CHISINAU -- Moldovan Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca says he and Prime Minister Vlad Filat are hopeful that they can convince U.S. officials during their visit to Washington that their government is determined to turn Moldova into a "true democracy," RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Leanca and Filat are the first members of Moldova's pro-Western government to visit Washington since the four-party coalition gained power after the July 29 elections.
Leanca told RFE/RL on January 18, the eve of their U.S. trip, that they will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and sign an agreement on further U.S. assistance to Moldova worth some $262 million.
He said Moldova will also ask the administration of President Barack Obama to lift the Jackson-Vanik amendment, a trade act that denies most-favored nation status to certain countries with nonmarket economies. It still applies to Moldova nearly 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, imposing restrictions on bilateral trade.
Leanca said he does not think improved ties with the United States would upset Russia, which is Moldova's largest trading partner and its traditional ally in the East.
Leanca said under the Obama administration, U.S.-Russian ties have entered "a more dynamic phase" and Russia's neighbors need not fear they will be "caught in the middle."