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Croatian Premier On Landmark Visit To Belgrade

15 November 2004 -- A Croatian prime minister is visiting Serbia and Montenegro for the first time since the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The visit by Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader today is seen as an important step towards normalizing ties between the neighboring countries.

During his one-day stay, Sanader is to meet Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, President Svetozar Marovic, and other officials.

The two sides are to sign an agreement on the protection of minorities. They will also discuss unsettled issues, including the fate of people still missing since the 1991-95 war, and the return of ethnic Serbs who fled Croatia during the conflict.

Kostunica has characterised the visit of a Croatian prime minister to Belgrade as being of "extreme importance".

In 2003, Croatian President Stipe Mesic and Marovic jointly apologized for "all the evils" committed by their countries during the 1991-95 war.