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NATO Chief 'Confident' U.S. Senate Will Ratify Montenegro Bid

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

BRUSSELS -- NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has dismissed concerns that the U.S. Senate may not ratify the NATO-accession agreement for Montenegro.

Speaking on January 26 alongside Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Stoltenberg said, "I am confident that the accession protocol will be ratified by the [U.S.] Senate."

Stoltenberg noted that the protocol has already been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He said "It has strong bipartisan support" so he expects Senate ratification.

Montenegro is primed to become the alliance's 29th member, but there have been concerns that President Donald Trump's administration might want to slow the process.

Trump has been critical of NATO while praising Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has voiced opposition to NATO membership for Montenegro.

Twenty-one of NATO's 28 members have ratified the accession protocol.

France was poised to become the 22nd during a Senate vote on January 26.

NATO officials have told RFE/RL that the ratification process is expected to be completed in the spring, with Montenegro joining the alliance shortly thereafter.

With reporting by RFE/RL correspondent Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels
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