(dpa) - Croatia has
accepted NATO's invitation to start talks on joining the military alliance, the
government said Tuesday.
Leaders of NATO nations offered to open the door to Croatia and Albania two weeks ago. US President George W Bush visited Zagreb after the NATO summit to underline his support for Croatia's bid.
In a letter to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic said Croatia accepts the invitation to start membership talks.
Jandrokovic said NATO membership is a priority of Croatia's foreign policy, the Foreign Ministry said.
He is convinced that the negotiations "will confirm the readiness and ability of Croatia to take political and military responsibility in line with the NATO treaty," the letter said.
Croatia and Albania are expected to join NATO in 2009. Croatia, once part of Yugoslavia, also is the European Union's top candidate nation, hoping to close membership talks next year and join the bloc in 2010.