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Video by Katherine SPENCER

Latest update : 2009-04-03

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he was opposed to Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen's bid to become the next NATO chief because of his handling of a row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

AFP - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday he was opposed to Danish counterpart Anders Fogh Rasmussen's bid for NATO's top job because he doubted he could contribute to global peace.

Erdogan said Rasmussen failed to act on Turkish requests to ban a Denmark-based TV station linked to Kurdish rebels and criticised his stance during the crisis over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, published in Denmark in 2005.

"How can those who have failed to contribute to peace, contribute to peace in the future? We have doubts... and my personal opinion is negative," he said at a conference in London.

Erdogan said NATO was "an institution supposed to guarantee peace" and stressed that Turkey -- the alliance's sole mainly Muslim member -- "is absolutely against NATO losing strength."

Erdogan's remarks followed reports that Rasmussen officially announced his candidacy to be NATO's next secretary general at a meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels late Thursday.

The Danish prime minister is a favourite to succeed NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in August, with most of the alliance's big powers solidly behind him, but Turkey is seen as a key obstacle.

Heads of state and government from 28 NATO countries are meeting in Strasbourg, France and in the German towns of Kehl and Baden-Baden on Friday and Saturday for a summit marking the alliance's 60th anniversary.

Rasmussen has yet to publicly comment on his candidacy, but an announcement could be made at the summit.

Date created : 2009-04-03