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Dutch PM Rutte gains US and UK support, to become NATO chief

Dutch PM Rutte gains US and UK support, to become NATO chief

Dutch PM Rutte gains US and UK support, to become NATO chief

Dutch PM Rutte gains US and UK support, to become NATO chief

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  • The US and Britain strongly endorse Rutte’s candidacy for the post.
  • US President Biden supports Rutte’s candidacy, citing his understanding of the Alliance’s importance and his leadership skills.
  • Rutte has received support from about 20 NATO members thus far.
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On Thursday, the United States and Britain endorsed outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to succeed Jens Stoltenberg as the next secretary general of NATO, positioning him strongly to secure the post. The successor to Stoltenberg, who steps down in October, will assume office at a critical moment, responsible for maintaining NATO members’ backing for Ukraine’s costly defense against Russia’s invasion while ensuring vigilance against any escalation that could lead the alliance into direct conflict with Russia.

“President Biden strongly endorses PM Rutte’s candidacy to be the next Secretary General of NATO,” a US official said.

“PM Rutte has a deep understanding of the importance of the Alliance is a natural leader and communicator, and his leadership would serve the Alliance well at this critical time.”

Depending on the outcome of November’s US presidential election, the next NATO boss may have to address a second term for Donald Trump, who recently once again questioned his commitment to defending NATO allies. NATO leaders are appointed by consensus, requiring the support — or at the very least no opposition — from all its 31 members. According to two diplomats, Rutte has received backing from about 20 NATO members thus far.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has led to Sweden’s imminent accession as the Western alliance’s 32nd member. Rutte, who was already seen as the frontrunner for the role, expressed his interest in leading the North Atlantic Treaty Organization last year. The British Foreign Office stated that Rutte is a highly respected figure within NATO, possessing significant defense and security credentials, and is poised to ensure the alliance remains robust and prepared for any defensive requirements. Despite unexpectedly announcing his departure from Dutch politics in July, Rutte remains in his position as a caretaker leader while coalition negotiations continue following a Nov. 22 election.

Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, has served as NATO chief since 2014. The alliance extended its term for a fourth time in July last year, opting to retain an experienced leader amidst Russia’s war in Ukraine raging on NATO’s doorstep. Diplomats indicate that Rutte is currently the sole official candidate for the post. Although Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins have expressed interest, they have not been formally presented as candidates. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark, previously mentioned as a potential successor, ruled out the possibility on Thursday, stating that she would decline the job if offered to her.

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