MOSCOW, March 22 - RAPSI. Moscow is prepared to sign an intercountry adoption agreement with Spain, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a Government Hour meeting in the State Duma on Friday.

He noted that similar agreements with the UK and Israel are also being considered in addition to the agreements that Russia has signed with Italy and France.

"Talks continue with other countries toward signing similar agreements," he said. "With Spain, we have advanced the furthest. We have had several rounds of talks with Israel and Ireland. We are also working on the issue with Cyprus, Slovenia, New Zealand, Malta, and the UK."

These countries are the most active in adopting Russian children.

New agreements will be signed while taking into account Russia's experience with such agreements with Italy and France, he said.

An adoption agreement with Italy is already effective, while the agreement with France is pending ratification by the country's parliament.

Moscow's ban on the adoption of Russian children by US nationals came into force on January 1, shortly after Washington approved a law introducing sanctions against Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses. However, the two countries will continue observing their prior agreement until January 1, 2014.

Russia said the ban is necessary to protect its children, citing cases of abuse and neglect by US parents that have resulted in the deaths of 20 Russian adoptees since the early 1990s.

A recent survey showed that the majority of Russians support the ban. However, critics say the ban will strand hundreds of children, especially those with special needs, in the Soviet-era orphanage system.

The ban has triggered an emotional debate, with marches in Moscow both for and against the initiative.