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Xi Says China Supports Serbia's EU Bid During Belgrade Visit

Presidents Xi Jinping of China (left) and Tomislav Nikolic of Serbia talk during the first Chinese visit in the last 30 years to Belgrade on June 17.

Chinese President Xi Jinping says Beijing wants to deepen its relations with Serbia and supports Belgrade's bid to join the European Union.

Xi said after meeting on June 18 with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic that the development of bilateral relations between China and Serbia was based on "big projects" and that Serbia held an important position in China's long-term plan to deepen trade relations and open new markets.

Xi signed a strategic partnership declaration on June 18 with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic along with 21 economic, energy, finance, infrastructure, defense, culture, and media deals and memorandums.

Xi arrived in Serbia on June 17 for a three-day visit, the first time a Chinese president has been in Serbia since 1986.

Serbia has enjoyed good relations with China since the 1990s, when Belgrade was economically isolated by the West for its role in the wars of accession following the breakup of Yugoslavia.

China has invested more than $1 billion in Serbia since 2009.

From Serbia, Xi will head to EU-member Poland before wrapping up his tour in Uzbekistan.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters