MOSCOW (AP) Russia and the United States are near agreement on drastic cuts in long-range nuclear arsenals but remain at odds over a U.S. missile defense, Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the arms-reduction deal could be ready for the next summit between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, tentatively scheduled for Moscow next spring.

But the U.S.-Russian disagreement over missile defense is so deep that Russia is bracing for the possibility of a U.S. withdrawal from the landmark 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, Ivanov told a joint news conference with Powell at the Kremlin.

“The positions of the sides remain unchanged,” Ivanov said.

Despite the missile-defense impasse, both Ivanov and Powell were upbeat about prospects for wrapping up a deal to reduce nuclear warheads.

Powell said he was taking Bush a Russian recommendation on arms cuts that responds to Bush”s announcement last month that the United States would cut its nuclear arsenal over the next decade by two-thirds, from just under 6,000 warheads now to between 1,700 and 2,200.

Powell did not disclose specifics. But a senior State Department official, briefing reporters on Powell”s plane, said the Russian recommendation was in the same ball park as the Bush announcement.

Ivanov said Russia prefers to see the reductions presented in treaty form. Bush has opposed such a move in the past, suggesting that the reductions should be put on less formal grounds.

But Powell told reporters that both countries “recognize the need for a codification of the new levels we”re going to. It might be in the form of a treaty, or some other way of codifying it.”

“With respect to what that agreed lower level will be, we”re very close,” Powell said.

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