Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov held talks on December 15 with US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan on issues including security, energy, investment and bilateral relations, the government information service in Sofia said.
Borissov reiterated his reassurances that Bulgaria was fully fulfilling its commitments to Nato and confirmed again that the country would increase its defence spending to two per cent of GDP by 2024, and would increase investments in arms and equipment.
At the Nato summit in July, US President Donald Trump – who frequently alleges unfairness over financial contributions to Nato – reportedly claimed to have secured a commitment from other member states to increase defence spending by the beginning of 2019. This was denied by other Nato partners, who pointed to the summit’s communique that reiterated the commitment to increasing spending to two per cent of GDP by 2024.
Trump returned to the topic again in November, saying on Twitter: “We pay for large portions of other countries’ military protection…it is time that these very rich countries either pay the United States for its great military protection, or protect themselves.”
At the talks in Sofia, Sullivan emphasised that Bulgaria was a stable and predictable partner within the Nato alliance and on a bilateral basis, the Bulgarian government statement said.
The statement said that Sullivan handed Borissov a message from Trump on the importance to the US of friendly and partnership bilateral relations with Bulgaria, and the high value placed on them.
In the meeting, energy security and co-operation between the US and Bulgaria were emphasised, the statement said.
Borissov briefed Sullivan on progress on the gas interconnector between Bulgaria and Greece, on Bulgaria’s ambition to develop its role in the transmission and trade in gas, as well as on the Belene nuclear power station project.
“Bulgaria is pursuing a policy aimed at ensuring energy security for the country as well as for the EU,” Borissov said.
Bulgaria was working actively for energy diversification and gas pipeline projects with neighbouring countries, the statement quoted Borissov as saying.
During his visit, Sullivan also held talks with Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva on December 14 and with President Roumen Radev on December 15.