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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Transdnestr Talks Advance

CHISINAU, Moldova-- Moldova's President Mircea Snegur and separatist leader Igor Smirnov decided Wednesday to step up personal contacts to speed work on a special political status for the breakaway Transdnestr region.

Snegur and Smirnov, who met in the Moldovan capital Chisinau for the first time in eight months, decided to hold monthly meetings to discuss the political settlement of problems that caused a bloody war in the former Soviet republic in 1992.

"The working groups were instructed to present documents concerning cooperation in customs regulations, finance and the banking system," said the official press release distributed after the talks.

The Transdnestr region in eastern Moldova, where Slavs make up a considerable part of the population, broke away over fears that a nationalist drive for merger with ethnic kin in Romania might reduce non-Romanians to second-class citizens.

The new Moldovan government, which came to power in February, denounced the merger plans and offered the region and another secessionist region, Gagauzia, a special status to ensure autonomy and to allow them to leave Moldova if the merger happened in future. Gagauzia has accepted the offer.

The Transdnestr region wants a confederation which will allow it to keep its separate statehood.