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Moldova: Yeltsin Hails Memorandum On Dniestr Settlement

Moscow, 8 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin is hailing a memorandum on relations between Moldova and the breakaway region of Dniestr as "a major stride forward." But Yeltsin warns that not all problems have been solved.

The memorandum was signed earlier today by Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi and Dniestr leader Igor Smirnov. Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Niels Helveg Petersen, acting head of the OSCE, also signed it as guarantors.

The memorandum says the two sides agree to build their relations "within the framework of a single state" within Soviet-era borders. The status of the breakaway Dniestr region is left unclear and subject to further negotiations. The two sides pledged to resume negotiations to draw up a final document.

The memorandum also paves the way for the withdrawal of the some 6,500 Russian peacekeepers in the region. Interfax quotes Yeltsin as saying that Russia is ready to withdraw the troops "at any moment" but the go-ahead must be given by Moldovan and Dniestr leaders.