Bulgaria Welcomes Israel's PM Netanyahu on Rare Visit

Bulgaria Welcomes Israel's PM Netanyahu on Rare Visit

Benjamin Netanyahu arrives on Thursday in Bulgaria, the first visit of an Israeli prime minister to the country for the last two decades.

The Israeli delegation will include ministers of finance, telecommunications, construction and civil defense.

The visit is at the invitation of Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

In Sofia Netanyahu is scheduled to confer with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and President Georgi Parvanov.

A highlight on the agenda will the joint sitting to be held by the Bulgarian and Israeli cabinets. According to Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Vesela Cherneva, the joint sitting will make history as the first such event in the region, as this far Israel has held such a meeting only with the governments of Italy and Germany.

Three intergovernmental agreements are expected to be signed at the meeting: one for cooperation in the military industry sector, one on mutual protection of investments, and one on the stimulation of R&D in the private sector.

The official visit of PM Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers also includes an evening meeting with the Bulgarian Jewish community in the Sofia Synagogue.

Israeli media cited diplomatic officials as saying that the visit is not just about the Palestinian statehood bid, but rather a chance to promote relations and cultivate friendship.

Bulgaria both recognized a Palestinian state in 1988 when they were under Soviet domination, Israel is trying to get them not to support the Palestinian move in September. Insiders told Israeli media that the signals given by Bulgaria's foreign minister are encouraging.

Bulgaria is considered among the most friendly countries toward Israel in the EU. Bilateral relations were given a boost as Israel's ties with Turkey with Turkey deteriorated and the country tried to improve its ties with Turkey's historic rivals in the region. (Source: Sofia News Agency)

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