CHISINAU -- The Moldovan government has welcomed an agreement reached in Moscow today on the resumption, after five years, of official talks on resolving the conflict over the disputed Transdniester region, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Eugen Carpov, who headed Moldova's delegation to the informal meeting in Moscow under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told RFE/RL that the agreement constituted a "substantial step forward."
He said he expected the first official talks to be held before the end of this year.
Giedrius Cekuolis, the special representative of the OSCE chairman in office for protracted conflicts, who chaired the Moscow meeting, was quoted on the OSCE website
as saying he had offered to chair the first round of the new talks in the so-called 5+2 format, which are scheduled to be held in Lithuania at an unspecified date.
The 5+2 format comprises the conflict sides -- Moldova and its breakaway Transdniester region -- along with Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE, plus the European Union and the United States.
Official talks were broken off in 2006 when relations between Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin and Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov soured. But informal contacts have continued under the OSCE aegis.
The Transdniester region, where the majority of people are Russian-speaking, declared its independence from Moldova in 1990 and fought a brief war against Moldovan forces in 1992. It has been de facto independent since then.