U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will visit Moscow from December 9 to 10, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told journalists on Saturday in New York. He said Powell will arrive in Moscow on December 9 and on the next day, "if there are no changes," the heads of the two countries' foreign policy departments will hold negotiations. Ivanov said that at the conclusion of the Russian-U.S. summit in the United States he and Powell agreed on "his immediate visit to Russia to follow up the discussion of a strategic plan with negotiations on concrete issues." These include strategic stability and strategic offensive armaments, Ivanov explained. Besides, the parties plan to continue consultations on ABM defence, regional problems and many other aspects of bilateral relations with a view to "translating all political plans, worked out by the presidents, into concrete deeds." Answering a RIA Novosti question, Ivanov said that the main goal of the Secretary of State's visit is to identify issues on which Russia and the United States should step up negotiations. "There are many issues where interaction must proceed from general consultations to concrete, practical moves," he said. According to Ivanov, the two countries "are interacting well in the Middle East." "I think we will interact in the same way also in the Afghan settlement - this was the president's directive," he said. The foreign minister said in this connection that a bilateral working group has been set up to promote the Afghan settlement. At the same time, he added, Moscow is ready to find "some additional forms." Besides, it is important to determine how Russia and the U.S.A. will work on issues of strategic offensive armaments, especially now that the two parties have established levels of reductions in these armaments, Ivanov emphasised. The countries now need to determine the way corresponding negotiating mechanisms should be built. Moscow wants these reductions to be carried out on a treaty basis, the Russian foreign minister pointed out.
As November 4 approaches (on this day, Russia and Belarus are to sign union programs), disputes between supporters and opponents of the integration become increasingly heated