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Britain Outraged at Romanian Behavior, Warns of Damaged Relations

February 22, 1989

LONDON (AP) _ Britain on Tuesday accused Romania of ″outrageous″ behavior and said relations could be damaged over the alleged manhandling of the British ambassador by Romanian militiamen last month.

Romanian Ambassador Stan Soare rejected the British account of the Jan. 27 incident during a frosty 30-minute interview with Foreign Office Minister William Waldegrave on Tuesday, the Foreign Office said.

The office said militiamen stopped British Ambassador Hugh Arbuthnott on Jan. 27 when he tried to deliver a letter to historian Doina Cornea, Romania’s most prominent dissident, at her home in Cluj, Transylvania. It said they ″pushed and manhandled″ him and told him he could not proceed.

Mrs. Cornea has been under house arrest since last fall after she wrote a letter to Western newspapers protesting President Nicolae Ceausescu’s plan to raze 7,000 villages and replace them with agro-industrial complexes.

The Foreign Office said Britain’s previous diplomatic attempts in the Arbuthnott case were unavailing.

Soare said Arbuthnott infringed traffic regulations and Mrs. Cornea’s activities were a matter for Romanian authorities alone, a Foreign Office spokesman reported on condition of anonymity.

Waldegrave said Mrs. Cornea’s circumstances were a matter of legitimate interest for Britain and were covered by the final document of the European Human Rights conference in Vienna, which Romania signed, the office said.

Soare was told the overall Romanian response to the incident was outrageous, the Foreign Office said.

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