Biden in Serbia: Offers condolences; met by Trump supporters

Vice President Joseph Biden speaks during the White House Summit on the United State Of Women June 14, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Story highlights

  • Vice President Joe Biden brought a message of reconciliation to Belgrade
  • But pro-Donald Trump protesters in the Serbian capital interrupted his visit

(CNN)Vice President Joe Biden took a major step in repairing relations between the United States and Serbia on Tuesday, expressing condolences for civilian victims of a US-led NATO air campaign there in the 1990s.

But the scars of the bombing were still evident in the capital Belgrade, as right-wing nationalists marched in support of Donald Trump, claiming the Republican presidential nominee would move the US away from an interventionist foreign policy.
Many Serbians still resent the NATO bombings, which were meant to end the widespread killing of ethnic Albanians in 1999. President Bill Clinton -- the husband of Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton -- was commander in chief at the time of the military campaign.
    "There's a long history between our two countries, the United States and Serbia, not all of it good. Some of it painful," Biden said Tuesday during a news availability with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade. "But I'm proud the United States and Serbia have started a new chapter in our relationship, grounded on the shared ideas of mutual respect."
    Biden said "the scars of the wars of the 1990s are still raw" and "the memories of lost loved ones are still fresh."
    "I'd like to add my condolences to the families of those whose lives were lost during the wars of the nineties, including as a result of the NATO air campaign, in terms of responsibility," he said.
    During his trip, Biden was working to convince Serbia to accept its former province Kosovo, which it does not formally recognize as a sovereign state. Biden visits Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday.
    In another section of Belgrade Tuesday, right-wing marchers associated with the Serbian Radical Party marched in protest of Biden's visit, advocating for Trump with signs and pictures of the Republican candidate's face.
    "Trump is the alternative to globalization," a leader of the group, Vojislav Seselj, told the Reuters news agency. "He will destroy old centers of power in the United States and he's a supporter of Russia, because he wants an agreement with Russia. These are the reasons the radicals are supporting Trump."
    Video shot by Reuters shows dozens of protesters in white shirts bearing the words "Vote Trump" chanting the candidate's name in accented English.
    In a speech Monday, Biden railed against Trump, declaring the self-described billionaire dangerous.