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    MOSCOW, February 17, 2004. (RIA Novosti). Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov expressed deep satisfaction with the recent development of Russian-Bulgarian relations.

    "We managed to overcome a difficult stage in our relations and are building a new future-oriented stage," Ivanov said following the talks with his Bulgarian counterpart, OSCE Chairman-in-office Solomon Pasi in Moscow on Tuesday.

    The Russian minister pointed out the expansion of Russian and Bulgarian possibilities on the international scene. He also spoke about the substantial growth of the Russian-Bulgarian trade turnover. In 2003 it totaled 1.5 billion dollars.

    However, both Russia and Bulgaria can be hardly satisfied with the present level and structure of the trade turnover, the Russian Foreign Minister noted.

    According to Igor Ivanov, the sides agreed to develop cooperation in this sphere.

    On his part, the Bulgarian Foreign Minister noted that today nothing can prevent the development of bilateral cooperation in all spheres.

    The Russian-Bulgarian agreement on cooperation in the spheres of science, culture and education for 2004-2008 and the plan of consultations between Foreign Ministries for 2004 were signed during the talks.

    "Europe and the world are interested in stable, prosperous and strong Russia," the Russian Foreign Minister told a Bulgarian journalist who asked him if Russia's consolidation could threaten Bulgaria's security.

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