Serbia is "firmly committed to full membership in the EU, but also wants to strengthen friendships forged during the time of the Non-Aligned (Movement)."
President Tomislav Nikolic said this on Thursday in Belgrade during his meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea Osman Saleh.
Nikolic also said that Serbia especially appreciates the African country's principled stance not to recognize Kosovo, and its decision to vote against Kosovo's UNESCO bid.
As noted in a statement, carried by Beta, Nikolic expressed his gratitude and friendship by decorating Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki.
He noted that bilateral relations have great potential for cooperation, especially in agriculture, mining, information technology, education and tourism.
Osman Saleh said that his official visit to Serbia represents an opportunity to enhance cooperation between the two countries, in order to strengthen overall relations.
"Eritrea highly appreciates Serbia's contribution to improving international relations and its constructive role in achieving peace and stability. Serbia has shown how to respect the principles of international law, and solve problems through dialogue. Our two countries are ready to develop mutual cooperation in trade, agriculture, services, political and economic relations," said Saleh.
The two officials agreed that cooperation should be made concrete as soon as possible, with the signing of international agreements, especially in the field of education, the statement said.
While in Belgrade, Osman Saleh was also received by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic , when they discussed "possibilities for improving bilateral relations and establishment of economic cooperation."
According to a statement, Vucic said that Serbia "highly appreciates the consistent position of the State of Eritrea not to recognize the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo, which especially came to the fore when Eritrea opposed the admission of the so-called Kosovo into UNESCO."
The visit of the foreign minister of Eritrea to Serbia is the first visit by a senior official of that country since the establishment of diplomatic relations less than five years ago, the government said on its website.
Saleh said that the visit will bring "concrete results in the development of political and economic cooperation."
Vucic and the guest from Eritrea reached an agreement to sign agreements on economic cooperation, especially in agriculture and tourism, but also in mining, manufacturing, information technologies and other promising fields, the statement said, and also "agreed that such cooperation would help the activities of the Eritrean government to stabilize the economic situation in the country and ensure economic progress of the State of Eritrea."
On Wednesday, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic met with Saleh, when he said that Serbia and Eritrea have "great prospects for cooperation despite its current modest level."
Speaking at a joint press conference, Dacic stated that trade between the two countries stood at only EUR 12,000 last year.
He pointed out that there are many areas suitable for cooperation, from agriculture, manufacturing, mining, IT and medicine, to military industry and engineering.
Dacic said that Eritrea's minister told him that students from that country would like to study in Serbia, and stressed that the two countries have no open issues, but that cooperation is underdeveloped.
Dacic said that the policy of the government of Serbia is to renew its old traditional friendships with the peoples of Africa and Asia, and expressed gratitude to Saleh for having accepted his invitation to visit Serbia.
He pointed out that Eritrea not only did not recognize the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo, but it also voted against Kosovo's admission to UNESCO.
Saleh pointed out that his two-day visit to Serbia represents an opportunity for further development of bilateral relations, in order to strengthen cooperation and overall relations.