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Mediators urge Moldova, Transdnestr to restart direct talks

MOSCOW, November 17 (RIA Novosti) - International mediators have urged Moldova and its breakaway region of Transdnestr to restart direct talks, which were suspended in March over customs restrictions, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Mediators in the dispute, which include the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and the United States, met in Brussels Thursday in a bid to revive the peace process.

"Representatives of the mediators and observers expressed a shared opinion that specific steps need to be taken to revive direct contacts between Chisinau and Tiraspol [capitals of Moldova and Transdnestr], which would help find practical solutions to the unresolved problems hindering their relations," the ministry said.

They reaffirmed their resolve "to provide the parties to the conflict every assistance, encouraging them to search for a sustainable model of political resolution."

Transdnestr cut short talks after Ukraine demanded that Transdnestrian exports pass customs clearance in Moldova. The unrecognized republic called the move an economic blockade, and a conspiracy between Moldova and Ukraine, which claimed the move was designed to counter smuggling.

Transdnestr, which has a largely Russian-speaking population, broke away from Moldova after a bloody war in the 1990s, and recently asked Russia for recognition and eventual annexation.

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