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US, UK reportedly endorse Dutch PM Mark Rutte as next NATO Secretary General

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 22, 2024 6:58 PM 1 min read
Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte arrives at the European Council summit at Batiment Europa on Dec. 14, 2023, in Brussels, Belgium. (Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
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The U.S. and the U.K. are endorsing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to become the next NATO Secretary General, according to media reports on Feb. 22, which cited officials in Washington D.C. and London.

The mandate of current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ends on Oct. 1, after 10 years in the role. He was previously prime minister of Norway from 2005 to 2013.

Under Rutte, the Netherlands has taken a proactive role in supporting Ukraine, for example by spearheading the fighter jet coalition and pledging to deliver 24 F-16 jets to Ukraine.

President Joe Biden "strongly endorses PM Rutte's candidacy to be the next Secretary General of NATO," a U.S. official told Reuters.

"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," Reuters cited the official.

"The U.K. strongly backs Dutch PM Mark Rutte to succeed Jens Stoltenberg as NATO secretary-general," a U.K. official told journalists, according to Politico.

"Rutte is well-respected across the alliance, has serious defense and security credentials, and will ensure that the alliance remains strong and ready to defend and deter," the official said.

The Netherlands held an election in November 2023, which saw Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) come third after the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) and the Green Left-Labour alliance.

After 11 weeks of negotiations, talks to form a new coalition government stalled in early February. Rutte therefore remains the country's caretaker prime minister, a role he has held since 2010.

Rutte told a Kyiv Independent reporter at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 17 that the Netherlands is actively working with Kyiv on a bilateral agreement on security guarantees.

Rutte voiced optimism that the "discussions should be closed fairly soon."

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