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Vucic Expresses 'Deep Gratitude' To Putin As Serbian, Russian Leaders Meet At Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 2.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has thanked his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for protecting Serbia's national interests, as the two leaders met for the second time in Moscow this year.

"I would like to express my deep gratitude to you personally, Mr. President, for your firm position aimed at protecting international law and the crucial national and state interests of Serbia," Vucic told Putin at the Kremlin on October 2, according to TASS news agency.

The meeting comes amid continued tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008.

Kosovo's independence has been recognized by more than 100 countries, but not by Serbia or Russia.

Belgrade and Pristina in 2013 committed to EU-mediated talks to resolve their differences, but little progress has been made.

Speaking at the start of his meeting with Putin, the Serbian president said the situation in the Western Balkans was "very difficult" and that Serbia had been facing "numerous provocations on an everyday basis."

"Despite our intention to reach compromises and maintain peace and stability, we are very far from making any agreement on the issue of Kosovo," he also said.

Meanwhile in Geneva, Kosovar President Hashim Thaci said there was a small chance of a border deal with Serbia emerging soon, and he warned that a failure to seize the opportunity to reach a "historic agreement" could lead to another decade of "frozen conflict."

Putin and Vucic were expected to discuss ways to further develop bilateral relations, as well as tensions in the Balkans, the Kremlin has said.

Vucic has said he intended to ask for support from the Russian president on "the situation in Kosovo."

Speaking to TASS after two hours of talks with Putin, Vucic expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting.

"We got everything that we looked for. We agreed on everything," he said, without providing any details.

Vucic was last met Putin in May in Moscow, where he attended celebrations marking the anniversary of Germany's defeat in World War II.

Long a nationalist, he has remade himself as a pro-European Union reformer while seeking to maintain good relations with traditional ally Russia as well.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Balkan Service, TASS, Beta, and AFP
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