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Bulgarian Foreign Minister Visits Tripoli Amid HIV Row

18 May 2004 -- Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi flew to Tripoli and pledged dialogue with Libya to end a heated dispute over the recent death sentences given to five Bulgarian nurses.

Pasi was greeted by a senior diplomat from the Libyan Foreign Ministry upon his arrival in Tripoli before meetings with government ministers later.

It was not clear if he was to meet with Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, who was invited yesterday by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov to visit Sofia.

Earlier this month a Libyan court sentenced the five nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death for intentionally infecting 426 Libyan children with the virus that causes AIDS in the port city of Benghazi. They had been on trial for five years.

Bulgaria has called the verdicts "unfair and absurd" but Libyan officials defend the ruling as the outcome of a fair process.