Vucic and Trump to meet by the year end

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic “should meet with US President Donald Trump” by the end of the year, writes the Belgrade-based daily Blic.

According to the newspaper – which cited “a source from diplomatic circles in Washington” – Vucic will first meet with US Vice President Mike Pence in New York in September.

Blic said that this meeting, which “should take place around September 20” will effectively represent “an introduction to the meeting with Trump.” 

Vucic and Pence should meet on the margins of the UN General Assembly and discuss the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, but also the overall situation in the region, said the daily, adding that there has not yet been any official confirmation that the meeting will actually happen. 

“As things stand now, Pence is coming to New York and there is a great chance of him meeting with the president of Serbia. If they domeet, they will agree on all the details of the Vucic-Trump meeting,” according to Blic. 

The continuation of the Kosovo dialogue in Brussels awaits Vucic in late August or early September, the newspaper adds.

These meetings “should lead to significant progress when it comes to resolving the Kosovo problem, but also to resolving the overall Balkan crisis.” 

In other news, Bloomberg writes that the Trump administration will try to drastically cut financial aid that the US is giving to Eastern European countries.

Despite Vice President Mike Pence touring the ex-communist region to affirm backing against the “specter” of Russian aggression, the White House is seeking sweeping funding cuts for its allies. Reductions in the State Department budget would lower funding for Europe and Eurasia by $336 million, as well as other programs covering support for democracy and development assistance.

Alongside the State Department cuts, the White House is urging an increase in spending at the Department of Defense, some of which is earmarked for eastern Europe. It’s unclear how much: while $1.4 billion more is headed to the European Reassurance Initiative, details currently available don’t give a breakdown by country.

Even if eastern Europe does receive more from the defense budget, the spending changes signal the U.S. is retreating from efforts to firm up democracy in the region, according to Jonathan Katz, a resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund and a former U.S. Agency for International Development official.

“Previous administrations have sought to balance defense, diplomacy and development,” he said by phone. “What this administration is proposing to do is out of balance.”

(B92, Bloomberg 17.08.2017)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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