Biden heads to Moldova after Russia trip

US vice president will meet Moldova`s pro-Western leaders in Chisinau.

Last Updated: Mar 11, 2011, 15:26 PM IST

Chisinau: US Vice President Joe Biden was expected on Friday in Moldova to signal Washington`s support for democratic and economic reforms in Europe`s poorest country as he wraps up his three-nation European tour.

Biden will spend several hours in the capital Chisinau where he will meet the country`s pro-Western leaders in a show of support for the Chisinau government`s aspirations for European integration and efforts to pull itself out of a protracted political and economic crisis.

Biden will also meet local residents and is expected to find time for some wine-tasting in an apparent effort to lend support to the country`s ambition to raise its profile as a wine-exporting nation.

"This visit is extremely important for Moldova," Prime Minister Vladimir Filat told reporters ahead of Biden`s arrival. "Thanks to Biden`s visit, Moldova will receive support regardless of who will be in power."

A Romanian-speaking country with strong cultural ties to Russia, Moldova was part of Romania between 1918 and World War II when it was annexed into the Soviet Union by Stalin.

Moldova`s openly pro-Western government, which has ruled the country since ending over eight years of Communist Party rule in 2009, has a complicated relationship with Moscow which is rankled by Chisinau`s drive for European integration.

Filat said he and Biden would discuss Moldova`s ongoing democratic and economic reforms, European integration efforts and talks on Transdniestr, a small separatist pro-Russian territory of about 500,000 people in eastern Moldova which is not internationally recognised.

Moldova remains mired in a political crisis after the communists were ousted from government in 2009 elections that followed bloody riots in Chisinau known as the "Twitter Revolution".

Elections last November failed to overcome a stalemate in parliament between pro-Western liberals and the pro-Moscow communists.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, acting President and Parliament Speaker Marian Lupu said Biden`s visit would help reinvigorate foreign investment and facilitate exports of Moldovan products.

Bureau Report