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Serbia gets vote of confidence from U.S.

Jan. 28, 2014 at 9:59 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Serbian efforts to normalize relations with Kosovo are deserving of praise, his spokesman said.

Hagel met in Washington with Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Rodic to discuss prospects for coordinating defense strategies. Hagel's spokesman, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said both sides signed a general military agreement that outlines how both sides would engage in military-to-military cooperation.

"The leaders discussed regional security concerns in the Balkans, and ways to build upon the positive momentum of the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue," Kirby said in a statement Monday. "Secretary Hagel praised the progress Serbia and Kosovo have made in normalizing relations, and highlighted the positive influence Minister Rodic has had in securing regional cooperation."

Stefan Fule, enlargement commissioner for the European Union, said last week the effort taken to normalize relations with Kosovo was a key step in ensuring a stronger relationship with Europe.

The Serbian government said it was embracing a reform agenda meant to erase years of isolation brought on by brutal wars in the Balkans in the 1990s.

Serbia and the EU started formal association talks Jan. 21.

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