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Dutch foreign minister resigns over lies about meeting with Putin

The Hague has officially notified Moscow of the top diplomat's visit cancellation

THE HAGUE, February 13. /TASS/. Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra has tendered his resignation over the scandal around his lying about meeting the Russian president back in 2006.

Announcing his decision during debates in the national parliament, Zijlstra said those statement was the biggest mistake in his political career and his country deserved a better foreign minister who could be trusted.

The diplomat said in an interview with in the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant he had lied about being at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006.

Earlier, Zijlstra said that in early 2006 as a representative of Shell he attended a meeting with Putin, when the Russian leader allegedly said he considered Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Kazakhstan as part of "Greater Russia."

On the same day, the minister apologized for his words saying it was silly of him to say that. But opposition parties requested parliamentary debates on confidence to Zijlstra.

In the meantime, the Dutch foreign minister was to fly to Moscow later on Tuesday to have talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on the following day. The Netherlands has officially notified Russia of Zijlstra’s visit cancellation.