World Bulletin / News Desk
The White House ratcheted up its criticism of Russia on Wednesday, pointedly saying it had seen credible reports that Moscow backed an election-day attack in Montenegro last year.
A senior administration official -- speaking as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Moscow for difficult talks on Syria -- pointed the finger of blame at Russia for an alleged coup attempt during October's election.
"We are very concerned about Russian interference in the October elections in Montenegro," the official said, "including credible reports of Russian support for an attempted election-day attack on the government."
A special prosecutor in Montenegro has accused Russian state bodies and the pro-Russian Democratic Front (DF) party of trying to overthrow the government, in an effort to prevent Montenegro from entering NATO.
Andrija Mandic, who is one of DF's two leaders and is among 25 people accused by the prosecutor, told AFP in March that the case was "a staged political process" to discredit him and his party. Mandic is a fierce opponent of his country's looming NATO accession.
A dozen of the accused were sentenced to several months' imprisonment after reaching a deal with the prosecutor.
Prominent Montenegrin lawyer Branislav Lutovac, who said the case was "full of contradictions," told AFP last month that these were "light sentences for serious crimes".
Wednesday's US comments came a day after President Donald Trump approved Montenegro's NATO accession and prepared to meet the alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House later in the day.
Despite initial hopes in Moscow of better ties with Washington under Trump, the US new president has tempered his praise of Putin, most recently condemning his support for Syria's Bashar al-Assad.
Trump's harder line comes amid growing questions about whether his aides and associates colluded with alleged Russian meddling in the US election. That line of inquiry has focused on Trump allies Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.
Contested by a significant part of the predominantly Orthodox Slav population of Montenegro, the choice of former prime minister Milo Djukanovic to integrate it into NATO triggered protests in 2015 that turned violent.
Many fear that the demonstrations could resume when the parliament meets soon to ratify the accession.
In a bruising contest against pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron, Le Pen is hoping to broaden her base wide enough to win the decisive second-round election, despite polls suggesting she is 20 points behind.
The 27 leaders quickly agreed on the negotiating guidelines as they met without Britain for the first time since Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the divorce process a month ago.
Abe met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, assuring her that he "continued to trust the UK economy after separation from the European Union," he told a press conference in London on Saturday.
Orban was summoned to a meeting with top officials from the European People's Party (EPP) over the law that could force the closure of a Budapest university founded by US billionaire George Soros.
"There will inevitably be a price and a cost for Britain, it's the choice they made," Hollande said as he arrived at a Brussels summit.
Turkish General Staff says more than 90 terrorists also injured in operations in northern Iraq, northeastern Syria
Opponents started rallying on April 1 against moves to strengthen his hold on power, hoping they would be a tipping point in the economic and political crisis.
"We need to remain united as the EU 27. It is only then that we will be able to conclude the negotiations, which means that our unity is also in the UK's interest," Tusk told reporters.
Since Jammeh's fall, dozens of migrants who had left to go to Europe via Libya have started coming back
Facebook and Google confirm they were victims of Lithuanian man’s years-long swindle
105,000 get between $5,100-$8,000 in emissions scandal
Two men accused of trying to establish cell of Somalia-based terror group in Ethiopia
Order comes as part of Trump's efforts to fulfill his promise to 'unleash American energy'
Federica Mogherini has said that the EU has left the door ajar for Turkey membership
Cuba has restarted their news agency in the US capital