Dutch PM Mark Rutte set to be NATO's next chief after last rival pulls out

Romania’s president has withdrawn from the race to become NATO’s next secretary general, leaving outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte all but certain to head the world’s biggest military organization from October.

The office of President Klaus Iohannis said in a statement that Romania’s security council has backed Rutte’s bid. It also said that Iohannis had informed NATO late last week that he intended to pull out.

His withdrawal removes the last real hurdle Rutte might face. It should allow NATO to put on a show of unity and demonstrate solidarity with war-ravaged Ukraine when U.S. President Joe Biden and his counterparts meet in Washington on July 9-11 to mark NATO’s 75th birthday.

Rutte’s appointment could be sealed by a meeting of NATO ambassadors in coming days, or by the leaders when they meet in Washington. He would officially start work on Oct. 1.

NATO secretaries-general are responsible for chairing meetings and guiding sometimes delicate consultations among the 32 member countries to ensure that an organization that operates on consensus can continue to function.

NATO makes all of its decisions by consensus, giving any of the 32 member countries an effective veto, including on whether they should take part in any joint effort or operation.


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