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Serbia, Russia agree to establish joint humanitarian center

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BELGRADE, Oct 21, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Serbia and Russia agreed here on Wednesday to establish a joint humanitarian center in the southern Serbian city of Nis for immediate response to emergencies such as fire, floods and earthquakes.

Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Ivica Dacic and Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu signed a plan on the center's initial stage of development.

Later, the two leaders told a joint press conference that the center should serve the entire region and offer quick and efficient support in case of emergency to other countries in southeastern Europe.

The center was planned to be a well-equipped logistic base and Nis was chosen for its airport and infrastructure, Dacic said, adding that the center would have all necessary capacities to tackle emergency and natural hazards that often hit the region.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Serbia on Tuesday opened new possibilities to fortify bilateral overall cooperation and served to prove their satisfactory political and interstate relations, Dacic said.

The center, comprising a joint anti-mining center, would be formed before 2012, Shoigu said.

A conference would be held in Belgrade next February on the formation of the center. Besides Serbian and Russian representatives, officials from Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia and Montenegro would also attend the conference, he said.

Russian forces helped these countries with emergencies, such as putting out fires, almost every year, so the opening of the center would facilitate their rescue and relief efforts, Shoigu said.

Signing the plan was a serious step toward implementing the agreement on cooperation in humanitarian response to emergency situations, natural disasters and technological accidents, which was signed on Tuesday during Medvedev's visit in Belgrade, he added.

Copyright (c) 2009 Comtex News Network
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 10/21/2009 09:05:33