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Clinton praises Serbia's progress, new leaders

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) shakes hands with Serbia's President Boris Tadic after their joint statement following their meeting in Belgrade October 12, 2010. (Reuters/Ivan Milutinovic)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) shakes hands with Serbia's President Boris Tadic after their joint statement following their meeting in Belgrade October 12, 2010. (Reuters/Ivan Milutinovic)

Clinton praised those talks and hailed Tadic for his commitment to human rights - particularly his government's protection of a gay-rights parade in Belgrade last weekend that drew thousands of far-right protesters, some armed with bricks, bottles and stun grenades.

Clinton traveled to Serbia from the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia, which was devastated by an ethnic war in the mid-1990s that claimed about 100,000 lives. That conflict ended with peace accords negotiated by President Bill Clinton's administration.

In recent years, Bosnia has stagnated, with its political system fractured along ethnic and religious lines.

Clinton met with Bosnia's politicians but also reached out to students and civil society groups in a town-hall meeting. She urged them to become more active in overcoming the country's divisions.

"You have to do it, yes, on the leader level, but it also has to happen at what we call the grass-roots level," Clinton told the crowd.

While some students said they were inspired by her words, there was also some skepticism. One student recalled his hopes that Biden's visit last year would translate into political change.

"When I saw Mr. Biden last time, when he was here, we had huge expectations," the student told Clinton. "But when he left, unfortunately, nothing has happened."


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