De Maiziere leads race for NATO secretary general, report says

De Maiziere leads race for NATO secretary general, report says

German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere is the favourite in the race for NATO secretary general, the German news magazine Der Spiegel said Sunday, dpa reported.

De Maziere, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is seen as the most promising candidate to succeed former Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose five-year term ends next summer, the magazine said.

Germany's Defence Ministry did not comment on the report.

De Maiziere, 59, who has been defence minister since March 2011, has struggled with scandals, including questions about a helicopter tender, problems with the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet and the expensive cancellation of the Euro Hawk drone programme.

But others tipped as candidates - including Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Belgian Defence Minister Pieter De Crem and former Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini - face even greater hurdles in securing the approval of all 28 NATO members, the magazine said.

Merkel and the Defence Ministry as well as NATO headquarters in Brussels have given tacit approval to de Maziere's announcement of his candidacy after Germany's general election in September, it said.

If chosen, de Maziere would be only the second German to head the alliance since it was founded in 1949. CDU politician Manfred Wörner was secretary general from 1988 to 1994.

De Maiziere is the son of the late general Ulrich de Maziere, chief of staff of West Germany's armed forces from 1966 to 1972. He is also a cousin of Lothar de Maziere, East Germany's last and only democratically elected prime minister.

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