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Rice On Defense Cooperation Agmnt With Bulgaria

Remarks After Signing Defense Cooperation Agreement

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Sofia, Bulgaria
April 28, 2006

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. I want to very much welcome the Defense Cooperation Agreement between Bulgaria and the United States. It is an agreement that, indeed, will enhance our cooperation, allowing the shared use of Bulgarian training facilities and strengthening our ability to operate together militarily, but it is more than that, because it's really a foundational agreement for the broad partnership that Bulgaria and the United States have developed and are developing.

Earlier, I met with President Purvanov and with Prime Minister Stanishev and I was able to say to them how much we appreciate the excellent relationship with (inaudible) Bulgaria, a valuable and (inaudible) and valued ally. And Bulgaria is showing itself to be committed to the forward march of democracy as it works together with us and with NATO and Afghanistan, as it shoulders responsibility for Iraq. And we recognize that none of it comes without sacrifice. And indeed, we want very much to let Bulgaria know that we will not forget the heroism of its soldiers, those who gave their lives and that their families know that the American people and the Iraqi people appreciate that sacrifice.

This is also a time to recognize that we have broadened and deepened our economic and commercial relationship to meet the high level of our political and (inaudible) relations and we intend to do that. The United States recognizes that Bulgaria is involved in the efforts to (inaudible) to EU membership, which is something we strongly support. We know that Bulgaria is making the necessary reforms, particularly in the area of rule of law and we strongly support Bulgaria's efforts toward EU membership.

Finally, I want to note that we are working with the people of Europe and also with the Libyan Government. We believe very strongly that the Bulgarian (inaudible) have been too long in captivity, that this is a humanitarian case. This is time for them to go home and we hope that that will happen very soon. So thank you very much for the depth of our relationship, for our relationship that is based on values and for a relationship that has, I think, a very bright future and one that is very much evident in what we have been able to do here in this Defense Cooperation Agreement, but I think will be shown to be much broader and much deeper than just defense. Thank you.

2006/T12-16

Released on April 28, 2006


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