Moldova's acting president Mihai Ghimpu has asked NATO to support its call on the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Moldovan breakaway region of Transdnestr.
The Russian-speaking province of Transdnestr has maintained de facto independence from Moldova since a brief war in 1992, which erupted from a buildup of tensions following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Russia maintains a 1,500-troop contingent in Transdnestr, which officially guards stockpiles of Soviet-era weaponry due to be returned to Russia.
"The Russian troops [in the region] remain a source of tension and feed Transdnestrian separatism," Ghimpu said at a news briefing on Friday. "The withdrawal of the Russian troops could help resolve the conflict."
Ghimpu was made acting Moldovan leader in September 2009 when the country's liberal-democratic coalition was forced to find a compromise after failing to appoint another candidate. Ghimpu is known for his sweeping pro-Romanian policies.
Local experts believe that Ghimpu's announcement was made a week before the Russia-NATO Council's meeting in Lisbon to attract NATO's attention to the long-running dispute.
The talks on the future of Transdnestr in the "five-plus-two" format, involving Russia, Ukraine, OSCE, Moldova, Transdnestr, with the United States and the EU as observers, have been frozen since February 2006.
Tiraspol insists on independence, and even integration with Russia, while Chisinau says it is willing only to give Transdnestr autonomy within Moldova.
CHISINAU, November 12 (RIA Novosti)