UPDATE - Outgoing Dutch Premier Rutte becomes next NATO chief

UPDATE - Outgoing Dutch Premier Rutte becomes next NATO chief

Mark Rutte to take over as secretary-general on Oct. 1, when Jens Stoltenberg's term expires after 10 years at helm of alliance

ADDS MORE DETAILS, REVISES HEADLINE

By Burak Bir

LONDON (AA) - NATO allies have selected outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as the military alliance’s next secretary general, according to an official statement released on Wednesday.

"On Wednesday (26 June 2024), the North Atlantic Council decided to appoint Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as the next Secretary General of NATO, succeeding Jens Stoltenberg," NATO said in the statement.

Rutte will take office on Oct. 1 and become NATO's 14th secretary general when Stoltenberg's term expires after 10 years at the helm of the organization.

"It is a tremendous honour to be appointed Secretary-General of NATO. The Alliance is and will remain the cornerstone of our collective security," Rutte wrote on X.

Rutte expressed gratitude to all allies for putting their trust in him and praised Stoltenberg for his "outstanding leadership" over the last 10 years.

NATO's outgoing chief Stoltenberg welcomed the appointment and wished him success.

"Mark is a true transatlanticist, a strong leader and a consensus-builder," Stoltenberg wrote on X.

Last week, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis withdrew from the race to lead the alliance, clearing the way for 57-year-old Rutte.

NATO allies agreed last July to extend 65-year-old Norwegian politician Stoltenberg's mandate for another year until Oct. 1, 2024.

He has been serving as the 13th secretary general of NATO since 2014.

To assume the top NATO role, a candidate must have the endorsement of all 32 NATO allies.

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