US Ambassador to Netherlands Dodges 'No-go Zones' Questions

Pete Hoekstra

Pete Hoekstra. U.S. Congress Wikimedia Commons

The US and other foreign media have reported widely on the "roasting" the new US ambassador to the Netherlands received from Dutch reporters when he tried to brush off statements about no-go areas and politicians being burned.

In 2015, Hoekstra claimed that "stealth jihad" was taking place in Europe via refugees - who he referred to as "invaders" - and that the entire country was in a state of "chaos", according to The Intercept. Another told the former congressman, "This is the Netherlands; you have to answer questions".

"Do you now reach the conclusion that you were wrong when you stated that politicians and cars were being burned?" one reporter asked, the Times reported. But Hoekstra, squirming through his first news conference in The Hague, was merely the more visible of the Dutch media's two targets.

After Hoekstra had presented his credentials to the Dutch king in the Hague on Wednesday, the former congressman told reporters that he would be "moving on" from the controversy over his remarks. "And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands".

In late December, Hoekstra apologized for telling a Dutch journalist that he was peddling "fake news" when Hoekstra was the one caught telling untruths.

"Everybody there had one question: that insane statement you made, are you going to withdraw it?" said Roel Geeraedts, a political reporter at the Dutch television station RTL Nieuws in a phone interview about the event. Hoekstra denied making them-despite a video of the conference that showed otherwise. "This is the Netherlands; you have to answer questions".

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"We were all astonished that he didn't want to take back the comment". It was awkward, to be honest'.

But when the clip was played for him, the Dutch-born ambassador then denied accusing his interviewer on camera just moments before of "fake news". "He's been received well by the Dutch government, and we hope that he can be received well by the people of the Netherlands".

In contrast to the Dutch reporters at the briefing, the White House Press Corps has been criticized for agreeing to off-camera briefings for several weeks last summer and failing to call out White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and follow up when she refuses to answer questions or responds with lies about the administration.

Video of the weird exchange, juxtaposed with his "no-go zone" remarks, went viral, and the episode drew a slew of critical headlines in the United States and the Netherlands.

Hoekstra said he hoped to begin in-depth briefings with Dutch officials on the United States perspectives on issues both countries face, including counter-terrorism and cyber threats.

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