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MOSCOW, May 14. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov travels to Serbia on Friday to meet President Tomislav Nicolic, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, and First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
The gathering "will make it possible to thoroughly compare notes on main bilateral and international issues, assess progress in implementing agreements reached earlier and outline plans for further development of relations," a ministry statement said.
Russian and Serbian officials are also expected to discuss cooperation within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), reflecting Belgrade’s chairmanship of the assembly this year, it added.
Lavrov will hold talks with Dacic, current OSCE chairman, to review developments in Ukraine, the "Helsinki +40 Process" review of progress made since signing of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act on security and co-operation in Europe, and work of the so-called Group of Wise Men discussing European security issues.
"Russia's side is ready to act further as a mediator in the Contact Group on Ukraine and to provide support to the OSCE special monitoring mission to that country," the ministry said.
During the meeting, the foreign ministers are also due to raise the regular OSCE issues of promoting integration processes, the fight against terrorism and illicit drug trafficking, and electoral monitoring.
"It would be useful and well-timed to convene a representative conference to combat Christianophobia as a follow-up to a series of meetings which took place in 2014 on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia," the ministry said.
"Additional efforts by the OSCE are needed to bring stability in the Balkans, particularly in view of the deteriorating situation in Macedonia," it said.
Russian diplomats also highlighted progress in economic co-operation with Serbia. According to Russian customs data, trade turnover between the two countries reached $2.1 billion last year, up more than 7.6% on 2013.
Russian exports to Serbia increased by 19.4%, worth $1 billion, while imports fell 1.4% to $1.1 billion, the ministry said. But the country has significantly increased supplies of agricultural products to the Russian market after Moscow introduced its ban on food imports from the West, the statement said.
Belgrade had shown a full understanding of Moscow’s decision to discontinue the South Stream gas pipeline project, where implementation became impossible because of the European Union’s unconstructive actions, it added.
"We are convinced that energy interaction with Belgrade will successfully continue, both in terms of Russian gas supplies to Serbia via the existing route and relating to an initiative to create a huge gas hub at the Turkish-Greek border for further distribution to southeast European countries," the ministry said.