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The Bulgarian ambassador bid farewell to Washington as the Bulgarian prime minister began a three-day visit to the capital this week to hold talks with President Bush and members of Congress.

For Ambassador Elena Poptodorova, the reception Tuesday for Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev was a bitter-sweet affair. The vivacious diplomat with flashing eyes and enchanting smile came to Washington in 2002 and served here as her country solidified its roots in Europe by joining NATO in 2004 and the European Union in 2007 and proved its alliance with the United States by sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I will be taking with me the best memories of the Bulgarian-American success story,” Mrs. Poptodorova told guests at the reception on the top floor of the Newseum with its panoramic view of the heart of Washington.

“You have everybody who’s anybody in this town here tonight. You’re all friends of Bulgaria.”

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, addressing the guests, told the ambassador, “I’m sorry to see your tenure here come to an end. You have been an effective representative of your country.”

He added that he could think of “no more complex country [than the United States] to be an ambassador to.”

Mr. Negroponte called Bulgaria “a valued ally of the United States committed to winning the war against terrorism.”

Rep. Joe Wilson, co-chairman of the House Bulgaria caucus, disclosed he developed a love affair with Bulgaria after visiting the capital, Sofia. The South Carolina Republican also confessed that Bulgaria was the first European country he ever visited.

“This is a dream come true for me to see the flags of the United States and the flags of Bulgaria together over the capital of the United States,” he said, standing on a stage flanked by both flags.

Mr. Stanishev, prime minister since August 2005, recalled how the U.S.-Bulgarian relationship has developed since the fall of communism in Bulgaria in 1990.

“Eighteen years ago what did Americans know about Bulgaria, and what did Bulgaria know about the U.S.A.?” he asked, adding his own amazement at “how rapidly the relationship has changed.”

On Wednesday Mr. Stanishev visited Mr. Bush at the White House, where the president praised Bulgaria as “a constructive force for stability, a constructive force for hope.”


As ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman fought officials in Washington who wanted to build a new U.S. Embassy near the headquarters of a terrorist group.

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James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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