U.S. would never ask friends and allies to choose - Nuland

The United States understands that Serbia has traditionally strong ties with Russia, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said in Belgrade Monday.

Izvor: Beta, Tanjug

According to her, Washington sees no contradiction with Belgrade having good relations with both Russia and the United States.

The U.S. is proud to have Serbia as a partner, she said after a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

"We understand that Serbia has long ties with Russia. We don't see any contradiction with Serbia having a good relationship with Russia and a good relationship with the U.S. - we would never ask friends or allies to choose," Nuland said.

The U.S. will always support Serbia on its European route, she said.

Nuland also highlighted the role Serbia has in the region, in regional cooperation and reconciliation.

The U.S. also sees as very important the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, she said.

We advocate the Belgrade-Pristina dialog. We see that it is improving, but it is a process that will take time, Nuland said.

"The U.S. is enormously proud to be Serbia's partner as Serbia continues on its democratic transition, strengthening rule of law, strengthening media freedoms, strengthening the environment for investments, and we are particularly proud to support Serbia's European choice," she said.

Serbia has good relations with the U.S. but it wants to develop them further, Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday, particularly thanking Nuland "for her commitment to that objective."

Speaking at a joint press conference, Vucic said that the discussions had addressed important topics - primarily bilateral political and economic relations - and that Serbia had expressed an interest in greater presence of U.S. investors.

"We believe we can attract more investors to Serbia and we will do everything to improve legal certainty as part of the rule of law and attract more investors," Vucic noted, adding that the political relations were very good but that they could be even better.

Serbia expressed gratitude for the U.S. support on its European path, and Vucic announced that the Serbian government would be represented at the top level in Brussels on July 18, the date of the opening of Chapters 23 and 24 in the EU accession talks.

Regional stability is also important to Serbia, Vucic said, adding that he had discussed this with Nuland as well.

"Full regional and full political stability is important to us, and I said that Serbia would invest much energy and effort to preserve peace and stability in the region because we are not afraid of tough reforms," Vucic said, adding that Serbia's ambitious economic plans for 2016 and 2017 required regional stability.

Earlier in the day, Nuland also had separate meetings with Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, a parliamentary delegation and a group of civil society representatives, including Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic and Rodoljub Sabic, Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection.

Dacic and Nuland agreed that the security cooperation between the two countries was very significant, especially in fighting terror. The meeting included U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter and U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott.

In her meeting with Gojkovic, Nuland said the U.S. supported the broaching of Chapters 23 and 24 in the negotiations on Serbia joining the EU.

Sabic discussed the rule of law with Assistant Secretary Nuland. He tweeted that the topics of the talk were the state of law, legality and human rights.


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