Bulgarian President arrives in Russia

Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov has arrived in Russia for an official visit on the invitation of Vladimir Putin.

Purvanov's visit is timed for the 125th anniversary of Russia-Bulgaria relations.

According to Alexander Yakovenko, official spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry, "the sides are actively using the potential of mutually advantageous partnership in solving a wide range of pressing issues."

The Bulgarian leader will have a series of meetings with the Russian leadership.

Particular attention will be devoted to strategic trends of Russian-Bulgarian co-operation, with trade and economic ties being a priority.

In particular, at issue will be Russia's plans to privatise large facilities in Bulgaria's energy sector, to increase supplies of Russian gas to Bulgaria and its transit to the neighbouring Balkan countries.

The sides will continue exchanging opinions on pressing international problems, including European and regional security, the situation in the Balkans, in Iraq.

According to Alexander Yakovenko, the sides will consider "the opportunities of co-ordinating efforts within different international organisations, including the OSCE where Bulgaria is presiding in 2004."

The meetings in Moscow will consider "the dialogue with the EU and Nato, coordinate measures to counter international terrorism and other global threats and challenges."

The first session of the business forum envisaged by the joint declaration of the Russian and Bulgarian presidents will be held on the sidelines of the visit.

The source added that the programme of Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov's visit to Russia included his trip to St. Petersburg. The visit will last into July 8.