US backs Montenegro’s bid to join NATO

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday threw US support behind Montenegro’s bid to join NATO as the Balkan country pursues political reforms. The chief US diplomat “pledged the United States’ support for Montenegro becoming an integral part of the Euro-Atlantic community” as she stood next to visiting Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

“I offered the support of the United States as Montenegro makes some of the reforms in the rule of law area that both NATO and the European Union are looking to see,” Clinton told reporters in Washington.

She congratulated Montenegro for its admission last month to NATO’s Membership Action Plan, a precursor to full membership, and thanked the premier for his government’s commitment to sending infantry troops to the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

Clinton said she hoped to take the prime minister up on his invitation to visit Montenegro at a future date.

Djukanovic said: “I would like to announce with confidence that Montenegro will be the next state to become a new member of NATO” while voicing his government’s intention to enhance the rule of law.

“We stand committed to doing this in order to improve the quality of life of our citizens and achieve our European and Euro-Atlantic goals … as early, as soon as possible,” he said through an interpreter.

“I would like to reiterate on this occasion too that Montenegro is and will remain a responsible and reliable partner to the US and EU in dealing with the still outstanding issues in the Balkans,” he said.

“And we will also work closely with our partners in other places beyond our region, starting with Afghanistan,” he added.

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