Outgoing prime minister Mark Rutte had a meeting with Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg to discuss the global geopolitical situation on Wednesday evening, two weeks after Rutte said he would not be averse to taking over the job.
Officials in The Hague said the meeting was a regular discussion but insiders say there is widespread speculation within Nato about Rutte’s possible candidacy.
Rutte is standing down at the November general election but will remain prime minister in a caretaker capacity until a new coalition government is sworn in, which could take several months.
Stoltenberg this summer agreed to stay in the position for a further year but will step down in October 2024.
Rutte is one of Europe’s longest-serving prime ministers and has been at the helm in the Netherlands for 13 years.
His chances may be dented however by the arrival of Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas who has also thrown her hat in the ring. And as broadcaster NOS pointed out, Estonia, unlike the Netherlands, does meet the Nato recommendation to allocate 2% of GDP to defence.
Earlier this month Rutte told The Hague radio show Spuigasten that the role of Nato chief would enable him to still contribute once he he no longer prime minister.
Rutte told the programme it would be good if a woman had the job and that he would not actively lobby for the position. “But if it comes my way, perhaps yes,” he said.
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