NATO's top general visits candidate member MacedoniaAugust 9, 2018 8:03pm

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — NATO's top military officer is visiting Macedonia, which hopes to join the alliance once a landmark deal with neighboring Greece to rename itself North Macedonia has been fully implemented.

U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO's supreme commander in Europe, congratulated Macedonia's leaders Thursday in the capital of Skopje for the country's "significant progress" in military reforms. He also offered "practical support" to the Macedonian army in the NATO accession process.

NATO leaders formally invited Macedonia last month to begin accession talks, following the preliminary agreement with Greece over the former Yugoslav republic's name.

Macedonians will vote on the name deal in a Sept. 30 referendum. The country's parliament then has to amend the constitution to change the name, after which the deal must be ratified by Greece.

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This version corrects the reference to army in second paragraph to Macedonian, not Montenegrin.

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