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Croatian PM meets Czech counterpart during visit to Prague - extended

PRAGUE, Feb 12 (Hina) - Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader met his Czech counterpart Mirek Topolanek during an official visit to Prague on Tuesday.

"This is my first official visit abroad after the formation of the new government in Croatia and certainly yet another proof of the friendship between Croatia and the Czech Republic," Sanader told reporters after the meeting.

Sanader informed his host about the efforts Croatia was making to obtain an invitation from NATO to join the alliance.

On the subject of EU membership, the Croatian PM said: "We have an ambitious goal, but we think it can become a reality if we complete (accession) negotiations early next year, during the Czech presidency of the European Union."

"Mr Topolanek proposed that the Czech Republic help Croatia achieve this goal and I fully accepted his proposal," he added, thanking Prague for its assistance to Croatia on its road towards the Union.

I'm sure the results Croatia achieves this year will be crucial for it to become a member of the common European family, Topolanek said.

The two premiers also agreed on the engagement of Czech police officers on the Croatian Adriatic coast this summer, when a significant number of Czech tourists are expected to arrive.

Details of their engagement will be arranged by the interior ministries of the two countries.

Commenting on the situation in the region, Topolanek and Sanader conveyed almost identical positions on Kosovo.

We are agreed that we can understand both Serbia's position and Kosovo's position, Topolanek said.

He explained that in case of the independence of that UN-administered breakaway province, the Czech Republic would join the majority in the EU, and that the best solution would be an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina.

PM Sanader and a Croatian delegation consisting of a few minsters were later received by Czech President Vaclav Klaus.

The Czech officials reiterated their country's backing to Croatia's EU and NATO membership bids.