Netherlands trade mission to Saudi Arabia definitely canceled

Sigrid Kaag
Sigrid Kaag. (Photo: Rijksoverheid)

A Dutch trade mission to Saudi Arabia in December will definitely not happen. Minister Sigrid Kaag of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation will not go to the country because of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Thursday, NU.nl reports.

Last week the government already said that it was "not reasonable" for Kaag to go on the trade mission, as Saudi Arabia did not give any openness about what happened to Khashoggi. Now that the country confirmed that the journalist is indeed dead, the trade mission is definitely canceled. Kaag was to visit the country from December 9th to 12th, with a large delegation of businesses in her retinue. 

Khashoggi, a journalist that was often critical of the Saudi regime, disappeared while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 3rd. After weeks of denial, the Saudi authorities declared last week that the journalist is no longer alive, saying he died in a fight. On Thursday the Saudi state broadcaster reported that the prosecutor in the country said that Khashoggi was killed with "premeditation". The body of the journalist has not yet been found. 

Last week Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Finance already canceled his attendance to a investors' conference in Riyadh.

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, supports the decision to cancel the trade mission, but D66 and SP believe that more should be done. According to the two parties, it is time to fundamentally review the relations between Europe and Sauid Arabia. They referred to the years of war in Yemen, where the Sauidis are trying to expel the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. At the insistence of the Netherlands, the United Nations conducted an investigation into the humanitarian situation in the country and concluded that Saudi Arabia is violating the law of war.

D66 parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma wants an EU arms embargo, Sadet Karabulut of the SP agrees.

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