Russia's top security official wants closer ties with Serbia

Russia's top security official is urging closer cooperation with Serbia as part of increased efforts by Moscow to boost its influence in the Balkan country that is seeking EU membership.

Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of President Vladimir Putin's Security Council, on Wednesday urged Serbia to sign a "memorandum of understanding" on security next year. He says "we have such documents with partners of utmost trust."

Serbia's Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic says "there is room for improvement" in security ties.

Patrushev, believed to be one of President Vladimir Putin's most influential allies, will also meet Serbia's foreign minister and president later Wednesday.

Serbia remains a rare Russian ally in Europe. Belgrade wants to join the EU, but has refused to impose West-backed sanctions on Russia.