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Moldovan Communists Soften Stance On Missile Shield In Romania

Igor Smirnov, leader of Moldova's separatist Transdniester region
CHISINAU -- A top Moldovan Communist Party official has dismissed fears that Romania's intention to host a U.S. antimissile shield would trigger a regional arms race, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Communist legislator Vasily Sova said that Moldova, which is a neutral country, should discuss the matter with Bucharest and seek assurances that the new shield would not be detrimental to Moldova's security.

Sova also downplayed recent warnings by Igor Smirnov, the leader of Moldova's separatist Transdniester region, that he might ask for Russian missiles to be deployed in Transdniester to counter Romanian and U.S. plans.

Sova said Smirnov's remarks were "pure provocation."

Earlier this month, Moldovan Communist Party leader Vladimir Voronin blasted Romania's announcement that it was prepared to host U.S. missile interceptors. Voronin said the new shield would put Moldova "on the front line" of future confrontations.

Moldova's pro-Western Prime Minister Vlad Filat said on February 16 that Romania -- as a sovereign country and NATO member -- has every right to host U.S. missiles.