THE HAGUE – The Netherlands’ Foreign Affairs Minister Halbe Zijlstra presented on Tuesday his resignation to parliament after acknowledging that he lied about having met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Zijlstra had previously claimed he had attended a meeting with Putin in 2006 in which the Russian leader had reportedly described his expansionist ambitions to annex territories and recover a “greater Russia.”
“I should not have done that and I regret it immensely,” he said.
The Dutch politician had in fact spoken with a former chief of the oil company Shell who was present at the Putin meeting but had not relayed the words that the president had allegedly spoken.
Zijlstra, who was named to his post in October, is a member of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).