NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg attends a NATO Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Stavanger, Norway, Monday Oct. 12, 2015. (Carina Johansen / NTB scanpix via AP) NORWAY OUT
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NATO urged Montenegro Thursday to put into practice the reforms it has adopted to join the Western military alliance, with a decision due in December on whether to take in the tiny Adriatic republic over the objections of Russia.Membership for the mountainous country of 650,000 people would mark the first expansion of NATO ranks in ex-Communist eastern Europe since Montenegro's neighbors Albania and Croatia joined in 2009, and the first since Russia-Western tensions flared over Ukraine.Supporters of Montenegro's membership bid say it would send a message to Russia that it cannot halt NATO's expansion, though it is much less contentious step than the alliance's earlier overtures to the likes of former Soviet Georgia, whose own membership ambitions were quashed by a war with Russia in 2008 .
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