Foreign minister Stef Blok to visit Australia and Malaysia for MH17 consultations

Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok will visit Australia and Malaysia this week (27 and 28 March), travelling first to Sydney and Canberra, and then to Kuala Lumpur. The visit will focus mainly on the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The Netherlands, Australia and Malaysia suffered the most casualties in the air disaster. Mr Blok will speak with the victims’ next of kin and with staff of Malaysia Airlines, and he will lay a commemorative wreath at the MH17 memorial plaque in Canberra. He will also meet his counterparts in both countries to discuss the ongoing criminal investigation and the decision by Australia and the Netherlands to hold Russia responsible for its part in the tragedy.

17 July 2019 will mark the fifth anniversary of the downing of flight MH17, which was en route from Amsterdam to Malaysia. ‘It’s a sombre anniversary, and one that forces us to face facts,’ Mr Blok observed. ‘I want to stress: we will not rest until we have uncovered the truth surrounding the downing of flight MH17 and achieved justice for the victims and next of kin. To that end, the collaboration with our partners, such as Malaysia and Australia, is extremely important.’

In his meetings with his fellow ministers, Mr Blok will broach a range of foreign policy issues, such as international cooperation on counterterrorism, not least in the light of the recent attacks in Utrecht and in Christchurch, New Zealand. China’s role on the world stage is another key topic on the agenda, as is Brexit and recent developments in Afghanistan. Mr Blok will also be devoting attention to the business community and the Netherlands’ close economic ties with both countries.

The last time a Dutch foreign minister visited Australia was during the Dutch state visit in 2016. Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited Malaysia in 2014 to discuss joint efforts in the wake of the MH17 tragedy.