The Dutch Foreign Minister has emerged as the front-runner to become the next NATO secretary general after an eight month search for a successor to Britain’s George Robertson.
Officials said Jaap de Hoop Schefferd had the edge over the other leading candidate, Canadian Finance Minister John Manley, partly because the alliance’s European members were reluctant to relinquish their traditional hold on NATO’s top job.
Robertson announced in January he intends to step down at the end of this year after four years at the helm.
The straight-talking Scot is to become a deputy chairman of telecommunication’s group Cable & Wireless.
Diplomats said they expected an announcement on a replacement in the next few weeks.
Though relatively inexperienced at the highest levels of government, de Hoop Scheffer, 55, has impressed his colleagues with a down-to-earth style and commitment to modernising the alliance.