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The first formal talks since 2006 on Moldova's two-decade conflict with its breakaway region of Transdniester have opened in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius.

Lithuania brokered the talks in its capacity as chair of the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The meeting involves the "5+2" grouping -- Moldova, Transdniester, Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE, plus the European Union and United States as observers.

"Previous attempts to negotiate ended in a deadlock, but now there are good signs we may finally start heading into something," said Giedrius Cekuolis, the OSCE's special representative for unresolved conflicts.

"It is going to be a very long process, but we have to lay foundations now so that these obstacles can be removed from the path later."

Philip Remler, a former U.S. diplomat who heads the OSCE's mission in Moldova, warned against expecting "miracles" from the two-day meeting.

Moscow-backed Transdniester declared independence from mostly Romanian-speaking Moldova in 1990.

In 1992 it engaged in an armed conflict with Moldova that cost hundreds of lives and was ended by the intervention of the Russian military stationed in the region.

compiled from agency reports
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