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Denmark's PM Rasmussen is NATO candidate - report

MYT 5:03:16 AM

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has formally announced that he is a candidate to become NATO's next secretary-general at a meeting with the alliance's ambassadors, Danish media reported on Thursday.

Danish national broadcaster DR quoted sources as saying that while Rasmussen had said he wanted the job, Turkey was still the main opponent to his candidacy.

Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is seen arriving at a EU leaders summit in Brussels in this March 19, 2009 file photo. Rasmussen has formally announced that he is a candidate to become NATO's next secretary-general at a meeting with the alliance's ambassadors, Danish media reported on Thursday. (REUTERS/Eric Vidal/Files)

DR said the other 26 member states were not opposed to him succeeding the current secretary-general, Dutchman Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Rasmussen's office could not immediately be reached to comment on the report, but Michael Ulveman, the prime minister's spokesman, told Daily Politiken he had no comment.

The Danish prime minister had said for months that he was not an official candidate for the post, but switched tack three weeks ago and subsequently refused comment.

Rasmussen has long been the front-runner for the post, but Turkey is unhappy with his handling of a 2006 row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

NATO wants to name a new secretary-general at a summit co-hosted by France and Germany starting on Friday. De Hoop Scheffer can stay on until July 31 in his current mandate and several nations have stressed the decision on naming a successor can be delayed.

If he gets the job, Rasmussen will most likely be succeeded as prime minister by Finance Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who is deputy chairman of the Liberal Party, the senior partner in Denmark's ruling centre-right coalition.

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