Russia, US to conclude adoption agreement soon: Official

Russia, US to conclude adoption agreement soon: Official Moscow: A Russia-US agreement on child adoption is expected to be finalised within two weeks so that it could become operational by the end of this year, a senior official said today, as delegates of the two countries launched a fourth round of talks here on the issue.

"We hope we will manage to iron out the remaining unresolved issues during the three-day long negotiations to finalise the text of this agreement within the next two weeks for approval by the concerned US and Russian federal agencies," Director of the Social Protection of Children in the Russian Education Ministry, Alina Levitskaya, was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

Levitskaya said the agreement would come into effect by the beginning of December.

Russia is one of the largest sources of foreign adoptions for US families, accounting for about 10 per cent of such adoptions, but the issue has become controversial in recent years following several incidents involving mistreatment of Russian children in the United States.

In early April, a 7-year-old boy was put on a Moscow-bound plane alone with a note from his US adoptive mother, who claimed he was "psychopathic."

At least 15 children have died at the hands of their adoptive parents in the US since the Soviet collapse.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had warned that Russia could freeze child adoptions by US citizens until the countries sign a formal agreement regulating them.

Russian Child Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov also insists on the signing of the bilateral adoption agreement and called for reducing the number of foreign adoption agencies working in Russia.