Joe Biden backs Ursula von Der Leyen for next Nato chief after Ben Wallace’s candidacy was blocked

5 July 2023, 11:19 | Updated: 5 July 2023, 13:23

Joe Biden backs Ursula von der Leyen for Nato chief instead of Ben Wallace
Joe Biden backs Ursula von der Leyen for Nato chief instead of Ben Wallace. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Asher McShane

Joe Biden wants Ursula von der Leyen to become the next secretary general of Nato after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace’s candidacy was blocked.

EC president Ms von der Leyen is Mr Biden’s candidate of choice, the Telegraph reports.

NATO has agreed a one-year extension for Jens Stotenberg, who has served as secretary general since October 2014. He will remain in post until October 2024.

This is thought to be because Mr Biden wants to allow time for Ms von der Leyen’s term at the EU to end next year.

Mr Wallace has been pitching for the role and Rishi Sunak is understood to have lobbied the US President during last month’s trip to Washington.

Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, pose during the G7 summit at the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan last year.
Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, pose during the G7 summit at the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan last year. Picture: Alamy

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But Mr Wallace dropped out of the race to replace Mr Stoltenberg last month after his candidacy was opposed by the White House and France.

A NATO source told the Telegraph that Mr Biden is attempting to convince Mrs von der Leyen, a former German defence minister, to succeed Mr Stoltenberg as there may not be another suitable candidate to emerge in the coming 12 months.

She has previously said it was an ‘honour’ to be included on a list of possible successors but her official spokesman has said she is “not available for the job, be it now or in the future.”

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