French President Jacques Chirac has offered his support for Croatia's aspirations for European Union membership.

Mr. Chirac told visiting Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sander that the schedule for membership talks should be respected.

Croatia's EU membership negotiations began in October after an eight-month delay due to the country's failure to capture a top suspect wanted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal.

Mr. Chirac says Croatia's rapid economic development and progress in reforms justified the start of the country's membership negotiations with the bloc.

Some information for this story provided by AP.