Nuclear Weapons Pact Nears Approval

GENEVA -- Top Russian and U.S. arms negotiators began a two-day round of talks Thursday aimed at agreeing on a new reduction in the two countries' nuclear arsenals, officials said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Mamedov and U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton could wrap up the formal agreement in the two days of talks so it is ready for the U.S.-Russian summit meeting in May, officials said.

The talks in Geneva are to flesh out an agreement reached between Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin in December.

Bush has agreed to cut U.S. long-range nuclear warheads to between 1,700 to 2,200 from the current 6,000 allowed each country under START I. Putin has said Russia could go as low as 1,500 warheads.

Powell said last week that the agreement would be about three pages long and would be legally binding.