Europe

China, Serbia sign over 20 agreements, pledge to boost ties

  • Xi Jinping, China's President, center, applauds during a ceremony in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, June 18, 2016. Xi arrived in Serbia for a visit meant to boost relations with the friendly nation and assert China's intention to increase its presence in the Balkans and Europe. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

    Xi Jinping, China's President, center, applauds during a ceremony in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, June 18, 2016. Xi arrived in Serbia for a visit meant to boost relations with the friendly nation and assert China's intention to increase its presence in the Balkans and Europe. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and his Serbian counterpart, Tomislav Nikolic, shake hands at the start of their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, June 18, 2016. Xi arrived in Serbia for a visit meant to boost relations with the friendly nation and assert China's intention to increase its presence in the Balkans and Europe. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

    Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and his Serbian counterpart, Tomislav Nikolic, shake hands at the start of their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, June 18, 2016. Xi arrived in Serbia for a visit meant to boost relations with the friendly nation and assert China's intention to increase its presence in the Balkans and Europe. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)  (The Associated Press)

  • Xi Jinping, China's President, left, is congratulated by his Serbian counterpart, Tomislav Nikolic, after being presented with a state medal in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, June 18, 2016. Xi arrived in Serbia for a visit meant to boost relations with the friendly nation and assert China's intention to increase its presence in the Balkans and Europe. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

    Xi Jinping, China's President, left, is congratulated by his Serbian counterpart, Tomislav Nikolic, after being presented with a state medal in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, June 18, 2016. Xi arrived in Serbia for a visit meant to boost relations with the friendly nation and assert China's intention to increase its presence in the Balkans and Europe. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)  (The Associated Press)

President Xi Jinping says China wants to deepen its relations with Serbia as the two countries signed a series of agreements, reflecting the Asian power's efforts to boost its presence in the Balkans.

Xi on Saturday signed a declaration on strategic partnership with Serbia's President Tomislav Nikolic. He also oversaw the signing of 21 agreements and memorandums ranging from economy, infrastructure, energy and finance to defense industry, technology, culture and media.

Xi said "the development of our relations is based on big projects." He added that Serbia holds an important position in China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative — a sweeping plan to deepen trade relations and open new markets.

Xi also said China supports Serbia's bid to join the European Union.