Sofia Downtown Traffic Comes to Standstill over Clinton's Visit

Diplomacy | February 3, 2012, Friday // 17:39|  views

Hillary Clinton has already been to Bulgaria in 1998 in her capacity of First Lady. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Downtown Sofia will be closed for all traffic after 11 am on Sunday, February 5, for the 5-hour visit of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Parking in downtown will be banned since 7 am on the same morning.

Clinton is expected to land at Sofia airport around 12 pm and then meet with Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, and President, Rosen Plevneliev. She will have a joint press conference with the PM after the talks.

The US Secretary of State is arriving from Munich, Germany, where she will take part in a conference on security. Experts say her being there shows that Europe remains very important part of the US agenda.

The visit to Sofia comes on the invitation of Foreign Affairs Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, back in October 2010 during his visit to the US when the Bulgarian government's anti-corruption measures were discussed.

Topics of the talks in Bulgaria are expected to include alleviating US visa regime for Bulgarian citizens, Bulgaria recognizing years of service for Bulgarians, who have worked in the US; strategic partnership between Bulgaria and the US in the security sector, in NATO and in the NATO mission in Afghanistan, partnership on the Balkans, the joint Bulgarian-American military training grounds, and the situation in the Middle East.

It was further reported that during her visit to Bulgaria, Clinton is to extend an official offer to the Bulgarian government for the acquiring from the American army of several secondhand fighter jets F-16. They will be a gift, but Bulgaria will have to find the money for repairs and for putting them into use.

Many in Bulgaria, however, voiced opinions that the visit had been by prompted the recent ban imposed on the use by the US Chevron company of hydraulic fracturing in the country. Mladenov insists the visit has been planned for a long time.

Hillary Clinton has already been to Bulgaria in her capacity of First Lady, when husband Bill Clinton was US President. The visit to Sofia took place in October 1998, when she participated in the conference "Women of the 21st century."

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Tags: sofia, downown, traffic, parking, Boyko Borisov, Rosen Plevneliev, first lady, years of service, visa regime, Nikolay Mladenov, Foreign Affairs Minister, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, F-16, American army, fighter jets, Munich, security, hydraulic fracturing, shale gas


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