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Russian Duma Ratifies Nuclear Arms Treaty - 2003-05-14

Russia's lower house of parliament has ratified a key nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States after a nearly two-month delay because of Russian opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq

Russia's foreign and defense ministers looked on as deputies in the Russian Duma approved the treaty by a vote of 294-134.

The treaty, already ratified by Congress, requires the United States and Russia to cut their strategic nuclear arsenals by two-thirds.

President Vladimir Putin had urged the Duma to ratify the treaty, calling it extremely important.

Its passage clears the way for President Putin and President Bush to exchange ratification documents during their summit later this month in St. Petersburg . Both presidents have said they do not want to see differences over Iraq sidetrack the U.S.-Russian relationship.

Secretary of State Powell is in Russia to pave the way for the summit between the two leaders.