- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia, the birthplace of America’s next first lady, plans to deploy troops to Latvia, joining NATO efforts to defend the Baltics against a possible Russian threat.

The Slovenian government said Thursday it will contribute up to 50 soldiers to a NATO battalion.

The government says that NATO’s enhanced forward presence in eastern Europe is “a responsible and proportionate measure” aimed at promoting peace.

It says the decision to build up NATO’s presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland was made at a 2016 summit in Warsaw.

The Balkans, where Slovenia is located, has been a focus of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to expand Moscow’s influence.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office after his inauguration on Friday, has branded NATO an “obsolete” organization. Melania Trump was born in Slovenia.

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