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Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday he would pay close attention to religious sensibilities in his new role as NATO chief in comments aimed at allaying Muslim concerns at his appointment.

Turkey had threatened to veto Rasmussen's appointment over his handling of a 2006 crisis triggered by cartoons of Islam's Prophet Mohammad in a Danish newspaper. His comments fell short of the outright apology which Turkish officials had hoped for.

"I respect Islam as one of the world's major religions as well as its religious symbols," Rasmussen said during a panel discussion at an Istanbul conference aimed at building bridges between the Muslim world and the West.

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