Danish premier leaves for NATO summit, confirms interest in top job

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh RasmussenCopenhagen  - Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday held meetings with his cabinet and confirmed he was a candidate for new NATO secretary general, Danish media reported.

After the meetings, the premier left for a summit of the defence alliance, but did not met the press.

Rasmussen, who has been premier since 2001, has been mentioned as a favourite to become the new secretary general of NATO. However, Turkey has expressed opposition to his appointment.

The 56-year-old premier met with members of the centre-right Liberal Party and then the Conservatives, the junior partner in his government.

Defence Minister Soren Gade said he would "welcome" a decision at the NATO summit, the online edition of the Politiken newspaper reported.

Gade said government members "also read newspapers" and "follow what is being discussed" in reference to recent media speculation of Rasmussen's candidature for the NATO post.

Minister for Taxation Kristian Jensen said he would be "very proud" if Rasmussen is named. "It is an important post and would give credit to his leadership of Denmark."

Jensen said he looked forward to cooperating with Finance Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, favoured to succeed Rasmussen as premier. dpa