Dutch FM to visit Serbia to discuss EU ties

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Dutch foreign minister will visit Belgrade next month to discuss Serbia's relations with the Netherlands and the EU.

The Hague -- Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen will visit Serbia next month for trade talks while maintaining the Netherlands' veto of an EU trade and aid pact with Belgrade, his office said on Friday last week.

"I am going to Belgrade to talk about further cooperation with Serbia in the economic and other areas," Verhagen was quoted as saying, ahead of his July 21 visit.

He would discuss Serbia's relations with the Netherlands and the European Union with his counterpart Vuk Jeremic, said a statement.

The Netherlands is vetoing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) signed by Serbia in April, seen as the first step towards membership of the 27-nation bloc.

It insists on Serbia's full cooperation with the UN's Yugoslav war crimes tribunal (ICTY) and the arrest of ex-Serbian military leader and genocide suspect Ratko Mladic, 66, for the SAA to enter into force.

"As long as Serbia does not cooperate fully with the tribunal, the SAA cannot be ratified. The Netherlands stands by this," said the statement.

Verhagen said the most recent report of ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz to the UN Security Council made it clear that while the situation has improved, "there is no full cooperation yet."

AFP / Expatica

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