President George W. Bush told Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov on Thursday that he was disappointed with a Libyan court decision to reimpose the death sentences on Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of infecting Libyan children with the HIV virus.
Bush spoke with Purvanov on the phone from the White House about the Tuesday decision, expressing his strong support for Bulgaria's efforts to secure the release of the medics, said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
The president also congratulated Purvanov on Bulgaria's accession as a member of the European Union, which will formally take place on Jan. 1.
Death sentences handed down in Libya for five Bulgarian nurses accused of deliberately infecting 400 children with HIV triggered outrage Wednesday in Bulgaria. A court in Tripoli on Tuesday convicted the nurses and a Palestinian doctor and sentenced them to death, despite scientific evidence the youngsters had the virus before the medical workers arrived in Libya.