Moscow Offers to Solve Transdnestr Dispute

CHISINAU, Moldova -- First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said Friday that Russia wanted to help solve Moldova's conflict with its separatist Transdnestr region, part of a drive to prove that despite its war with Georgia it can still act as an honest broker among its neighbors.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin to discuss the conflict during a CIS summit in the Moldovan capital.

Shuvalov told reporters on the sidelines of the summit that Russia wanted to revive a Russian peace plan rejected by Moldova in 2003. "We really do believe that the peace plan that was proposed back then was effective and could have been implemented," Shuvalov said. "We will now try to reach new agreements, taking as our starting point the territorial integrity of Moldova."

In the early 1990s, Transdnestr, which has a majority Russian-speaking population, broke away from Moldova, which has ethnic and cultural ties to neighboring Romania. Russia sent troops to intervene in the conflict, and some have stayed in the region as a peacekeeping force, though Moldova accuses them of siding with the separatists.

The plan previously proposed by Moscow involved a federal state in which Transdnestr would have a large degree of autonomy and Russian forces would remain in the region to oversee the agreement.

In a separate effort to prove Russia's peacekeeping credentials after the war with Georgia, President Dmitry Medvedev convened a meeting of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Also Friday, Putin met Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. He said cooperation between Kiev and Moscow was needed now "more than ever" due to the global financial turmoil.

(Reuters, AP)