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Moldova Says Russian Ties 'Strong,' But Russian Troops Should Go

CHISINAU -- A high-ranking Moldovan official says that Chisinau's ties with Moscow are "as strong as ever," but that Moldova would appreciate it if Russia would pull its troops from the Moldovan separatist region of Transdniester.

Deputy Prime Minister Valeriu Ostalep told RFE/RL's Moldovan Service that Russia wants to resolve the Transdniester conflict with Western participation.

He said, "[Moldova] and Russia expect the '5+2' negotiations [on Transdniester] to resume this year."

His comments come ahead of a visit to Chisinau by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The "5+2" negotiations on Transdniester have been led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and include the United States, the European Union, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and the Transdniester separatists.

After Russia's brief war with Georgia over South Ossetia in August, many in Moldova expected Moscow to force a diplomatic solution on Transdniester, without consulting the West.