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WORLD NEWS | NATO chief looks likely to stay on as allies struggle to find his replacement


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WASHINGTON, June 16 (AP) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks increasingly likely to extend his tenure at the helm of the world’s largest security organization again as member states Efforts are underway to agree on another candidate to succeed him.

Former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has been NATO’s top civilian official since 2014. His term was originally set to expire last year, but was extended for a second time following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, to keep him steady at the helm until 2022.

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President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts will choose a successor at a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12. There is no public nomination of candidates, and leaders usually decide who to appoint by consensus.

On Tuesday, Stoltenberg held talks with Biden in Washington. Biden has made it clear that he thinks highly of some of his potential successors, whose names have surfaced privately, according to a U.S. official familiar with the conversations between the two leaders.

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However, Biden conveyed to the NATO secretary general that it was “increasingly clear that there would be no consensus among NATO allies to pick a new leader,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, referring to private conversations.

Biden made it clear to Stoltenberg that he would welcome him to be in office longer — especially with the war in Ukraine seeing no end and the challenge of getting Sweden admitted to the 31-nation coalition.

“The president believes that Stoltenberg has done an excellent job over the past year and a half leading the coalition during the Russian invasion,” the official said. “He’s also happy with Stoltenberg’s persistence. He sees himself as a very effective leader.”

The official did not say that Biden directly asked Stoltenberg to stay on as NATO chief.

Stoltenberg, who was repeatedly asked about his future at the helm on Friday, said: “I have nothing to say about that. Working here, I have no other plans.”

The U.S. official also said Biden spoke highly of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. NATO is keen to appoint a woman to the top job, and Denmark’s prime minister is seen as a favorite after meeting with Biden earlier this month.

But in a TV interview on Thursday, Fredrickson said: “No, I’m not on my way to NATO.” She did say she would support Stoltenberg if he offered to extend his term.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius also made it clear that he would support extending Stoltenberg’s term if necessary.

“NATO will not be able to live without a secretary-general if we cannot agree on a successor candidate, and I certainly support an extension – especially because I appreciate our cooperation,” he told reporters.

Norwegian media said on Friday that Biden encouraged Stoltenberg to stay in office.

Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said it “understood” that Biden’s message to Stoltenberg “would not be misunderstood: Jens Stoltenberg must remain NATO secretary general for a while.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also ruled out her candidacy. Other possible names are Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. (Associated Press)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)


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