CHISINAU -- Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat says he may meet with Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov on the sidelines of an international ice hockey tournament in the breakaway region next month, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Filat told RFE/RL on April 18 he wants to attend the May 15 tournament, and if he manages to travel to Tiraspol he will probably meet there with Smirnov to discuss "practical" issues, such as resuming rail freight shipments and updating telephone connections between Moldova proper and Transdniester.
Filat and Smirnov have met twice at international soccer matches in Tiraspol since Filat became prime minister in 2009.
Unlike Moldova, Transdniester has state-of-the-art sports facilities, and many events involving Moldova's national teams are held there.
Smirnov has denied permission to Moldovan leaders to attend such matches in the past, but he is said to have a good personal relationship with Filat.
Earlier this month Smirnov invited Filat to pay an official visit to Transdniester. Filat refused, saying he does not need an official invitation to visit his own country.
Russian-speaking Transdniester broke away from Moldova in 1991, fearing that the post-Soviet, pro-Romanian leaders in Chisinau might seek reunification with Romania. Transdniester is not recognized internationally as an independent state, even by Russia, its main ally and donor.
International negotiations to solve Moldova's "frozen" conflict were suspended in 2006. Despite renewed Western interest in finding a solution, it is unclear when there will be a resumption of the so-called "5+2" negotiations, which involve the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and Transdniester, plus the United States and European Union as observers.