Iraq's Odious Debts

Velchev in U.S. for talks

Sofia Echo, Bulgaria
June 27, 2003

Finance Minister Milen Velchev and his deputy Krassimir Katev went on a working visit to the US this week to discuss the returning of the Iraqi debt to Bulgaria.

Velchev and Katev had meetings with representatives of the US congress, the senate and the government.

On the first day of the visit, Velchev had a meeting with Arthur Pilzer, vice president of the US company Bechtel Enterprises.

The two discussed Bulgarian participation in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq.

Velchev and Pizler discussed the investment opportunities for Bechtel in construction projects in Bulgaria.

On Tuesday Velchev and Katev had meetings with representatives of the US state administration.

After the meetings Velchev said Bulgaria was willing to wait a couple of years more, as it had waited for 13 years already to get back its debt from Iraq.

“What is really important is to receive as large percentage of the debt as possible,” Velchev said.

He said all representatives of the administration showed understanding for the issue.

“What we want to achieve is a start of the negotiations for the returning of the debt as soon as possible,” Velchev said. “But for the purpose we need a legitimate subject with which to hold the talks.”

He also discussed the sale of the debt to third parties.

“There is the option to sell the debt to investment banks and to receive $ 250 million within a week,” Velchev said. “We, however, wish to get back a larger share of it.”

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