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We present a fast and accurate framework for registration of multi-modal volumetric images based on decoupled estimation of registration parameters utilizing spatial information in the form of 'gradient intensity'. We introduce gradient intensity as a measure of spatial strength of an image in a given direction and show that it can be used to determine the rotational misalignment independent of translation between the images. The rotation parameters are obtained by maximizing the mutual information of 2D gradient intensity matrices obtained from 3D images, hence reducing the dimensionality of the problem and improving efficiency. The rotation parameters along with estimations of translation are then used to initialize an optimization step over a conventional pixel intensity-based method to achieve sub-voxel accuracy. Our optimization algorithm converges quickly and is less subject to the common problem of misregistration due to local extrema. Experiments show that our method significantly improves the robustness, performance and efficiency of registration compared to conventional pixel intensity-based methods.