Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has written to the leaders of the U.S. Senate urging the ratification of Montenegro as the newest member of the NATO alliance , saying it is “strongly in the interests of the United States.”
In a letter dated March 7 and seen by Reuters on Tuesday, Tillerson argued that Montenegro’s membership in the alliance would support greater integration, democratic reform, trade, security and stability among its neighbors.
Moscow opposes any further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the delay in U.S. approval of Montenegro’s accession has fueled questions about whether President Donald Trump’s administration and his Republican Party will stand up to Russia despite Trump’s desire for better relations….
Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic with a population of 650,000, hopes to win the required approval of all 28 NATO allies in time to become a full member at a summit in May. By early this month, it had been approved by 24. NATO members see Montenegro’s accession as a way to counter Russia’s efforts to expand its influence in the Balkans….
In his letter to the Senate’s Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and copied to Chuck Schumer, the chamber’s top Democrat, Tillerson said it would be “immeasurably helpful” if the Senate scheduled a floor vote to complete ratification procedures in time for Trump’s participation in the May NATO summit.
“Montenegro’s participation in the May NATO Summit as full member, not as an observer, will send a strong signal of transatlantic unity,” Tillerson added.
“It is strongly in the interests of the United States that Montenegro’s membership in NATO be ratified,” he wrote.