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Croatian PM receives Canadian foreign minister

ZAGREB, May 20 (Hina) - Croatian Parliament Speaker Ivo Sanader on Tuesday received Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier and thanked him on Canada's support to Croatia's NATO membership invitation.

Sanader expressed hope Canada would be one of the first NATO countries to ratify the protocol on Croatia's admission, the Croatian government's public relations office said in a statement.

Sanader informed Minister Bernier of Croatia's EU entry talks and Croatia's activities in the region.

The talks also focused on facilitating the visa regime. Sanader and Bernier agreed this was an important step towards the strengthening of not only political but also economic relations between Croatia and Canada.

Minister Bernier said he was honoured to be the first Canadian foreign affairs minister to visit Croatia and voiced his satisfaction with the fact that Croatia and Canada were two friendly countries that are jointly participating in international forums and peace missions. Bernier underlined the participation in the peace mission in Afghanistan.

Relations with Croatia are very important to Canada, notably when one takes into account the fact that Croatia. which is a regional leader without a doubt, will soon join the EU and NATO, the statement said.

The Canadian Embassy said in a statement that Minister Bernier today wrapped up his official visit to Croatia.

Croatia's anticipated membership of NATO and its constant participation in missions in Afghanistan are two crucial topics of the Croatian-Canadian partnership, Bernier said. Canada is exceptionally pleased with the fact that Croatia received a NATO invitation at a recent summit in Bucharest, he added.

Earlier today, Bernier held talks talks with Croatian President Stjepan Mesic. Mesic and Bernier also talked about the Croatia Airlines decision to purchase Bombardier aircraft.