Sun, 15 Sep 2019

Maia Sandu, Moldova's new pro-Western prime minister, is scheduled to travel to Washington next week, looking to convince U.S. officials that her country's reform process is on track and is worthy of renewed financial aid.

Sandu told RFE/RL in an interview on August 23 that a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be the key session of her trip, scheduled for August 29 to September 4.

Sandu said she will also visit the Pentagon and the CIA and will press the need for further U.S. financial assistance for Moldova, Europe's poorest country.

During a visit to Brussels on July 24, Sandu, a former World Bank economist and education minister, signed three financial assistance agreements worth $45 million with Johannes Hahn, the EU's enlargement commissioner.

Washington has been Moldova's biggest single donor since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

But over recent years, relations have cooled as Moldova failed to bring to justice those responsible for the disappearance of more than $1 billion from the country's state-owned banks in 2014.

A report last year by U.S.-based corporate investigative firm Kroll detailed how Moldovan banks distributed massive loans without adequate oversight.

The distributions led to the collapse of three of the nation's lenders in 2014 and the disappearance of the equivalent today to nearly one-tenth of the Balkan nation's economy.

It also cast a black eye on a country seeking further integration with Western Europe.

The United States, like the European Union, also chided Chisinau for canceling the 2018 mayoral race in the capital, which was won by an opposition leader.

After it came to power in June, Moldova's new government, based on an alliance of pro-Western and pro-Russian forces, has promised to speed up reforms and uproot corruption in the country,

Separately, Moldova's government announced that U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton will visit Chisinau on August 29.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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