THE HAGUE, February 12. /TASS/. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Halbe Zijlstra has admitted that he had lied about being at the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006, De Volkskrant, a Dutch newspaper reported on Monday
Earlier, Zijlstra said that in the early 2006 as a representative of Shell he attended a meeting at Putin's dacha (in Russia - a seasonal or year-round second home in the countryside -TASS), when the Russian leader allegedly said he considered Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states as part of "Greater Russia."
"I happened to be in a room next to a small hall where the meeting was taking place. But I could very well hear what Vladimir Putin's answer was to the question of what he understood under Greater Russia," he said as quoted by the newspaper.
'This was an important geopolitical story that might have serious implications. Therefore, I decided to tell this in the first person, to make sure that the person who was there would not become the revealing factor. Because this could also have implications for him or his company," the foreign minsiter explained.
The top diplomat confessed that "this was not wise" and added that he "should have acted differently."
Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte noted that Zijlstra did not act wisely, though adding that he should remain in office as foreign minister.
"It was not a wise approach. But it concerned important information that attracted his attention," Rutte said as quoted by the Dutch TV.
On Tuesday, Zijlstra is scheduled to arrive in Moscow for his first meeting as foreign minister with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
One of the main topics on the agenda is the investigation into the Boeing plane crash in Ukraine in 2014.
On July 17, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight MH17 en route from the Dutch city of Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur crashed in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine. All the 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers, who were nationals from ten countries, died in the crash. Most passengers were Dutch citizens. Ukrainian authorities and the militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic accused each other of the tragedy. Dutch authorities have been investigating the crash.