During a short visit to Sofia on Sunday, U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton hailed partnership between the U.S. and Bulgaria, highlighting co-operation within NATO and offering support for projects that would increase the country's energy independence.
Speaking at a news conference in the Bulgarian capital, the U.S. secretary of state also criticised Russia and China over their decision to block a UN resolution condemning the violence in Syria, and said the U.S. will press for further sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al Assad's regime.
"As NATO allies Bulgaria and the United States work side by side around the world to address critical issues from ensuring a successful transition in Afghanistan to keeping peace in Kosovo to diversifying and securing our energy supplies, including in the nuclear sector. We are partners in helping to advance Bulgaria's energy independence and security and in protecting the beautiful Bulgarian nature," Clinton told a news conference after meeting Prime Minister Boiko Borisov. She added she was sending her special envoy for Eurasian energy, Richard Morningstar, for talks in this area.
"Bulgarian nature and environment protection come first, then come financial and economic benefits," Borisov told the same news conference, adding that unless the public was persuaded that a process was not dangerous, it could not move forward.
In July Bulgaria granted U.S oil company Chevron a five-year oil and gas exploration licence. However, last month, Bulgaria's Parliament imposed an indefinite ban on shale gas exploration and extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as companies that hold permits to explore and extract gas using the controversial method have three months to submit for approval new working projects that exclude it, or will else lose their permits.
Meeting with President Rosen Plevneliev earlier in the day, Clinton said that the administration of President Obama, together with the Congress, will continue to seek a solution to the issue of visa restrictions for Bulgarian citizens traveling to the U.S., and to signing a bilateral agreement on social security, the press office of the Bulgarian president said in a press release.