United States ‘an indispensable partner in tackling crises on Europe’s periphery’

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders has described the United States as ‘an indispensable partner in tackling the crises we face on Europe’s periphery.’ Speaking after meeting his US counterpart Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, he said that cooperation with the United States was ‘crucial in dealing with the challenges in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Libya’.

Mr Koenders and Mr Kerry agreed on the need to keep up the pressure on Russia to comply with the Minsk Agreements. ‘Until then,’ Mr Koenders said, ‘there can be no easing of sanctions. In the current circumstances, “business as usual” is impossible.’ The minister stressed, however, that it is important to continue the dialogue with Russia in order to prevent any escalation. He also underlined the importance of the United States and Europe maintaining a united front.

The ministers also discussed the work being done to deal with the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy. Mr Koenders said that international support had been indispensable in these efforts. ‘We are working well with the US, and remain in constant contact with each another’.

Joint action

Mr Koenders said that the same applied to the struggle against ISIS. ‘The Netherlands and the US are taking joint action in this respect too. The approach of the anti-ISIS coalition is bearing fruit. ISIS has suffered substantial setbacks. It’s also important to stop new combatants from joining ISIS. The Netherlands is leading the debate within this coalition on the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, together with Turkey. At the same time we must continue to work on a political solution to the conflict in Syria and on strengthening democratic structures in Iraq.’

The ministers also looked ahead to the official visit to the United States by the Dutch King and Queen at the start of June. ‘It’s good to stop and reflect on the 70th anniversary of our country’s liberation and the enormous sacrifices made by the US for the sake of our freedom,’ Mr Koenders said. ‘The visit will reinforce the strong relationship between our two countries and further strengthen our economic ties’.