New Delhi: Vice President Hamid Ansari Sunday left on a week-long visit to the Czech Republic and Croatia to expand India`s economic ties with the two east European countries and also sign several bilateral agreements on social security and health care.
Ansari will also seek support from the two countries for India`s claim for a place in the UN Security Council. Both countries have supported India`s permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and its bid for a non-permanent seat for the 2011-12 term.
Ansari is accompanied by Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot and four MPs, including former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin.
In Prague during his three-day visit, Ansari will meet Czech President Vaclav Klaus Monday and discuss ways to expand political, economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
With India competing for a rotating non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for 2011-12, for which elections will be held later this year, Ansari is set to discuss the UN reforms with Czech leaders.
Both Czech Republic and Croatia have supported India for both permanent and non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council, Vivek Katju, secretary (west) in the external affairs ministry, told reporters here ahead of the visit.
The two sides are likely to sign three agreements, including agreements on economic cooperation, social security and a protocol on amending Bilateral Investment and Protection Agreement, Katju said.
The signing of social security accord will be an important step as it will enable more Indian professionals and businessmen to go to that country and assure them financial security.
Ansari, a former diplomat, will deliver a lecture on "Some Aspects of Global Governance in the 21st Century" in Prague Monday afternoon.
Ansari will also meet the Indian community at a reception. The Czech Republic is home to some 100 Indian families, comprising mainly businessmen and professionals.
The vice president will leave for Croatia, once part of former Yugoslavia, June 9 for a three-day visit, the first by an Indian leader of his stature, to that country.
He will hold wide-ranging discussions with Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, including on expanding bilateral economic ties and the UN reforms. Agreements on health and medicine and a programme on cultural exchange are expected to be signed.
Croatia, which hopes to join the EU around 2012, suffered a major contraction of its economy last year. The country`s economy is expected to record a mild recovery from recession this year.