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Serbian PM ready to pay respect to Srebrenica victims

Serbia's premier Aleksandar Vucic is ready to go to Srebrenica to honour the memory of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims killed by Bosnian Serbs

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Serbia's premier Aleksandar Vucic, moving to improve ties with Bosnia, said Friday that he was ready to go to Srebrenica to honour the memory of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims killed by Bosnian Serbs two decades ago.

"As the prime minister of the Serbian government I'm ready to bow and pay respect to innocent victims of Srebrenica" who died in July 1995 in the most gruesome chapter of Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, Vucic told reporters.

Nearly 8,000 Muslim boys and men were killed in Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb forces in just a few days after they captured the eastern town on July 11, 1995. It was the worst massacre to occur on European soil since World War II.

Vucic said he was extending a hand of reconciliation to Bosnian Muslims.

"We should live in peace ... if you want me and my offered hand I'm ready to come to Srebrenica on July 11" for a commemoration ceremony marking the massacre's 20th anniversary, he said.

Ties between Bosnia and Serbia have been fragile since the war during which Belgrade backed Bosnian Serb forces.

For years Serbian and Bosnian Serb politicians have denied the scale of the Srebrenica killings that were labelled genocide by two international tribunals.

Vucic said Belgrade "despised" those responsible for the massacre, which he described as "a terrible and terrifying crime", though he stopped short of using the word "genocide".

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said Wednesday he would ask Russia to use its veto to prevent the UN from adopting a resolution on the Srebrenica genocide which is being drafted by Britain.

Vucic said that Belgrade did not want to trivialise the Srebrenica killings but "could neither support nor vote against such a resolution."

In 2005, then Serbian president Boris Tadic attended ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the massacre, the first leader from his country to visit the site.

In 2010 the Serbian parliament in a historic move condemned the Srebrenica massacre, and three years later Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic personally apologised for the first time for the killings.

On Friday, Vucic pledged to continue the "fight against those who tarnished the honour of our people by committing a horrible crime in Srebrenica."

"We will continue to arrest and try them," he added.

Vucic's offer to attend July's commemoration follows the arrest earlier this month of a former Bosnian Muslim fighter in Switzerland on Serbian war crimes charges.

Serbia wants Naser Oric, commander of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, for wartime killings of Bosnian Serb civilians.

His arrest sparked outrage among Bosnian Muslim politicians and Nikolic then called off a visit to Bosnia due on Tuesday.

Bosnia's 1992-1995 war claimed some 100,000 lives.