UK joins US in supporting new NATO chief

The Dutch prime minister “is highly respected throughout the alliance,” a British government spokesman said.

Rutte may become the next head of NATO / photo

Britain is ready to back Mark Rutte as the next leader of NATO, a British official said on Thursday, hours after US President Joe Biden’s support for the outgoing Dutch prime minister was revealed.

“The UK strongly supports Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who will succeed Jens Stoltenberg as NATO secretary general,” a British official told reporters, POLITICO writes.

“Rutte is highly respected throughout the alliance, has strong defense and security credentials and will ensure that the alliance remains strong and ready to defend and deter,” the official added.

The British declaration puts further pressure on eastern flank countries to stop wavering over Rutte, who has been criticized for failing to bring Dutch defense spending to the 2 percent of GDP target promised by all NATO allies.

However, Rutte is the clear favorite among the big allies. On Wednesday he emerged as the front-runner in the head-to-head race for the alliance’s top job, which Stoltenberg is expected to vacate in October.

Rutte’s prospects – details

Rutte has already secured the support of two-thirds of NATO countries to lead the military alliance, two senior officials said.

Later in the day, a US official confirmed that Biden is among Rutte’s backers, a move likely to encourage more allies to back Rutte’s nomination. Rutte needs the support of all 31 NATO members before he can be declared secretary general.

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