Dutch foreign minister quits after lying about Putin meetingFebruary 13, 2018 5:00pm

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch foreign affairs minister resigned Tuesday, a day after admitting that he lied about attending a meeting hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin more than a decade ago.

An emotional Halbe Zijlstra announced his resignation at the start of a debate Tuesday at which he was expected to be grilled by opposition lawmakers about the lie. He called it "by far the biggest mistake I have committed in my entire career."

"This is about the credibility of the minister of foreign affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands," Zijlstra said. "That credibility must be beyond doubt."

Zijlstra, a member of Prime Minister Mark Rutte's center-right VVD party, is the first minister to quit since Rutte's four-party coalition took office in October. Rutte, who was also in Parliament for Zijlstra's resignation, hugged him as he left.

Zijlstra's position as the country's top diplomat became untenable after he admitted lying about a meeting with Putin.

Zijlstra has in the past said he attended a 2006 meeting when Putin said he considered Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states as part of a "Greater Russia."

On Monday, Zijlstra conceded he wasn't present at the meeting but heard the story from somebody who was. He said he considered Putin's statements so geopolitically important that he spoke about them publicly and took credit for hearing the comments as a way of protecting his source.

"It was clearly a wrong choice," Zijlstra said as he announced his resignation.

The Russian embassy in the Netherlands waded into the debate by issuing a statement accusing some in the Netherlands of distributing "fake news" aimed at discrediting Moscow by suggesting it has expansionist ambitions.

"This can only be heard from those who are interested in presenting Russia as an enemy and who under the pretext of the notorious 'Russian threat' keep pushing NATO military infrastructure eastwards, therefore consciously provoking military confrontation," the Russian statement said.

Zijlstra's resignation came a day before he was due to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow.

There was no immediate announcement about a replacement.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Dutch lawmakers label massacre of Armenians as genocideLawmakers in the Netherlands overwhelmingly have voted to label as genocide the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks more than a century ago
Rick Gates leaves federal court in Washington, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. Gates, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign pleaded guilty in the special counsel's Russia investigation to federal conspiracy and false statements charges. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
AP FACT CHECK: Trump sees himself outperforming history
FILE - In this file photo taken on Monday, March 14, 2016, anti-corruption activist Lyubov Sobol talks to the Associated Press in Moscow, Russia.TLyubov Sobol who led the investigation for the Foundation for Fighting Corruption told The Associated Press that the ease with which Prigozhin has dodged probes and accusations testifies to his special place at the Kremlin: "He is under Vladimir Putin's protection and is beyond reach for police and courts in Russia." (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Russian indicted by US seen as doing favors for Putin
This photo released on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ghouta Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a part of an airstrike missile lies on a street, as Syrian government airstrikes continue hit Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. Syrian government warplanes supported by Russia continued their relentless bombardment of the rebel-controlled eastern suburbs of Damascus for a sixth day Friday, killing five people, opposition activists and a war monitor reported. The death toll from the past week climbed to more than 400. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
The Latest: UN delays vote on 30-day Syria cease-fire
FILE In this file photo taken on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, President Vladimir Putin, second right, Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, second left, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, left, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov, attend meeting with intelligence officers on their professional holiday in Moscow, Russia. The Russian president's reluctance to adopt the hyperconnected world's technology might seem at odds with the wide belief that he signed off on campaign to undermine the United States via social media. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
Putin is heir to Russia's long disinformation experience
DC Metro rejects Amnesty ads showing Trump, Putin, othersAmnesty International has criticized the Washington Metro's rejection of an ad campaign featuring depictions U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Related Searches

Related Searches