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    MOSCOW, February 17th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) -- Moscow positively assesses the dynamics of Russia's relations with Bulgaria. Igor Ivanov, Russia's foreign minister, made a statement to this effect when opening negotiations in Moscow with his Bulgarian counterpart Solomon Pasi, the OSCE chairman in office.

    In Igor Ivanov's words, a qualitatively new atmosphere in Russian-Bulgarian relations has been created of late, primarily due to top-level contacts.

    "We closely interacted with you [Bulgaria] at the [UN] Security Council. We are interested to preserve this interaction and the experience we have accumulated in our work along other lines. Such an opportunity appears in connection with Bulgaria's chairmanship of the OSCE," Igor Ivanov stressed.

    Russia's foreign minister dwelled on the development of trade and economic relations between Russia and Bulgaria. "There are some positive dynamics in their development. However, much is to be done in this sphere, since the larger part of the 1990s was wasted and now we have to restore traditional contacts and open new markets," Ivanov noted.

    In his opinion, a new page in Russia-Bulgarian relations is opening now. "We would like to return to our traditionally good historical relations that existed between our countries in the past," Ivanov said.

    On his part, Bulgaria's foreign minister Solomon Pasi expressed his condolences in connection with the terrorist act in the Moscow underground. He pointed out that Russian-Bulgarian cooperation in the sphere of struggle against terrorism should be continued in future.

    "In the period of our temporary work at the UN Security Council, we have accumulated an extensive experience which can be used in future, too," he said. Solomon Pasi also stressed that as regards Russian-Bulgarian relations over the past three years, they had never been better since 1990.

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