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2005-08-23 15:12:00
Embassy Sofia
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SOFIA 001477 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/23/2015

Classified By: CDA Jeffrey Levine, reasons 1.5(b) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY. Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin told Charge'
August 22 that Bulgaria would not follow the "Spanish model"
in its withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, the Bulgarian
departure, planned to take place before the end of the year,
will be done in close consultation with the U.S. and other
Coalition partners. He emphasized that the new government
wants to be seen as a reliable partner, and he said Bulgaria
was willing to talk about other missions. "Bulgaria will not
abandon Iraq or the coalition," Kalfin said. He was eager to
move ahead with discussion of possible stationing of U.S.
forces in Bulgaria. Kalfin thanked the U.S. for its support
on behalf of the Bulgarian medical workers imprisoned in
Libya, and said he looked forward to discussing the issue
with CODEL Hagel following the Senator's meetings in Tripoli.
He agreed with the need to maintain a predictable,
transparent environment for U.S. investors, and to continue
our close cooperation on arms and dual-use export controls.
Kalfin confirmed that he would be in New York September 20-22
for the UNGA FM event, and he welcomed a possible meeting
with the Secretary. He may also accompany President Purvanov
to NY September 16-17. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Charge' paid a courtesy call on FM Kalfin at the
beginning of his first full week in office, urging the
Bulgarian government to move slowly on Iraq despite a
campaign promise to withdraw immediately. Kalfin, who is
also one of three deputy Prime Ministers, said Bulgaria's new
Socialist-led coalition government would be "a predictable
and loyal partner of the U.S," and its policy toward Iraq
would be shaped within this context. The new government will
stick to its predecessor's decision to withdraw its combat
troops from Iraq at the end of the year, but would do so in
close consultation with Coalition partners. "We are ready to
talk about other missions," Kalfin said, mentioning in
particular training of the Iraqi security forces, "and we
need to think about Afghanistan as well." The new government
looks forward to discussing its future Iraq policy with the
U.S. as soon as it completes its own internal deliberations.
Though Bulgaria would bring its combat troops home at the end
of the year, "we are not withdrawing from Iraq or the
Coalition," Kalfin said.

3. (C) Kalfin expressed a desire to quickly resume
negotiations on stationing of U.S. forces in Bulgaria, but
acknowledged that his government was not yet sufficiently
prepared or staffed for a substantive discussion of the
issue. He promised to review the proposed Status of Forces
Agreement (SOFA) and Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), and
to re-engage as soon as possible. "We will not delay," he
said. Charge' committed to invite Ambassador Loftis and his
team back to Bulgaria as soon as the government is ready.
Kalfin noted that Bulgaria would also like to discuss the
modernization of its armed forces with the U.S. Charge'
noted in response that the director of the Defense Security
Cooperation Agency, LTG Koler, would visit Bulgaria in mid

4. (C) On Libya, Kalfin said Bulgaria would continue to work
within the trilateral U.S./EU/Bulgaria format to gain the
release of the five Bulgarian nurses unjustly imprisoned in
Libya. "We rely on your assistance and help," he said.
Charge' urged Kalfin to review the food-for-thought paper
provided to the previous government by deputy Legal Advisor
Jonathan Schwartz. Kalfin agreed the UK presidency had
further energized the EU in support of the medics. He was
noncommittal, however, when asked about the prospect of
direct, confidential negotiations between Bulgaria and Libya.
He said that UK officials planned soon to discuss the
nurses' fate with the Libyan ambassador in London, who was
Minister of Justice at the time of the nurses arrest. "We
need to take all measures possible" before the next court
hearing on November 15, Kalfin added. He said that he looks
forward to meeting with Senator Hagel on August 29, following
the latter's meetings in Tripoli.

5. (C) Charge' said the U.S. wanted to increase bilateral
trade and investment, but the new government must do its part
to maintain a welcoming investment climate. It would send a
very bad signal to U.S. investors if the recent agreement
with the U.S. film production company Nu Image to privatize
Boyana Film Studios were not upheld. Kalfin was supportive.
He said that he had spoken to the chairman of the
privatization agency about Boyana. "The contract has been
signed," he said; "I don't see any reconsideration of the
deal." He cautioned, however, that the courts would likely
have the final say, and suggested that the Embassy meet with
the new Minister of Culture, who was the most prominent
skeptic within the government. In the end, "I don't think
it's going to be a problem," Kalfin said. He stressed that
Bulgaria's priority was to attract more U.S. investment, and
for this reason it would also like to move ahead quickly with
the negotiation of a treaty on the avoidance of double
taxation (DTT).

6. (C) Charge' emphasized the importance the U.S. places on
arms and dual-use export controls. In response, Kalfin said
he looked forward to continued cooperation between the MFA
and the Embassy on this issue.

7. (C) COMMENT: The new Foreign Minister appears committed
to close relations with the U.S. He clearly understands the
sensitivity of Iraq in our relationship, and we will
encourage him to play an advocacy role for continued
Bulgarian military involvement. With less than a week in the
position, he seemed familiar with important issues, but the
appointment of deputy ministers and re-establishing the
inter-ministerial process will be necessary before the MFA is
again fully functioning.

8. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.