Bashful denials over top EU job

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THE CANDIDATES lined up to replace Jacques Delors were yesterday united in protesting that they did not want the job of European Commission president - a tactic that diplomats suggested lent weight to the notion that a name would emerge only at the last moment.

The German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, who is leading the search for a compromise candidate, arrives today in Dublin from Madrid. His tour of EU capitals has been characterised by a news blackout, leaving diplomats to fill the void with a list of presidential hopefuls.

But in an unusual show of political bashfulness none of the front-runners will admit to wanting the job that Mr Delors has fashioned into one of the most powerful in Europe.

Italy yesterday officially denied that the former prime minister, Giuliano Amato, was a candidate, while the former Danish foreign minister, Uffe Elleman-Jensen, insisted the only job he wanted was that of prime minister. Denmark will hold a general election in the autumn. Felipe Gonzalez, once dauphin to Mr Delors and a choice that would please almost everyone, repeated yet again that he is not interested. Mr Kinkel yesterday also dismissed suggestions that Spain's Finance Minister, Pedro Solbes, might fit the bill, as 'pure media speculation'.