war on terrorism and the rebuilding of Afghanistan; and the continuing conflict in Chechnya.
Powell was on the seventh day of an eight-day visit to nations in Europe and central Asia. He will visit Paris and London Tuesday before heading home.
Shortly after arriving in Moscow late Sunday, Powell placed flowers on a memorial at Pushkin Square on the site of an August 2000 terrorist bombing that killed 13 people.
Speaking with reporters as he flew from Central Asia, Powell condemned the latest suicide bombing in Israel and raised fresh questions about the ability of Yasser Arafat to control Palestinian terrorist groups.
He said Arafat "has available to him tens of thousands of security personnel with weapons," and should be able to do a better job at cracking down on extremists.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.