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Moldovan Wine Ban to Be Lifted

President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia would soon lift a ban on imports of Moldovan wine, which had dealt a blow to the country's economy.

After a meeting at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow with Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, Putin emphasized a thaw in the chilly relations between the leaders.

"In general, our ties have been progressing pretty well, especially economic ties. Our mutual trade turnover has grown by 99 percent since 2005 to reach nearly $1 billion," he told reporters.

"The Russian government has sent appropriate instructions about the delivery of Moldovan wine to the Russian market," he said.

After Russia imposed the ban last year citing the poor quality of the wines, Moldova complained that Moscow was using economic sanctions as a political weapon following its adoption of a more independent, pro-European foreign policy.

Putin's ties with Voronin soured in 2003 when Moldova bowed to Western pressure and nationalists at home, refusing to sign a Russian-brokered deal to settle a conflict with rebels in its breakaway Transdnestr region.

At the time, Putin cancelled a scheduled visit to Moldova at the last minute, a decision seen by many in Moscow as a humiliation by the tiny nation.

Putin said Friday, "I believe we have much to discuss on other issues, including political ones, primarily settlement in Transdnestr."

Russia previously accounted for 60 percent of Moldova's wine exports, worth a quarter of the country's entire foreign trade, before it imposed the ban.

Georgia has also faced a yearlong Russian ban on wine exports after it took steps to leave Moscow's orbit, saying would seek NATO and European Union membership.

(The Moscow Times 25.vi.07)

 
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