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Dutch PM: Reagan helped unify Europe

Published on 07/06/2004

7 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has praised the work of former US president Ronald Reagan, who died of pneumonia on Saturday. The Dutch leader said Reagan helped end the Cold War and reunite a divided Europe. 

Speaking in France where he was attending D-Day commemorations, Balkenende said on Sunday that Reagan was an outstanding president who served during the fractured period of the Cold War and made a valuable contribution to ending the conflict between East and West.

Tributes have poured in for Reagan who died on Saturday at the age of 93 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Reagan was a “great president” who was “instrumental in bringing about the end of the Cold War”, BBC reported.

Reagan’s body will be flown to Washington on Wednesday. After a state funeral at the National Cathedral, his body will be flown back to California for a private sunset burial at the presidential library.

Meanwhile, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot — who met Reagan at Nato meetings — admitted on current affairs programme Buitenhof that he initially had not expected the former movie star to achieve very much during his term in office.

Bot said he was surprised to discover Reagan — who had a positive character and reputation — was different from his expectations. “He was not the president of the United States for nothing”, Bot told news agency ANP.

His admiration of Regan continued to grow and the experienced diplomat described the former US president as an impressive man with a clear vision.

Bot’s chief during the 1980s was former foreign minister Hans van den Broek, who described Reagan as a pure anti-communist. “A man that was deeply convinced that he had a mission to end communism in the Soviet Union,” Van den Broek said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news