PODGORICA, Montenegro (AFP) - United States Vice-President Mike Pence on Wednesday (Aug 2) accused Russian-backed agents of attempting to assassinate the prime minister of Montenegro during an alleged coup attempt last year.
The White House said back in April that it had seen "credible reports of Russian support for an attempted election-day attack on the government" in October.
But during a visit to the small Balkan country, which became Nato's newest member in June, Pence stepped up accusations over the suspected power grab targeting the government of then-prime minister Milo Djukanovic.
"Russia's intentions were laid bare over the past year when Moscow-backed agents sought to disrupt Montenegro's elections, attack your parliament and even attempt to assassinate your prime minister," Pence said at the Adriatic Charter Summit.
He said the attack aimed "to dissuade the Montenegrin people from entering our Nato alliance".
Montenegro officials and Djukanovic himself have previously said that the coup plotters aimed to assassinate him.
A group of Serbian nationals were arrested on the eve of the election over the alleged coup plot and 14 suspects are currently on trial in the Montenegrin capital, including two Russians in absentia.
Russia has denied any involvement.