Russian FM Spokeswoman Pans Dutch Foreign Minister's 'Biggest Political Mistake'

Der niederländische Außenminister Halbe Zijlstra

Russian FM Spokeswoman Pans Dutch Foreign Minister's'Biggest Political Mistake AFP 2018 Emmanuel Dunand

The confidence vote came after Rutte faced a barrage of questions from Dutch MPs about why he had not informed parliament sooner about Zijlstra's false claims to have attended a 2006 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Wednesday, announcing his resignation, the politician admitted that he had made the biggest mistake in his political career, and said he did not want to cast aspersions on the Ministry, as the Netherlands deserve a Minister who "would be above any suspicion - both at home and overseas".

The incident has embarrassed Prime Minister Mark Rutte's four-party coalition government, which has a precarious parliamentary majority of just one seat.

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The debate continued without Zijlstra, but with Rutte, who had to defend his decision to initially support Zijlstra and why he did not inform the parliament immediately after he heard about Zijlstra's lie on Jan 29.

'I thought it was a sin, but not a deadly sin, ' Rutte said.

They had been due to discuss among other things the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 shot down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

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The tragedy in which all 298 people on board died, a lot of them Dutch , has soured ties, and led to accusations that Moscow is not presenting all the evidence it has to a Dutch-led criminal inquiry.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in a Facebook post confirmed the meeting had been canceled.

He also justified his resignation resolution as a result of how significant it is for the Netherlands to have a foreign minister with credibility that goes "beyond doubt, both inside and outside of the country".

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According to the minister, Putin said he wanted to restore a Great Russia, including Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic States. "Dutch officials are constantly making such unfounded statements", it said in a statement. According to Zijlstra, so he tried only to protect his source of information - the person who was in the room where came the words of the Russian President.

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