The Netherlands to fight against Saudi sanctions

A high-level Dutch delegation will reportedly travel to Saudi Arabia to help mend rift over anti-Islam tirade by far-right politician
The Netherlands to fight against Saudi sanctions
By Courtney Trenwith
Tue 20 May 2014 11:59 AM

The Netherlands will send a high-level delegation to Saudi Arabia this week in a bid to dissuade the kingdom from implementing sanctions in response to a far-right Dutch politician’s anti-Muslim tirade, according to Arab News.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans reportedly told his national broadcaster he would send the executive director for political affairs to Saudi Arabia to help fix the political spat.

“Timmermans has also expressed his desire to visit Saudi Arabia shortly to strengthen relations,” a senior official at the Dutch embassy in Riyadh, Maurice Pourchez, told Arab News.

A Dutch foreign ministry spokesman said earlier this week Saudi Arabia was preparing to implement economic sanctions on The Netherlands because of stickers printed by far-right politician Geert Wilders that display anti-Islam slogans in the colours of the Saudi flag.

The Council of Saudi Chambers also recently said it had received an order from the Saudi government to ban Dutch firms from participating in future projects in the kingdom, directly and via subcontracting.

The order also reduced to a minimum the number of visas for Dutch companies and investors not involved in vital projects and banned trade delegations between the two countries.

However, Pourchez said The Netherlands had not been officially informed by Saudi Arabia of any sanctions.

“We hope it does not happen and Dutch companies have expressed their concern,” he was quoted as saying.

About 30 Dutch companies operate in Saudi Arabia, while many more have trade relations with the kingdom.

Trade between the two countries is worth about €6bn ($8.2bn), according to Arab News.

The Dutch government has reportedly distanced itself from Wilders' actions.

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