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News 16 Aug 16

Biden Visits Serbia to Bolster EU Progress

US Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in Belgrade for meetings with top officials expected to focus on Serbia’s EU membership ambitions and its relations with Kosovo and Russia.

Sasa Dragojlo
BIRN
Belgrade
US Vice President Joe Biden welcomed by Serbian officials at Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Airport. Photo: Beta

Biden was welcomed at Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Airport on Tuesday by senior officials before heading for meetings in the capital and a ceremonial welcome from Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic at the Palace of Serbia.

Analysts see the visit as a demonstration of support for the Balkan state's EU membership ambitions, but it is also expected that one of the topics under discussion at meetings with Vucic and Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic will be Serbia's thorny relations with Kosovo.

The unresolved murders of brothers Ylli, Agron and Mehmet Bytyqi, US citizens of Albanian origin who fought for the Kosovo Liberation Army before they were killed in Serbia in 1999, will also be on the agenda.

Serbia’s relations with Russia will be discussed, ahead of a visit by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Serbia, expected in early September.

Serbian newspaper Politika reported on August 13 meanwhile that four former Guantanamo Bay detainees woull arrive to be resettled in Serbia on the eve of Biden's visit.

Two other freed Guantanamo detainees, Tajik national Muhammadi Davlatov and Yemeni national Mansur Ahamd Saad al-Dayfi, arrived in Serbia on July 11 during a visit by US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.

Uncomfirmed reports say Biden will be accompanied during the visit by his wife and a 400-plus delegation, while the highest possible level of security will be imposed in Belgrade.

After Belgrade, Biden will head for Pristina, where he is expected to arrive on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, he will hold meetings with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Prime Minister Isa Mustafa.

Biden will also participate in a ceremony to name a road after his deceased son Beau Biden near Camp Bondsteel, the main base for US troops serving with NATO forces in Kosovo.

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