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Remarks With Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin Before Their Meeting

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
December 19, 2006

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. I would like to welcome my colleague Foreign Minister Kalfin of Bulgaria. We've met on a number of occasions. And of course the United States and Bulgaria enjoy a good and strong bilateral relationship based on our friendship, based on our common values. I know that we will have many issues to discuss, global issues around the world.

But I just want to say that I join with the Foreign Minister in expressing disappointment and concern about the verdict today -- or yesterday in Libya concerning the Bulgarian medics. We understand very much that there are children who have suffered and we are concerned for their suffering and that of their families. But we also are concerned that these medics will be allowed to go home at the earliest possible date. These are people who deserve to go home and we are very disappointed at the outcome of this verdict. And I want you to know Minister that we will continue to work for their early return to Bulgaria.

FOREIGN MINISTER KALFIN: Thank you very much and first of all, thank you very much for this opportunity. I also think that the whole list of issues both on bilateral side and also in our cooperation in the international field and international missions is very important also for us. I want to thank you very much for the whole support the United States of America has provided so far for the fate of our nurses in Libya.

We are extremely disappointed and concerned with today's verdict of the court. We hope that in the very near future, the whole legal procedure is going to be finalized in Libya. There is all the reasons to believe that they are innocent and they shouldn't be related to this to tragedy and we share compassion also and we share sympathy in the tragedy of the children. So hopefully, we shall do our best to urge the Libyan authorities, including the judicial authorities, to go ahead and to complete the whole procedure to allow the nurses to come to Bulgaria. Once again, thank you very much. We really appreciate your support.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. Thank you.

2006/1127



Released on December 19, 2006

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