Dutch FM admits lying about meeting Putin in 2006


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte overwhelmingly survived a late-night vote of no-confidence on Tuesday just hours after his foreign minister quit, admitting he had lied about a key meeting. 'You have to be able to believe what a foreign minister says, ' diplomacy expert Robert van der Roer told the Volkskrant, adding that the Netherlands reputation has been undermined as well.

And that's what the Dutch Foreign Minister has admitted to doing, after confessing that he lied when he claimed that he had once overheard President Vladimir Putin talking about plans to create a "greater Russian Federation".

"Contrary to his previous claims, he was never present at the meeting with the Russian president", the centre-left paper wrote.

Several media reports stated that in 2016 Zijlstra alleged Putin had expressed ambitions to create a "Greater Russia".

Zijlstra's resignation came after his claims to have attended a meeting 12 years ago with Putin in his dacha which included Jeroen van der Veer, Shell's former chief executive were revealed on Monday to be false.

"As I would like to explain to parliament tomorrow, I wanted to reveal important news and protect my source", Zijlstra told the NOS public broadcaster Monday.

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In 2006, Zijlstra said he was present at a meeting of the Russian president with business representatives, where Putin commented on the "Great Russia, which would include Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic States".

"I clearly heard Vladimir Putin's answer about what his understanding was of "Greater Russia"," Zijlstra told the audience.

The "Greater Russia" scandal has finished Zijlstra's four month-term as the foreign minister of the Netherlands, as he assumed the post only back in October 2017.

"Russia is being blamed for disseminating disinformation", the embassy said in a statement.

Mr Zijlstra had been due to travel to Moscow for a previously scheduled meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tomorrow. "Dutch officials are constantly making such unfounded statements.Isn't this an example of fake news directed against our country?"