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Medvedev travels to Serbia to secure key pipeline deal

Medvedev travels to Serbia to secure key pipeline deal

Russia signed a gas pipeline deal with Serbia on Monday that underscores Moscow's increasingly closer ties with Belgrade.
The plan clears the way for the construction of the South Stream pipeline through Serbia en route to Western Europe.
Details on the deal _ expected to be worth as much as US$1.5 billion (euro1.01 billion) _ will be released later Monday.
The deal is the centerpiece of a visit by Dmitry Medvedev, the man widely expected to be Russia's next president. Medvedev said the agreement and other related deals "form the foundation of energy stability for all of Europe in the future."
The accord was signed by Alexei Miller, Gazprom's chief executive officer, and Sasa Ilic, the acting head of Srbijagas, the country's natural gas monopoly.
Later Monday, Medvedev goes to Hungary to discuss gas arrangements with government leaders there, officials said.
Though Medvedev's visit has focused on economic issues, his talks with President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica also dealt with the tensions caused by Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia.
Moscow has emerged as Belgrade's primary ally in the Kosovo crisis.
The United States and some European Union nations quickly recognized Kosovo's declared statehood last week, but Moscow declared the move illegal and warned that it will block efforts to get the new nation to join the United Nations or other international organizations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Kosovo's declaration represented "a terrifying precedent," and warned the West that the decision would "come back to knock them on the head."
Medvedev said in Belgrade that "all such declarations violate the international system of security and the system of international law that the world has built in the past 100 years."
He added that Kosovo's independence declaration "absolutely" violated international rules. Moscow and Serbia will "coordinate" their future moves in the crisis, he said.
"Serbia needs support now," Medvedev said.
Serbian officials praised the Russian stand. President Tadic, in a statement, thanked Russia for its backing, while Prime Minister Kostunica said Serbia and Russia would continue to coordinate their policies.
Medvedev is being accompanied by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Diplomatic officials in Belgrade said Medvedev's statements will be watched closely for indications of Russia's foreign policy after Putin steps down in May.
Several dozen supporters of the pro-Western Liberal Democratic Party, meanwhile, held a protest in front of the Russian Embassy over recent comments on Moscow state television criticizing Serbia's slain reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.
The party activists handed to the embassy a letter for Medvedev demanding that he denounce the anti-Djindjic comments.


Updated : 2021-08-01 17:48 GMT+08:00