U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met Tuesday with Montenegro's prime minister and received the former Yugoslav Republic's support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism.
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic told Rumsfeld that Montenegro would consider sending troops to support U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Djukanovic called terrorism a global threat that Montenegro wants eliminated. He said his mountainous coastal republic wants to join the partnership for peace, NATO's program of cooperation with 23 non-NATO countries.
Montenegro in July declared independence from its loose federation with Serbia and Mr. Djukanovic's party was the winner in parliamentary elections earlier this month.
Rumsfeld is now in neighboring Albania where he is attending a meeting of defense ministers from eight Southeast Europe countries that want to join NATO. Albert Rakipi, chairman of Albania's Institute for International Studies, says all major political parties in Albania support NATO membership. "Being a NATO member would mean the country is definitely out of crisis and out of having [external] threats [to stability]. So first all, from the security point of view, NATO membership for Albania is crucially important," he said
A U.S. defense department spokesman says Rumsfeld will thank Albania for sending peacekeeping troops to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Albania, already a member of NATO's partnership for peace, hopes to receive an invitation to join the western defense alliance in 2008. It first signaled its intention to join NATO in 1992, only a year after communism collapsed in Albania.