PM denies link Iraq support and NATO chief

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Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende denies foul-play in appointment of NATO Secretary-General.

THE HAGUE—Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has strongly denied any link between Dutch support for the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the appointment of Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as Secretary-General of NATO in September of that same year. On Thursday former Under Secretary of State Richard Armitage told a Dutch newspaper that the Dutch cabinet's support had benefited Mr De Hoop Scheffer's appointment.

The prime minister has dismissed the statement as "curious", saying that when the cabinet backed the invasion the appointment was not yet being considered. Mr Balkenende's remark has caused surprise because Mr De Hoop Scheffer's predecessor, Lord Robertson, announced his resignation in January 2003, two months before the invasion. The prime minister also reiterated that Washington made no specific request for military support. The government will answer questions in parliament about the matter next week.

Radio Netherlands/Expatica

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