The Indian Minister of State for External...
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The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Gen. V.K. Singh (Retd.) visited Croatia, 13-14 April, 2016. His visit was the first by an Asian leader after the assumption of charge of the new Croatian government in end- Jan 2016. This sent out a strong political message of India's commitment to deepen the bilateral relationship for mutual benfit.

Apart from detailed discussions with his counterpart, Dr Zdravka Busic in the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Minister Singh called on the Speaker of the unicameral Parliament Zeljko Reiner (second in hierarchy after the President), Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Miro Kovac, Minister of Defence Josip Buljevic and Minister of Economy Tomislav Panenic. The Indian Minister of State also interacted with a cross-section of other dignitaries, including two past Croatian Presidents (Stephen Mesic and Ivo Josipovic), MP representing the Roma community, President of the Croatian National Bank, local Directors of Indian companies that have invested in Croatia, media, academics, India-oriented organisations (Hindu Society, Art of Living, Indology Dept, Centre for Vedic Studies) as well as the Indian diaspora. Additionally, Minister Singh had the opportunity to lay wreaths on the monuments of Marshal Josip Tito (he was born in Croatia), and Franjo Tudjman, the first President of Independent Croatia after the 'Homeland War,' at their birth places, which sentiment was appreciated by the leadership. These occasions also provided an opportunity to interact with the local Mayors of these municipalities.

Discussions covered the whole gamut of bilateral, regional and global issues. At the bilateral level, there was recognition that India's significant multifaceted ties with former Yugoslavia have not been sustained for various factors. Both sides expressed determination to work towards intensification of the relationship, with particular focus on the economic, defence, education, and higher technology sectors, through creative mechanisms. The growing interest in Yoga, Ayurveda and Indian philosophy was noted, which could be leveraged for strengthening people-to-people contacts. At the regional level, discussions centered on the evolving geo-political situation in the two regions. At the global level, views were exchanged on terrorism, UN reforms and peace keeping.

The visit of the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Gen. V.K. Singh to Croatia is expected to provide real momemtum to the overall bilateral relationship for the mutual advantage of the peoples of the two countries.

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