Russia-US deal to cut missiles 'nearly ready'

MOSCOW (AP) - US and Russian arms control negotiators will complete the Start-2 treaty this week in Geneva, and it should be ready for signing next month, Russia's Foreign Minister said yesterday.

Andrei Kozyrev told the Interfax news agency that a January summit between President George Bush and President Boris Yeltsin was 'quite possible.' Mr Yeltsin caused a stir in Peking earlier this month when he announced that the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty would be signed at a January summit. At the time, US officials called his announcement premature.

Mr Kozyrev said yesterday that the pact was 'ready to a very high degree' and that US and Russian experts would begin putting the finishing touches to it in Switzerland today. The Russian delegation will be led by deputy the foreign ministers Georgy Mamedov and Grigory Berdennikov, he told Interfax.

Mr Bush and Mr Yeltsin signed a framework Start-2 treaty at their summit in Washington in June. It would require the Russians to remove 154 SS-18 multiple-warhead missiles permitted by the original Start treaty and reduce each side's warheads to a maximum of 3,500. Mr Bush is believed to be eager to sign the treaty before leaving office on 20 January.