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Jens Stoltenberg to Remain NATO Chief - by Steven Erlanger for the New York Times - 04.07.23

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, addressing the press at the White House last month. His calm demeanor has made him trusted in Washington. Credit...Haiyun Jiang for The New York TimesAfter initially saying he would leave the job in September, NATO’s secretary general said he would stay on another year.


BRUSSELS — Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, finally gave in. Having previously announced that he would leave the job this September, he reversed himself on Tuesday and said that he had agreed to extend his mandate another year, until October 2024.


In a Twitter message, Mr. Stoltenberg confirmed what had come to seem inevitable, saying: “Honoured by #NATO Allies’ decision to extend my term as Secretary General until 1 October 2024.”


His reappointment takes a contentious issue off the agenda of NATO’s yearly summit meeting, scheduled for next week in Vilnius, Lithuania. The meeting is designed to show trans-Atlantic unity and solidarity in support for Ukraine as it battles Russia’s invasion.


The Biden administration has been unenthusiastic about other candidates for the job while the war in Ukraine still rages, and France and other members of the European Union had made it clear that they would not accept a non-E.U. figure in the role, such as the British defense secretary, Ben Wallace.


The prime minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, went to Washington last month to meet with President Biden and American officials, but she later said that she was no longer a candidate to be NATO secretary general and would back Mr. Stoltenberg if he was willing to extend his tenure.


President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who has long called for his country’s entry into NATO, said in a Telegram post that he had congratulated Mr. Stoltenberg on his decision. In a phone call, Mr. Zelensky said, he had also thanked Mr. Stoltenberg for his support. The two men, he added, “coordinated our positions” before the summit next week.


Mr. Stoltenberg, 64, a former Norwegian prime minister, has served in the job since 2014 and has had his mandate extended three times. He has earned the trust of allies, particularly Washington, through his calm demeanor, his public humility and his ability to navigate the demands of what are now 31 member states in an organization that runs by consensus.


He was particularly praised for his ability to work with former President Donald J. Trump, whose contempt for NATO was often on display.


Mr. Stoltenberg is now expected to preside over his last summit in Washington next year, which will also mark NATO’s 75th anniversary. That is, unless he is asked to extend his mandate once again.



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Steven Erlanger is the chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe, based in Brussels. He previously reported from London, Paris, Jerusalem, Berlin, Prague, Moscow and Bangkok. More about Steven Erlanger



Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, addressing the press at the White House last month. His calm demeanor has made him trusted in Washington. Credit...Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times.

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