Joe Biden Wants Ursula von der Leyen To Be Next Nato Chief

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US President Joe Biden is pushing for Ursula von der Leyen to be installed as the next Nato secretary general.

The president of the European Commission was said to be the United States’ preferred candidate after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace’s candidacy was blocked by the White House and France.

During private talks von der Leyen reportedly told Biden she would not be available to take over any role at Nato until at least next year.

The Telegraph reports: reports: On Tuesday, Nato allies agreed a one-year extension for Jens Stoltenberg, who has been secretary general since October 2014, to lead the alliance until autumn 2024.

Nato leaders had hoped to reach a deal on a successor to Mr Stoltenberg at their annual summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next week, but have failed to agree on a candidate.

A Nato source said that the US president was attempting to convince Mrs von der Leyen, a former German defence minister, to succeed Mr Stoltenberg amid fears a suitable candidate will not emerge in the next 12 months.

“We’re going to have a problem next year when it becomes clear that the field is no stronger than this year,” a second source said.

Mr Biden and Mrs von der Leyen have built “a strong bond” in recent years, fostering close transatlantic ties over China, Ukraine and the climate, another source said.

She was said to now “rely on Washington for intelligence” in a shift away from information relayed to her by European agencies, which misjudged Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Fluent in French, she would likely secure the support of Emmanuel Macron, who was opposed to Mr Wallace’s candidacy

Meanwhile, Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor and a former political rival of Mrs von der Leyen, would like to see her out of the frame to keep a top EU job.

Concerns, however, may arise over her recent poor handling of the German defence ministry, which she led between 2013 and 2019. 

Niamh Harris
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