Koenders and Kerry: ‘Cooperation between the US and the Netherlands is more relevant than ever’

Foreign minister Bert Koenders and his American counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry, spoke at length on 2 December, in the margins of the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. Mr Koenders and Mr Kerry talked about the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, other developments in the Middle East and relations with Russia. Both ministers stressed the importance of swiftly implementing the agreements made at the NATO summit in Wales in September. The US Secretary of State also invited Mr Koenders to visit the United States.

‘The Americans have long been one of our key allies, and they will remain so,’ said Mr Koenders following the meeting. ‘When I took office, I said I was keen to further strengthen transatlantic ties. This conversation was our first chance to get to know each other – a fine way to start things off.’

The two men spoke about the US-Dutch partnership in the coalition against ISIS. ‘We agree that a political solution in Iraq and Syria is the only sustainable option,’ said the foreign minister. Tomorrow, Mr Koenders and Mr Kerry will discuss the situation in the region further at a meeting in Brussels of the coalition against ISIS.

Another item on the agenda was the tensions between Russia and Ukraine. ‘Sanctions are effective and necessary, but they are not the end of the process. We must hold Russia to the terms of the Minsk agreements, and on that basis, engage with them to find a solution. To this end, further talks are essential,’ said Mr Koenders at the NATO-Ukraine Council this morning.

The ministers also talked about the aftermath of flight MH17, and Mr Kerry offered his condolences to the victims’ next of kin. ‘The summer of 2014 left a deep impression on the Netherlands and other countries,’ said Mr Koenders.