Dutch Foreign Minister Resigns After Lying About Putin Meeting

Dutch Foreign Minister Resigns After Lying About Putin Meeting

Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra quit his post after admitting he lied about attending a 2006 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, stepping down the same day he had been scheduled to travel to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart.

The politician, a member of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal VVD party, announced his resignation in The Hague on Tuesday at the start of a debate where members of parliament wanted to question him. Zijlstra said he doesn’t want to burden his position, saying the way he handled the matter was the “biggest mistake” in his career.

Zijlstra, who became foreign affairs minister in October, is the first member of the current cabinet to leave. His departure constitutes a major embarrassment to Rutte, a little over 100 days into his third cabinet and just over a month before municipal elections that are seen as a gauge of the government’s popularity. During Rutte’s second cabinet, his team saw seven forced departures — including five of the VVD.

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