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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chernomyrdin Visits Bulgaria to Discuss Bilateral Trade

SOFIA -- Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin arrived in Bulgaria on Thursday for a long-delayed official visit to rekindle relations cooled by the collapse of the communist bloc five years ago.

"I must say that ... relations between Russia and Bulgaria will develop constructively," Chernomyrdin told reporters on arrival at Sofia airport.

Chernomyrdin held talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Zhan Videnov behind closed doors. Among the issues on his agenda are liberalizing trade, restoring industrial cooperation and setting up joint ventures in agriculture and food processing.

Trade volume between Russia and Bulgaria, once Moscow's staunchest ally, slumped from $14.4 billion in 1990 to $1.8 billion in 1994.

Sofia, treated on the same footing as Western importers since 1989, is hoping to regain preferential trading status with Moscow and to reduce tariff barriers.

Bulgaria also is keen to extend a preferential price agreement on natural gas supplies after the current bilateral accord expires in 1997. But Moscow, Bulgaria's sole provider of gas, has not yet accepted the request, Deputy Prime Minister Kiril Tsochev said.