Moldovan president invites Biden to visit amid Russia tensions

FILE PHOTO: Moldova's President Sandu is seen during a visit to the Ukrainian town of Bucha

By Alexander Tanas

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova's leader said on Wednesday she had invited U.S. President Joe Biden to visit the tiny former Soviet republic, whose relationship with Russia is becoming increasingly tense.

President Maia Sandu wrote on Facebook that she had extended the invitation during a meeting in Warsaw on Tuesday, at which the White House said Biden had affirmed support for Moldova's sovereignty. She did not say how Biden had responded.

"I used the opportunity of this meeting to convey to the President of the United States that, in the difficult situation we are in, with a war at the border, we need even more U.S. support to strengthen our economic resilience," Sandu wrote. "I invited President Biden to pay a visit to our country."

Sandu has said repeatedly that she fears Russia wants to destabilise Moldova, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas, and accused Moscow last week of plotting to topple Moldova's leadership, an allegation denied by Moscow.

She has taken a pro-Western stance since being elected president in 2020, and has condemned Russia's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. Under her leadership, Moldova has secured European Union candidate status.

"I conveyed to President Biden that Moldovans want to remain part of the free world, to live safely and to realise their dream of joining the European Union," wrote Sandu, who also held talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw.

She thanked Biden for U.S. support for Moldova's economy and democracy, and for assistance in the energy sector.

Sandu made no mention on Facebook of Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision on Tuesday to revoke a decree that in part underpinned Moldova's sovereignty in resolving the future of its Transdniestria region, where Moscow keeps troops.

(Reporting by Alexander Tanas, Writing by Max Hunder, Editing by Timothy Heritage)