On a two-day visit to Moscow, Moldovan prime minister Andrei Sangheli and foreign minister Mihai Popov held talks with Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov, defense minister Igor Rodionov, and the Duma and Federation Council chairmen, Gennady Seleznev and Yegor Stroyev. Sangheli urged implementation of the 1994 Chernomyrdin-Sangheli agreement on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova, and for Russian ratification of the bilateral political treaty, signed by Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Mircea Snegur in 1990 and ratified only by Moldova. The Russian leaders made no promises on either count and omitted to mention the troop withdrawal in their public remarks on the talks. The sides also signed as yet unspecified economic agreements. Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov attended the talks alongside Chisinau’s delegation. (Flux, Basapress, Itar-Tass, October 8 and 9)
Moscow apparently has not digested last week’s unanimously adopted U.S. congressional resolution calling for withdrawal of the troops. Russian ratification of the bilateral political treaty has been withheld because the 1990 text unconditionally recognized Moldova’s territorial integrity. This visit was carefully watched in Moldova for possible signals that Moscow may favor Sangheli, who is running against Snegur in the current presidential election campaign. But such signals were not forthcoming, and Sangheli appeared to return home empty-handed. There was also no word on settling Transdniester’s arrears for Russian fuel deliveries. They amount to $260 million out of Moldova total debt of over $ 400 million, and explain Smirnov’s unusual participation in the talks.
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