20:56 GMT +319 November 2019
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    This April 2, 2009 file photo shows shadows cast on a wall decorated with the NATO logo and flags of NATO countries in Strasbourg, eastern France, before the start of the NATO summit which marked the organisation's 60th anniversary.

    US Senate Overwhelmingly Supports North Macedonia's Bid to Join NATO

    © AFP 2019 / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen
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    In February, the alliance signed a protocol on North Macedonia's accession to the military bloc which was ratified by 21 member states. US Envoy to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said in June that the Balkan country could become an alliance member as early as December. However, the talks on the issue were postponed.

    The US Senate has favoured North Macedonia's efforts to obtain membership in NATO in a vote that took place on Tuesday, the Hill reported.

    According to the report, 91 lawmakers cast their votes in support of the nation's accession to the alliance, with only two senators objecting to the proposal.

    Speaking after the vote, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch told reporters that the United States wants Europeans to be encouraged, even though "Russians would hate to see an increase in the size of NATO."

    Similarly, Foreign Relations Committee member Senator Chris Murphy has described the vote as Congress's commitment to "fight the Kremlin's efforts."

    Skopje has been trying to become a member of NATO for over a decade. However, talks on the matter were delayed by the dispute surrounding the country's name.

    The nation was renamed North Macedonia earlier this year, abandoning its previous name Macedonia, which paved the way for Skopje to attain NATO membership. The name dispute was a stumbling block for North Macedonia's bid to join NATO with Athens blocking their membership, and strongly objecting to North Macedonia's former name since Greece has an eponymous northern region.

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    Senate, membership, NATO, North Macedonia
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