14:17 GMT +325 May 2018
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    Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra leaves the Dutch parliament Tweede Kamer after he announced his resignation in The Hague

    Dutch FM Resigns After Admitting Lies About 2006 Meeting With Putin

    © AFP 2018 / Martijn Beekman/ANP
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    Halbe Zijlstra has admitted that he lied about him being present at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He handed in his resignation at a hastily-called session of parliament, hours before his planned official trip to Moscow.

    Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra has announced his resignation before members of parliament, noting that it was a mistake to lie about his presence at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006 and about the words he alleged that Putin said.

    "I made a wrong choice, I shouldn’t have done that […] I see no other option today than to hand in my resignation to his majesty the King," said Zijlstra in front of MPs.

    Commenting on reports of the Dutch FM's resignation, the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman told Sputnik that they were still expecting Zijlstra's visit to Moscow. However, the Netherlands later informed the Russian Foreign Ministry that the visit to Moscow was cancelled.

    "The Dutch side has officially informed [Russia] about the cancellation of the visit by the foreign minister to Russia," the ministry said.

    READ MORE: Dutch FM Admits Lying About Hearing Putin Speak of 'Greater Russia' in 2006

    Zijlstra earlier claimed multiple times that he overheard Putin saying that Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltics and Kazakhstan are all parts of the "Great Russia" during a meeting with Russian businessmen in 2006. In his latest interview with the Volkskrant newspaper, he admitted he never attended the meeting, but was forced to lie in order to protect the man, who told him this story and actually participated in the event.

    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte earlier said that despite his "unwise" decision, Zijlstra would keep his office, as the content of the story remained uncontested. However, opposition parties called to discuss the incident in parliament, before Zijlstra was to go to Moscow on his official trip.

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