US, Serb military chiefs to cooperate despite Kosovo split

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BELGRADE (AFP) ā€” US and Serbian military chiefs agreed Monday on the need to build military cooperation between the two countries and work for regional stability despite deep differences over Kosovo’s independence.

US Admiral Michael Mullen, the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to visit Belgrade since General Omar Bradley in 1951, sought to press Serbs to continue support for an European Union mission that is providing police and judges to Kosovo, US officials said.

Mullen said he had a frank discussion with Serbia’s military chief, General Zdravko Ponos, “about where we stand with respect to the country of Kosovo.”

“And yet on the military side there is much work we are doing and can do to ensure we have a safe and stable region,” Mullen said at a news conference following the meeting.

The United States was the first of 45 countries to recognize Kosovo after the province unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February. It ignited a furious reaction in Belgrade where protesters set fire to part of the US embassy compound.

NATO fought a short but bloody war in 1999 to stop Serb attacks on Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian population, giving Serbia the distinction of being the only European country to be bombed by NATO, still a source of resentment here.

When Mullen touted the lessons learned by the US military in more than six years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a reporter asked what lesson it had learned from bombing Serbia.

Read the entire AFP article

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