LONDON Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said on Thursday he would have liked to have been the European Union's new foreign policy chief, but added that the circumstances were not right.
Catherine Ashton, who was little known even in Britain, was selected last month to fill the new post of high representative for foreign affairs.
"In other circumstances I would of course have liked to have done that job as it combines my interest in Europe and foreign affairs," Mandelson told BBC radio.
Ashton replaced Mandelson as EU trade commissioner a year ago and emerged as a surprise appointment after British efforts to have Tony Blair made EU president were rebuffed and Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he was not interested in the EU foreign policy job.
But Mandelson said he was never seriously in the running for the post of high representative.
"The circumstances didn't arise," he said. He also denied that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had blocked his appointment to the post. "Nobody blocked me, I'm afraid we didn't get to that happy stage."
(Writing by Jon Hemming; Editing by Keith Weir)