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NATO chief says his potential replacement up to allies

BRUSSELS (AFP) – NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday that it was up to alliance members to decide if they want to replace him, as they mull further extending his nine years in charge.

Ahead of a summit of leaders in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius next month, NATO’s 31 countries are now discussing finding a successor to replace him as the alliance’s secretary general.

Stoltenberg – who has been at the helm of Western military alliance since 2014 – already had his tenure prolonged by a year to October in the wake of Russia’s Ukraine conflict in February 2022.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has emerged as a possible frontrunner to succeed him.

British Defence Minister Ben Wallace has also thrown his hat in the ring.

But there is so far no consensus on a clear pick among NATO members, and diplomats are increasingly talking up the chances of Stoltenberg being asked to stay on.

Stoltenberg, 64, reiterated that he does not have “any intention of seeking an extension” but that the call was up to NATO members.

“When it comes to my successor that is an issue to be decided by the 31 allies,” Stoltenberg said at a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels.

“I’m responsible for all decisions that this alliance has to take except one, and that is about my future – that is for 31 allies to decide.”