Leaders of Moldova, Transdnestr Hold Talks

CHISINAU, Moldova -- Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin met the leader of the breakaway Transdnestr republic in eastern Moldova on Friday, the first meeting between the two leaders in seven years.

The meeting took place in the town of Tighina, also known as Bender, in an area controlled by the pro-Russian separatists, said Mark Tkaciuc, Voronin's political adviser.

The two leaders -- Voronin and Igor Smirnov, president of Transdnestr -- said they wanted to build more roads, improve levels of trust between the two sides, increase security and undertake joint social and cultural affairs, Voronin's press office said.

The region broke away in 1990 over fears that Moldova would reunite with Romania.

Voronin is optimistic about resuming negotiations for a settlement in which Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are mediators, and the United States and the European Union are observers, Tkaciuc said.

"We realize that we need to be able to agree on the delicate and complicated matter of the status of the region ... but also on the pragmatic matters that can be resolved in a short period of time," Tkaciuc said.