Trump calls PM Rutte a "friend"

Prime Minister Mark Rutte met with United States president Donald Trump for the second time on Thursday in the White House in Washington. During a brief press conference at the Oval Office, Trump emphasized the good economic ties between the two countries and his good relationship with Rutte, calling him a friend.

"We have become friends over the last couple of years. We've had a lot of good conversations, we're dealing on trade, we're dealing on military, we're dealing on intelligence. The relationship has never been better", Trump said. 

The American president said that more than a million jobs in the United States are connected to the Netherlands, directly or indirectly. Rutte responded that a quarter of a million jobs in the Netherlands is connected to the U.S. and that should be increased.

After that the American press focussed on local issues, such as Trump saying on Twitter that four congresswomen of color should go back to their own countries. And Trump's audience at a rally chanting "send her home, send her home". 

The meeting with Trump forms part of a Dutch trade mission to Boston. Ministers Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs and Bruno Bruins for Medical Care are also in the US for this. Blok participated in a summit on religious freedom.

Another part of the meeting with Trump on Thursday was to give Rotterdam collector Bert Kreuk the opportunity to personally hand over the first American flag to land in Normandy on D-Day to the president. Kreuk bought the flag at an auction in 2016 and decided to donate it to the American people.

"It is my honor to welcome this great American flag back home where it belongs", Trump said.  He thanked everyone involved in bringing the flag to the States, including Kreuk himself. 

Rutte and Kreuk were also given opportunity to speak. "This flag is a symbol of that which can not be expressed in words" Rutte said. "The first American flag to reach the coast of Normandy, where it was hit by enemy fire like all those allied soldiers. This flag survived, and it prevailed. And thanks to Mr. Bert Kreuk who became its owner, we stand here today to bring it back to you." Rutte called the flag a symbol of the unique bond between the US and Europe, and between the US and the Netherlands. "Our countries stand shoulder to shoulder when times are tough."

Kreuk spoke about the American soldiers who faced certain death at Normandy to bring freedom to Europe and the Netherlands. "As beneficiaries of their heroism we grow up and live in democratic and free societies." He called the flag a "symbol of inclusiveness that unites us with the knowledge that their sacrifices were made for all of us". "There are not enough words to honor our heroes or remember victims of war", he said. Now he retires from his duty as custodian of this piece of American history with the only inevitable conclusion, he said. "To donate the flag to its rightful place, the United States of America."

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