U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has offered Serbia what he calls a strong new relationship with the United States.
Belgrade Wednesday, Biden also said Washington does not expect Serbia
to recognize Kosovo's independence as a "precondition" for backing
Belgrade's European Union membership.
Biden spoke to reporters in the capital, after talks with Serbian President Boris Tadic.
promised the United States would use its influence, energy and
resources to promote Belgrade's full EU membership, despite stark
differences over Kosovo's status.
The former Serbian province
declared independence last year, despite strong protests from Belgrade
and its traditional ally, Russia. The United States and many Western
governments quickly endorsed the Kosovo declaration.
part, President Tadic repeated his country's strong opposition to an
independent Kosovo. But he also said his government wishes for what he
called the best possible relations with Washington.
Biden is the most senior U.S. official to visit Belgrade in almost three decades.
Serbians view the United States as anti-Serb, with mistrust stemming
from the 1999 U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign aimed at ending the deadly
Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
He arrived early Wednesday, following a one-day visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
visits Kosovo Thursday, where he meets President Fatmir Sejdiu and
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci. His one-day visit will include an address
to the Kosovo Assembly and a visit to U.S. troops contributing to the
NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.