Danish Prime Minister Seeks to Cool NATO Talk During WH Visit

June 6, 2023 by Dan McCue
Danish Prime Minister Seeks to Cool NATO Talk During WH Visit
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen after meeting with President Joe Biden Monday afternoon. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — “I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I am not a candidate for any other job than the one I have now,” said Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen as she left the West Wing of the White House Monday afternoon.

“This has not changed after my meeting with the U.S. president,” she added.

Speculation about Frederiksen as a top contender to lead the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after the current secretary general of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, steps down in October, has been rife since rumors surfaced in a report by the Norwegian newspaper VG last month.

They may grow more intense after her visit with the president, an Oval Office session that was supposed to last 45 minutes but stretched on almost to the two-hour mark.

The session was the first of two meetings Biden is holding with European allies this week. On Thursday, he will meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Both were largely expected to focus on the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Both nations are playing key roles in a newly announced initiative to supply Ukraine with American-made F-16 fighter jets — this after months of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleading for such support.

Speaking to reporters before his meeting with Frederiksen, Biden said both leaders share a commitment “to the core values … and that gives us our strength.”

“Together we’re working to protect those values — including standing up for the people of Ukraine against the brutal aggression of the Russians,” he said.

Frederiksen for her part thanked Biden for leading the transatlantic alliance.

“I am looking forward to working even closer with you on defense and security,” she said.

Biden was also expected to discuss with Frederiksen and Rishi preparations for next month’s NATO summit in Lithuania.

Among other things, Zelenskyy has been pressing NATO leaders to define a path for Ukraine to eventually become a formal member of the alliance.

After the meeting, Frederiksen was asked by reporters if she would comment on Pope Francis having directed Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi to carry out a peace mission to try to help end the war in Ukraine.

Answering in Danish, she said, “I think all of us are very interested in peace” but added, “it takes two to tango” and “we still need a signal from Russia.” 

“And none of us in the alliance want to do anything without Ukraine,” she said.

Asked again about all the talk of her succeeding Stoltenberg at NATO, Frederiksen said while such talk is certainly complimentary, she did not want to go “further in these speculations about NATO.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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