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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Sees a Turning Point In Bulgarian Leader's Visit

APSaxcoburggotski, right, meeting with Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov.
President Vladimir Putin told the visiting Bulgarian prime minister Monday that he hoped for closer ties between their countries.

Putin said the visit by Simeon Saxcoburggotski -- Bulgaria's former king who lived in exile while his country was a Soviet satellite -- would be a "turning point" in relations between the countries, Interfax reported.

Putin lamented that Russian-Bulgarian economic cooperation had dropped in the last two years.

Russia is discussing possibly helping build a nuclear power plant in Bulgaria whose construction was stalled in 1990, Itar-Tass reported.

The Bulgarian government recently announced it would resume construction of the plant at the Danube port of Belene, 250 kilometers northeast of Sofia. Bulgaria has already invested $1.2 billion in the project, which was frozen under pressure from environmentalists.

"It is time to open a more favorable era in Russian-Bulgarian relations," Saxcoburggotski said, according to Interfax.

The Bulgarian language is relatively close to Russian and both countries use the Cyrillic alphabet. But Russia has in the past bristled at former Eastern Bloc nations like Bulgaria turning their backs on Russia for the West, including seeking entry into NATO.

However, Moscow has recently sought a course of reconciliation with the West and just last week became a limited NATO partner.