Moldovan Leader Preaches Neutrality

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said he wanted major powers to sign a declaration guaranteeing his country's neutrality, a step that could ease the way for a peace deal over its breakaway Transdnestr region.

Russia is wary that Moldova could join NATO and has said a guarantee that the tiny former Soviet republic will not join the alliance is a precondition for Moscow, a major player in the region, backing a peace deal with Transdnestr.

"Under the constitution our country is neutral," Voronin said in an interview published Tuesday in Kommersant.

"Now it is desirable to fix this status further in a declaration saying everyone acknowledges our neutrality."

"This document should be signed by ... Moldova as a sovereign state, as well as by Russia, Ukraine and the United States, as well as the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe," Voronin added.