Bulgarian PM Borissov, US President Trump confer at White House

The strategic partnership between the two countries has never been deeper

During his official visit to the US, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov conferred with US President Donald Trump at the Oval Office on Monday.

The US President welcomed the Bulgarian head of government at the White House south entrance. Contrary to plans, Trump invited the media before the start of the one-to-one meeting at the Oval Office. The President told reporters that a waiver of US visas for Bulgarians may be considered, “we're going to work on that problem”. The host added that the US has a “great friendship” with Bulgaria and that a lot of people from Bulgaria who have become US citizens live in the country, and “they're great people”. “We have a very good relationship,” he noted.

President Trump said that he might come to Bulgaria, as long as Borissov invites him. To the guest's remark that Bulgarian defence spending reached 3.1% of GDP, the host replied: “That's very good. You should tell that to Germany.” Bulgaria's defence budget exceeded the 2% target required by NATO thanks to the purchase of eight US-made F-16 fighter jets. “They buy a lot of military equipment from the United States - the best equipment in the world,” the US President pointed out.

“The strategic partnership between Bulgaria and the US has never been deeper. Our cooperation, based on common values, is all-embracing and comprehensive in security and defence, law enforcement, energy diversification, trade, investments and person-to-person contacts,” Borissov wrote in the White House guest book. “As close allies, we are working together to build world stability and peace and to advance the Western Balkans' Euro-Atlantic integration.”

“Bulgaria highly appreciates its strategic partnership with the US,” Borissov told Trump at the beginning of their meeting. The guest is satisfied with the steady political dialogue at all levels and is convinced that both countries will benefit from its further invigoration. The PM stressed the excellent bilateral partnership in a number of spheres. He noted the constructive interaction in the preparation and conclusion of the contract for the acquisition of F-16 Block 70 combat aircraft and laid a special emphasis on the industrial cooperation accompanying the modernisation of the Bulgarian Armed Forces.

The Prime Minister also noted the Bulgarian-US energy cooperation within the context of national security and mentioned the projects on which Bulgaria is working hard and which will contribute to a diversification of energy sources and routes.

Stressing the importance of trade and economic relations, Borissov said that American investors are welcome to Bulgaria and that his country promotes high-tech production. He listed Bulgaria's advantages as an investment destination.

The PM said that Bulgaria is also interested in pursuing cooperation with the US in education, science, tourism and people-to-people contacts.

The White House released a Joint Statement of the US President and the Bulgarian Prime Minister, saying that “our militaries stand together in the defence of freedom and look to reinforce our defence and deterrence posture across NATO's eastern flank, including in the Black Sea, which is critical for Euro-Atlantic security”. The two countries intend to explore ways of furthering their combined training opportunities in the future and to continue cooperation on the destruction of excess conventional weapons. “We commit to pursuing additional defence technology and industry partnerships in areas that are critical to regional defence and deterrence, including by continuing to facilitate access to high-end defence technologies and armaments that the United States deems available,” the Statement reads. “Recognising Bulgaria's interest in moving towards more efficient and cleaner sources of energy, we will cooperate on increasing the supply of gas from diverse and reliable sources and diversifying the nuclear energy sector. To this end, the United States intends to send a technical team to Bulgaria to work with Bulgarian counterparts to explore the possibilities for further cooperation in different areas of energy, including nuclear,” the document says further on. The two countries plan to support expeditiously the licensing and use of American nuclear fuel for the Kozloduy N-Plant. The Statement welcomes Bulgaria's aspirations to become a regional natural gas hub, which will significantly enhance Bulgaria's energy security, lower energy costs for the Bulgarian consumer, and make Bulgaria an energy leader in the region. The US supports Bulgaria's recent efforts “to defend the country's independence and sovereignty from malign influence” and “the long-term efforts of the institutions and agencies involved in investigating and exposing violations of Bulgarian law by foreign malign actors”. The US encourages Bulgaria to further address corruption and to further protect media freedoms. The US “supports Bulgaria's aspiration to join the Visa Waiver Programme and welcomes Bulgaria's continued progress towards meeting the statutory requirements for designation as a programme partner,” the Statement reads.

On Monday morning, Borissov and his delegation were welcomed with military honours at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Borissov laid a wreath at the memorial while the national anthems of Bulgaria and the United States were played.

The Bulgarian guests proceeded with a tour of the National Cemetery. The guest presented to the museum a dirk dagger featuring St George.

Later in the day, Borissov conferred with International Republic Institute (IRI) President Daniel Twining and with National Democratic Institute (NDI) VP Shari Bryan.

The guest told Twining he hopes that Bulgaria and the US will boost their relationship in the areas of defence, economy, foreign policy and energy as a result of his meeting with President Donald Trump. The IRI President said that he first visited Bulgaria together with Senator John McCain back when the country was aspiring to join NATO and they were aware even then that Bulgaria would be a wonderful ally in NATO. They were proved right. He stressed that he is glad that Bulgaria is a NATO member and a US ally, considering the numerous threats facing Europe at present.

Bulgaria is a leader to help the other Balkan countries, Twining said. The IRI will host a major meeting in Sofia with the US State Department and the Bulgarian Government between December 12 and 14. The forum will focus on combating extremism. Within this context, Borissov told the IRI President that Bulgaria will host the Aqaba Process in 2020. He and the King of Jordan had agreed on both counter-terrorism and counter-extremism processes taking place in Sofia.

The delegation that accompanies Borissov on his official visit to Washington, D.C. includes Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov and Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov.

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