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Macron postpones visit to Serbia amid 'yellow vest' protests

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By Reuters
Macron postpones visit to Serbia amid 'yellow vest' protests
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron (centre) on a visit to the riot-battered neighbourhood around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, December 2, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo   -   Copyright  POOL New(Reuters)

BELGRADE/PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron decided on Monday to postpone his trip to Serbia for several weeks as he seeks a way out of the crisis prompted by nationwide anti-tax protests that erupted suddenly three weeks ago.

The demonstrations against high living costs, dubbed the “yellow vest” movement, led to widespread rioting in Paris at the weekend and are showing signs of damaging the French economy.

“President Macron has asked to postpone for several weeks his visit to Serbia due to the situation in his country,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters after a phone call with Macron.

Macron’s office later confirmed the trip would be postponed due to “the incidents that took place in the last protests.”

Macron was due to arrive in Serbia on Wednesday for a two-day visit to improve relations with Belgrade after a diplomatic faux-pas during the World War One commemorations in Paris last month caused consternation in the former Yugoslav republic.

Serbia was upset about the seating arrangement at the ceremony, as Serbia’s Vucic was placed outside the official stand by the Arc de Triomphe where leaders such as Donald Trump and Angela Merkel were sitting.

The French ambassador to Serbia expressed “deep regrets” about what it called a “misstep”.

(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac in Belgrade and Michel Rose in Paris; Editing by Mark Heinrich)