Serbian army honor guard line-up in front of a red carpet set for a welcome ceremony for visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko outside the Serbia Palace in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, July 3, 2018. Poroshenko is on a one-day official visit to Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Ukraine seeks to boost ties with Russian ally Serbia

July 03, 2018 - 7:34 am

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Ukraine is seeking to boost ties with Serbia, a Balkan country that is a key Russian ally in Europe but which also wants to join the European Union.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met Tuesday with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, the Serbian capital. The two signed bilateral deals and predicted better ties in the future.

Serbia has not joined Western sanctions that have been imposed against Russia over its 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Serbian volunteers have also fought alongside pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

But both Poroshenko and Vucic say their countries respect each other's territorial integrity and want to cooperate in efforts at EU membership.

Serbia has a territorial dispute of its own. Belgrade has refused to recognize the 2008 declaration of independence by its former province of Kosovo.

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