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Next meeting on Transdnestr to be held in January - Russian diplomat

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MOSCOW, December 20 (RIA Novosti) - The next meeting on the problem of Transdnestr, a self-proclaimed republic in Moldova, with the participation of the European Union and the United States will be held in late January, a Russian diplomat said Tuesday.

Valery Nesterushkin, the Russian Foreign Ministry's ambassador-at-large, said the last week's meeting that involved Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the U.S. and EU had not been a breakthrough. He said "a modest dialogue after stalled talks was an achievement".

He said that six out of ten paragraphs in the final document at the meeting had been adjusted, however the parties in the long run decided not to make the document public and leave all the issues for January's meeting.

The diplomat specified that the meeting would consist of two stages, first in Tiraspol (the capital of Transdnestr) and then in Chisinau, and involve the same delegations.

Nesterushkin said besides other issues, the delegates would discuss parameters of the work of an OSCE monitoring mission in Transdnestr.

"Sending the OSCE mission to the region will only be possible with the authorities' consent, which depends on the mission's objectives," he said, suggesting that the relevant draft document be adjusted before it was submitted to the session of the organization's Permanent Council in Vienna.

Nesterushkin said work on the protocol on the monitoring of Transdnestr defense enterprises would continue, stressing related political difficulties occurring when some participants and experts deliberately exaggerated the mission's objectives.

"Some participants suffer from the so-called 'Iraq syndrome' when they want to verify everything, causing awkward and sometimes absurd things to happen," he said.

The diplomat added that the EU operation to monitor Transdnestr border, launched December 1, was also a source of concerns with some parties.

"The operation would not make anyone nervous if it aimed to thwart smuggling, drug-trafficking or other threats," he said. "However, the Transdnestr party is concerned that the mission may be used to cut off any flows of goods to and from Transdnestr."

The Transdnestr armed conflict broke out in March 1992 when Moldova declared independence. Following that, the Transdnestr region, which has a predominantly ethnic Russian population, proclaimed itself the Transdnestr Moldovan Republic. According to official information, the unrecognized republic lost more than 800 people during the conflict. The Russian military intervened at the Moldovan president's request and separated the two sides. In July 1992, the Russian and Moldovan presidents signed a ceasefire agreement in the presence of the Transdnestr leader.

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