Accords reached at negotiations between Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush are a "real breakthrough" in Russia-US relations, Russia's Audit Chamber chairman Sergei Stepashin said in an interview with journalists on Wednesday. He recalled that during their meeting the American and Russian presidents were able to agree on many things, including debt problems, economic relations, as well as Russia's entry into the World Trade Organisation. "Now Russia is fully entitled to speak of an entirely different configuration of relations in the framework of the European Union and NATO," the chairman said. In his opinion, the Russian state has not only economic, but also political grounds for that. Valery Goreglyad, deputy chairman of the budget committee of the Federation Council (upper house of parliament), in his turn described Washington accords on cuts in strategic offensive arms as "a gesture of good will" shown by both countries. St Petersburg governor Vladimir Yakovlev, chairman of the upper house economic committee, speaking of the talks already held between the Russian and US presidents, pointed to "a clear and marked drawing together of positions". "As regards cuts in the nuclear potential, this process has been under way for a long time anyway, especially since in relations between the two states there should always be trade-offs and Russia is prepared for them," Yakovlev said.
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