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MOSCOW, September 6 (Itar-Tass) — Serbia is going to send an official request to Russia soon for getting a loan of $ 1 billion, Dmitry Klokov, a senior official at the Russian Ministry of Energy said Thursday on the results of a meeting between Serbia's Minister of Natural Resources, Milan Bacevic, and Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak.
"A protocol was signed upon the outcome of the ministerial talks and it says Serbia has asked Russia for a loan in the amount of $ 1 billion to support the budget of the Serbian Republic," Klokov said.
"The Russian side said in response the request could be considered in case of an official appeal and the specific parameters of the loan could be discussed in the framework of the Russian-Serbian workgroup for cooperation in finance and investment," he said.
It is believed that Russia may issue $ 300 million to Serbia this year and another $ 700 million next year.
Experts also say the issuance of the loan will be bound to a number of bilateral agreements that will be drafted by a special workgroup consisting of Russian and Serbian officials.
The protocol that was signed Thursday contains Serbia's proposal to sell a steel smelting factory in the town of Smederevo to Russia for a notional sum of one U.S. dollar.
As Itar-Tass reported earlier, Serbia does not have any deposits of coking coal or iron ore on its territory and this obviously means that Belgrade can search for strategic partners for the plant only among foreign companies.
Beside Russia, the Serbian government is eyeing the opportunities offered by Ukrainian, Chinese and Indian corporations.
The Smederevo steel smelting factory suspended its operations as of July through to September 1 of the year.
At the beginning of the year, U.S. Steel Corporation, the former owner of the loss-making plant sold it to the Serbian government for the notional sum of one U.S. dollar.
The authorities are doing an intense search for a potential partner who might rehabilitate the factory's operations.