BELGRADE – US Vice President Joseph Biden said Tuesday Serbia was the political and economic keystone in the region.

At a press conference with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, Biden said a united and peaceful Western Balkan region was crucial for all of Europe.

Biden said he and US President Barack Obama appreciated the leadership demonstrated by Vucic on many occasions, in particular in the relations with Croatia.

I commended the prime minister’s efforts towards broader reconciliation in the region – the visit to Srebrenica and the signing of the declaration with Croatia, Biden said.

Serbia must be a part of a democratic Europe, he said.

Some moments in our common history were very painful, Biden said, adding that he was pleased a new chapter had been opened in Serbia-US relations.

He extended his condolences “to the families of those whose lives were lost during the wars of the 90s, including as a result of the NATO air campaign.”

Biden said he discussed with Vucic ways to improve the partnership between the two countries and the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in Brussels.

In the US, there is interest in direct investments in Serbia, he also said.