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US, Russia close to agreement on adoptions: official

US officials said Tuesday a deal was close to being signed with Moscow on new rules for adoption, months after a US woman sparked outrage by putting her adopted son on a plane alone back to Russia.

Russia imposed a de-facto ban on US adoption after the episode in April, and both sides have been working on a legal framework governing the adoption of Russian orphans by prospective US parents.

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said officials from both countries will be in Washington on Wednesday “reviewing the final text so there can be a signing in the near future.”

Crowley added: “We expect the process will be concluded (Wednesday), but the formal agreement will not be signed.”

Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia threw their weight behind the process to provide legally binding rules for adoptions when they met in Moscow in June.

The two sides have met a total of four times, in both Washington and Moscow, “to negotiate this agreement that provides greater safeguards for children and families in the adoption process between the two countries,” Crowley said.

Russia demanded a bilateral accord to protect its children after Torry Hansen, a 32-year-old nurse from Tennessee, put her seven-year-old adopted son on a flight alone this year, along with a note saying she could no longer care for him.

Hansen, who had adopted Artyom Savelyev only seven months earlier, said the boy was “violent” and had threatened to burn down the family home.

More than 1,770 orphans were adopted by American families in 2008 from Russia, where the number of orphans is some five times higher than in the United States, according to official statistics.