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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.
The letter emerged amid a flap over the new secretary of state’s relationship with the alliance.
Reuters reported on Monday that Tillerson planned to skip a meeting with NATO foreign ministers next month in order to stay home for a visit by China’s president, while planning a visit to Russia later in April.
On Tuesday, the administration reversed course and proposed new dates for the meeting, which had been set for April 5 and 6 in Brussels.
Objections from at least two Republican senators, Rand Paul and Mike Lee, have blocked a quick vote in the full U.S. Senate for months and Senate leaders have not scheduled a more time-consuming roll-call vote.
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.
Source: Radio Television Montenegro