Putin pledges continued economic and political support to Serbia

15:05, March 24, 2011      

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Visiting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin atends a press conference after his meeting with Serbian President Boris Tadic in Belgrade on March 23, 2011. Putin is paying a one-day visit to Serbia. (Xinhua/Milan Obradovic)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, on a high-profile, one-day state visit to Belgrade, on Wednesday pledged continued economic and political support to Serbia.

After a meeting of Serbian and Russian delegations, Putin and Serbian President Boris Tadic emerged from a private meeting to address a joint press conference.

"Russia is one of the most important partners of our country with whom we have one of the highest degrees of consensus on international issues," said Tadic.

Putin confirmed Russia's continued support for Serbia's policy towards Kosovo, the southern province that unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. He said Russia called for direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina to resolve the final status of Kosovo in accordance with UN resolution 1244.

"It is an extremely important contribution of Russia in safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia in Kosovo in the UN Security Council," said Tadic.

The two leaders also said they shared "identical" positions with respect to the current events in Libya, expressing concern over the protection of civilian population.

Tadic said he received assurances from Putin of continued investment in Serbia, in particular in the energy sector. Russia's state gas company Gazprom owns a controlling share of Serbia's oil and gas monopoly NIS.

Tadic said investment in the Serbian firm were justified and profitable and he expected further Russian investment in the oil refinery in Pancevo, just east of Belgrade. Putin said Russia would like to expand the economic exchange between the two countries.

Russia is Serbia's biggest trade partner with 2.7 billion dollars in trade in 2010.

"Russian companies will help Serbia to build railway lines, on the other hand, we would like to take advantage of the extensive experience of Serbian partners in building tourist facilities," said Putin, adding that he expected the participation of Serbian firms in the construction of facilities for the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014 and the World Cup in 2018.

Source: Xinhua

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