The new US ambassador to the Netherlands has told the Telegraaf that he had made mistakes in talking about no-go zones and politicians being set on fire.
Piet Hoekstra, who took up office last week and earlier refused to comment when pressed on the issue by Dutch reporters, told the Telegraaf at the weekend that his comments were ‘just wrong’.
Hoekstra has been under fire in the Netherlands for making the comments in a speech in 2015, then calling the reporting of his comments fake news.
‘The statement about politicians being burned was imprecise,’ the paper quotes Hoekstra as saying. ‘And the no-go zones, that could be an exaggeration of what happens here.’
Asked where the information had come from, Hoekstra said he could not remember. ‘I have tried to find the statement back about politicians being set on fire in the Netherlands. When I look back, I am shocked that I said it.
‘There are of course situations in European countries which look like it, but that has never been the case in the Netherlands. It was a wrong statement. It was plain wrong.’
Hoekstra also told the Telegraaf that he had not seen the footage in which he made the comments when he described the claim he had said them as fake news.
The ambassador went on to say that he had been welcomed warmly in the Netherlands and that he did not think the difficult start would damage his role.
” I have had 25 years of experience in promoting Dutch American interests,’ he said. ‘People know who I am and a comment from 2015 is not at the top of their list.’