US Vice-President Joseph Biden arrived in Belgrade at 10am local time, on the second leg of his three-day Balkan tour.
Biden arrived in Air Force 2, escorted by a squadron of Serbian Army MIG fighters, the BETA news agency reported.
He was met off the plane by Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, and Minister of the Interior Ivica Dacic. Biden’s delegation includes US Assistant Secretary of State Phil Gordon and representatives from the State Department, the National Security Council and the Defense Ministry.
Biden’s schedule includes meeting with President Boris Tadic, Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic and Defense Minister, Dragan Sutanovac. After the meeting, Biden and Tadic will hold a joint press conference.
Biden will also lay a wreath at the memorial plaque to the late Prime Minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic. This evening he will attend a dinner to be held in his honour at government head quarters, organised by the Serbian president’s cabinet.
Security at the government building is at maximum levels, where both domestic and foreign news agencies have collected awaiting Biden’s arrival.
Reports estimate at least 135 accredited domestic and foreign journalists and correspondents will be preseent to report on Biden and Tadic’s meeting.
Media say Belgrade will be in a state of quasi emergency during Biden’s visit, given all the necessary security precautions that will close off many traffic routes.
As in Sarajevo, media expect Biden to use his Belgrade visit to reinforce the message that the US remains committed to the region’s security, and to also put pressure on Belgrade to in turn exert its pressure on the Bosnian Serbs – in an attempt to cool their separatist rhetoric. Click here to see the full text of his speech in Sarajevo.
The vice-president will finish off his Balkan tour by heading to Pristina tomorrow.