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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 15:56 GMT
Fund for Libya HIV victims agreed
Bulgarian nurses and President Georgi Parvanov
Bulgaria's President Parvanov has visited the nurses in Libya
Bulgaria and Libya have agreed to set up a fund for the families of 426 HIV-infected Libyan children, the Bulgarian foreign ministry has said.

The news comes two days before Libya's court is to hear an appeal by five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death for infecting the children in Benghazi.

The nurses - as well as a Palestinian doctor - say they were made scapegoats for poor hospital hygiene back in 1999.

Libya has hinted the verdicts could be quashed in return for humanitarian aid.

"The fund will seek, collect and co-ordinate the distribution of financial and material aid to the Benghazi families," a statement by the Bulgarian foreign ministry said.

It added that the move is "part of the international effort to find an outcome acceptable to all sides of the situation that followed the tragic spread of HIV/Aids in Benghazi".

In a newspaper interview on Friday, Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov said negotiations to have the nurses' death sentences lifted had made considerable progress.

The fund was agreed during talks in Libya's capital, Tripoli, earlier this week.

The European Commission, the United States and Britain have also signed up to the fund, the Bulgarian statement said.

About 50 of the infected children have died.

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