Danish premier Rasmussen downplays NATO job rumours

Other News Materials 17 February 2009 16:16 (UTC +04:00)

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday downplayed speculation he was bidding for the post of NATO secretary-general, saying he was "not a candidate for any international post", dpa reported.

Speaking at a news conference the eve of a trip to key European capitals, Rasmussen was asked repeatedly if he planned to seek support as future head of the defence alliance during talks in London, Berlin and Brussels.

"I am not a candidate to any international post, and it is my intent to stay on as prime minister of Denmark," Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen has been mentioned as a possible candidate but said it was "a hypothetical question, and I don't answer hypothetical questions" when asked if he would decline or not, saying NATO had a secretary-general whose mandate expires on August 1.

He declined to comment if Denmark was promoting a candidate, but said the future NATO secretary-general needed to be a spokesman for an organization undergoing changes in response to new security challenges.

Rasmussen said he planned to discuss the need for joint efforts to tackle the global economic crisis during his talks Wednesday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London and later in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Coordinating the European Union stance on climate change ahead of his country hosting the international climate conference in Copenhagen in December was another topic he would discuss also on Thursday in Brussels with European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso.

Providing sufficient military forces to Afghanistan and improving aid efforts to restore the war-torn country was another topic, he said.

Rasmussen, 56, has been at the helm of government since 2001 when his centre-Right Liberal Party formed a minority government with the Conservatives, and secured backing from the populist Danish People's Party - that has controversially pushed for tighter immigration rules.