CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldova's prime minister has called on Russia to join in talks about reversing Moscow's ban on imports of Moldovan wine.

Prime Minister Iurie Leanca on Wednesday asked Moscow to begin talks "to develop a system of exporting alcoholic beverages" in line with bilateral trade agreements and based on World Trade Organization rules, his office said. President Nicolae Timofti called Russia's ban "unfriendly."

Russia said Tuesday it was banning Moldovan wine and brandy because they did not meet quality standards.

However, many in Moldova suspect the ban is an attempt to dissuade the former Soviet republic from signing an association agreement with the EU in November.

Russia is the top market for Moldovan wine and brandy, with sales of $61 million last year.

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