BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro – Four years after opposing U.S.-led forces, Serbia-Montenegro (search) will likely send troops to Afghanistan (search) to assist the American military, the defense minister said Friday.
A joint military-police delegation of Serbia-Montenegro last month visited U.S. military officials in Washington and at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. for talks on their possible participation in foreign combat operations under U.S. command.
"Three destinations were under consideration, Liberia (search), Iraq and Afghanistan," Serbia and Montenegro Defense Minister Boris Tadic said. "Afghanistan is the most likely possibility."
"The talks in the U.S. were over technical matters," Tadic said, adding that the final go-ahead for the mission will have to be made by parliament.
The offer to send the Serb-led troops on combat missions first came from Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic this summer when he visited Washington. U.S. officials, struggling to collect enough foreign fighters for their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, were quick to accept.
The last time the Serb troops saw combat was during the 78-day U.S.-led NATO airstrikes in Serbia in 1999 that stopped former President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown against independence-minded ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Since Milosevic's ouster in 2000, the new pro-democracy government has mended its ties with the United States and now considers Washington its main ally.