PM admits handling of Queen's Oman visit could have been better

8th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

During questions in parliament Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte admitted that the announcement that Queen Beatrix would be attending a private dinner in Oman could have been handled better.

A decision to cancel a state visit to the sultanate was announced last Wednesday, but on Friday an announcement was made that the queen would attend a dinner at the request of Sultan Qaboos instead.

In response to Labour MP Frans Timmermans's comments that parliament was wrong footed, Prime Minister Rutte said that was not the intention and could not have been helped as the two developments did not happen simultaneously. The private invitation attived shortly after the decision was taken to postpone the state visit, because of the unrest.

The prime minister said for the queen to turn down an invitation from a friendly head of state would be going "very far". He denied that there was any truth in reports that the private visit is linked to economic interests in the region. He told journalists, "The queen is not a travelling salesman".

Mr Timmermans pointed out that it is not clear to people in Oman that this is not an official state visit. He also noted that invitations are seldom sent without the knowledge that they will be accepted to avoid loss of face.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

0 Comments To This Article