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Croatian To Apologize in Israel

April 16, 1998

JERUSALEM (AP) _ During his visit to Israel next month, the Croatian foreign minister is expected to apologize for the suffering of Jews in Croatia in World War II, an Israeli official said Thursday.

Foreign Minister Mate Granic is to pave the way for an eventual visit by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, who has been denounced by some Israeli officials as an anti-Semite.

Relations between the two countries were chilly for years following a book by Tudjman questioning how many Jews died in the Holocaust. An Israeli official said Thursday that Israel is interested in normalization and expanding trade.

Israel expects that when Granic tours the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem as part of his visit in May, he will apologize, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Croatia was a Nazi puppet state during World War II, and about 30,000 Jews were killed in the camps run by that regime.

Tudjman is often accused by rivals of cultivating the nationalism that harks back to those days.

Tudjman apologized to Jews in 1994 for their suffering in World War II Croatia. He changed references to the Holocaust in his book in its 1997 English-language edition, a move that paved the way for establishing diplomatic relations with Israel last September.

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