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Bulgaria: Minister Tours Former Soviet Republics

Sofia, 7 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhailova left today on a tour of six former Soviet republics in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Mikhailova told reporters at Sofia airport that the aim of her tour is "to build a bridge" between Bulgaria and the six nations. Mikhailova is the first Bulgarian Foreign Minister to visit Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Mikhailova is accompanied by a delegation of businessmen. Bozhidar Danev, head of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, told our correspondent Bulgaria wants to revive traditional trade contacts with the former Soviet republics. Danev said the problem of some of the six nations' debts to Bulgaria will be discussed as well.

In Turkmenistan, Mikhailova is also expected to discuss prospects for oil and gas deals in order to lessen Sofia's dependence on Russian gas supplies.