Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and US Secretary of State Colin Powell met in New York on Sunday to discuss documents that are being drafted for the signing during President Vladimir Putin's visit to the United States. Ivanov told reporters that most of the documents have been prepared ready for signing, RIA Novosti reports. Among other things, he announced that "a statement is all but approved on a new relationship between Russia and the US". Also, he said joint statements have been negotiated on US-Russian relations in the economic sphere, on Afghanistan, and on the Middle East. He said some points remain to be clarified in a planned document on illicit drug trade. The minister went on to say that work on issues relating to the START-II and the ABM treaties was continuing both at an expert and political levels. "The consultations are proceeding rigorously," he said, dismissing any comment on the progress as premature. But a highly placed source in the Russian delegation, when approached by RIA Novosti, did not rule out that "the work on the strategic stability issues will last into the Russian head of state's visit to the US." Ivanov said that during today's meeting with Powell, "clocks were matched and readiness for the visit was assessed on economic issues and bilateral relations". US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was attending the meeting.
The Americans came to realise that they would have to either leave the region or weaken their presence there. It is Russia that is filling the vacuum now