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US 'Deeply Committed' to Bulgarian Security, Democracy Kerry Says


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds onto Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov as they walk around a patch of ice on the sidewalk after holding a joint news conference in Sofia, Jan. 15, 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States is "deeply committed to Bulgaria's security, prosperity, and the health of its democratic institutions."

Kerry, who is on his first trip to Sofia as Secretary of State, made the comment in a joint news conference with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. He also met with President Rosen Plevneliev and foreign Minister Daniel Mitov, discussing diversification of Bulgaria's energy resources, defense cooperation, and bolstering the rule of law.

A senior State Department official said earlier that Bulgaria’s "significant" energy dependence is on the agenda because of Russia’s cancellation of the South Stream pipeline project last month.

The pipeline would have run under the Black Sea to southern and central Europe. Russia said it cancelled the project because of European opposition. The State Department official said the U.S. is working intensively to help Bulgaria find alternative energy supplies.

Kerry is also meeting, separately, with British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, who is on a tour of the region.

After Bulgaria, Kerry will travel to Paris where he will pay his respects to victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.