Serbia and the United States agreed to conduct six or seven joint military and police training drills, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on April 10 after meeting with U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain in Belgrade.
During his one-day visit, McCain attended a training exercise involving the country's elite police and NATO military forces from Slovenia and the United States.
"Joint drills are important" to show the Balkan nations are ready to deal with militant fighters returning from the MIddle East, where U.S.-backed coalition forces are on the verge of recapturing Mosul and Raqqa from the Islamic State, McCain said.
Vucic said Serbia will not join NATO as it seeks to strike a balance between developing closer ties with the West through membership in the European Union and maintaining friendly ties with Russia..
Even so, last year Serbia conducted 206 joint military activities with NATO, versus 17 with Russia. It will later this year participate in a training drill in Kazakhstan staged by the Russia-controlled Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Vucic said he and McCain also discussed talks between Serbia and Kosovo on normalizing relations, and the political crises in neighboring Macedonia and Bosnia.