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Bulgaria: Foreign Minister To Begin Visit To U.S. Today

Sofia, 16 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhaylova is due to begin an official visit to the United States today.

The Bulgarian foreign ministry says the trip, at the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, marks the first time a Bulgarian foreign minister has been invited to Washington by a U.S. Secretary of State.

Mikhaylova is due to meet with Albright, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, and U.S. defense officials and congressmen. The Bulgarian foreign ministry says her talks are expected to focus on increasing bilateral cooperation and on Sofia's efforts to join NATO.

The visit comes after U.S. President Bill Clinton's announcement last week that only the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary should be invited to join NATO in the first round of expansion. NATO is due to extend official invitations to new members at a Madrid summit next month.

Meanwhile in Sofia today, Martin Bangemann, EU commissioner for industrial affairs, information technologies and telecommunication, discussed with Bulgarian officials steps aimed at accelerating Bulgaria's integration into the European Union.

The chairman of the Bulgarian parliamentary Committee for Foreign and Integration Policies, Assen Agov, said they also discussed possible joint Bulgarian-EU projects related to infrastructure development, telecommunication, as well as road construction, development of the railways net and aviation.