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Ending a six-week vacuum at its top post, NATO named Javier Solana of Spain as the new secretary-general of the 16-nation alliance. The choice closes a difficult period for the Alliance that started when Willy Claes was forced to resign October 20 in connection with a government corruption scandal in his native Belgium. After the nominations of former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers and former Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen were blocked, Solana emerged as the favorite last month. TIME's Jane Walker reports that the choice of Solana, a former history professor and Spain's current Foreign Minister could raise some eyebrows: "He was vociferous in his anti-NATO stance before the Socialists came to power in 1982, although he has since toned down his views and is a firm supporter." Because Spain is not part of the military structure of the Alliance, some member nations also had misgivings about Solana's appointment to a crucial leadership position as NATO prepares to deploy 60,000 troops in the Balkans.