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Visiting U.S. Diplomat Pledges Support For Moldova

(RFE/RL) -- A high-ranking U.S. diplomat visiting Chisinau said the White House supports Moldova's democratic process and will stand by it as it makes its foreign policy choices, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russell told RFE/RL that the United States fully respects Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity and that Washington will help Moldova strengthen its democratic institutions.

Asked if Russia could hamper Moldova's integration into Western structures, Russell said that "Russia is not the Soviet Union," and reiterated the Obama's administration's belief that the era of "spheres of influence" has passed.

Moldova has been pressing the European Union for closer ties after a pro-Western alliance of four Moldovan parties won elections in July and ousted a pro-Russian, communist regime headed by former President Vladimir Voronin.

The ruling Moldovan coalition is split on the subject of NATO and has said it would not make joining the alliance a priority.

Moldova's constitution asserts the country's neutrality, and opinion polls show that most of its citizens oppose NATO membership.