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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will become NATO secretary-general

Dutch outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte (R), will become NATO secretary-general in October after Romanian President Klaus Iohannis withdrew his candidacy for the job. File photo by Remko De Waal/EPA-EFE
Dutch outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte (R), will become NATO secretary-general in October after Romanian President Klaus Iohannis withdrew his candidacy for the job. File photo by Remko De Waal/EPA-EFE

June 20 (UPI) -- Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will become NATO secretary-general in October as Romanian President Klaus Iohannis withdrew his effort Thursday to succeed Jens Stoltenberg.

Romania's support after Iohannis notified NATO's Supreme Council of National Defense that he would back out of the race cemented Rutte's effort.

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"President Klaus Iohannis asked the members of the Council to pronounce on the candidacy of Mark Rutte for the position of Secretary General of NATO. They declared in favor of Romania's support of the Dutch Prime Minister's candidacy," the Romanian president's office said in a statement.

NATO's secretary-general decision must be unanimous among alliance member countries.

Rutte is a strong backer of Ukraine and recently overcame Hungary's opposition to his bid to become secretary-general.

Orban supported Rutte after he affirmed he would honor the agreement to allow Hungary to not participate in support for Ukraine.

"PM Mark Rutte confirmed that he fully supports this deal and will continue to do so, should he become the next Secretary General of NATO. In light of his pledge, Hungary is ready to support PM Rutte's bid for NATO Secretary-General," Orban said.

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Rutte, who has campaigned for the secretary-general job since November, had been criticized for not doing enough to gain the support of Eastern European NATO members.

The Netherlands reached the 2% of national GDP NATO annual funding target under Rutte's leadership.

NATO is set to meet in Washington July 9-11 for an alliance summit.

Current NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg's term was extended several times beginning in 2017 and runs through the end of September 2024.

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