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    Moscow looks into Ukrainian plan for settlement in Transdniestria

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    MOSCOW, June 2 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow is closely studying the plan proposed by Ukraine for settling the Transdniestrian conflict, ambassador at large of the Russian Foreign Ministry Igor Savolsky said at the meeting on Friday with Moldovan journalists in Moscow.

    "We are studying the plan attentively and see what would be the reaction of the conflicting parties, Moldova and Transdniestria, and all those involved, including the United States and the European Union. Positions are taking shape and some proposals may be made," Savolsky said.

    "The parties will speak up later" on the content of the Ukrainian plan, he said.

    From the very beginning Russia welcomed the reinvigoration of Ukraine as the guarantor country. "It was a good incentive, which has again made the parties sit at the negotiating table," Savolsky said.

    Asked how much the positions of Russia and Ukraine coincide on Transdniestrian settlement, he said: "There's no 100-percent coincidence." And added: "But we have no differences in principle with Ukraine."

    Commenting on Russia's position on broadening the present five-party format (the conflicting parties plus Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) of the Transdniestrian talks, which might also include the United States, Romania and the EU, Savolsky said that the number of go-betweens can be however large. "We are not allergic to that," he said.

    "But, there are two conflicting parties. They have invited intermediaries and it's up to them to decide on the format," Savolsky said.

    As regards the Russian military presence in Transdniestria, he said: "We do not demand legalization of our military contingent. We would like it to go. But we cannot do that because the party (Transdniestria) in control of the territory does not agree to the withdrawal of property."

    Savolsky said that Tiraspol (capital of the self-proclaimed Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic) disagrees with the withdrawal of the Russian ammunition until a full-scale settlement of the conflict begins.

    In Istanbul in 1999 it was decided that what remains of the 14th army (from 1,000 to 1,500 personnel) will be pulled out from Transdniestria, Savolsky recalled.

    "The contingent is engaged in important work, protection of army depots. We will not pass to any party what is inside them. We can only withdraw it, provided there is contact with the local authorities," Savolsky said.

    "We are told that the withdrawal of property can promote the settlement in Transdniestria. In our opinion, it is the progress of settlement that will prompt the withdrawal (of Russian ammunition) and the allegations that Russia has 100-percent influence on the leadership of Transdniestria are groundless," the Russian diplomat said.

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