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The US Ambassador To The Netherlands Refused To Answer A Question In A Very Awkward Press Conference

"This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions."

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You may remember this senior American official who, shortly after he was confirmed as ambassador to the Netherlands, was confronted by a reporter over his 2015 remarks about "no-go zones" and "politicians being set on fire" in the Netherlands.

@Nieuwsuur to new US ambassador: "You mentioned [..] that there are no go-zones in the Netherlands and that cars an… https://t.co/HdsIWZVnMI

Pete Hoekstra, who was sworn in by US vice president Mike Pence on 12 December, told the reporter last year that he had never made such remarks, labeled them "fake news", and refused to answer the question.

Arriving in the Netherlands for his new post, he held a press conference with some Dutch journalists.

View this video on YouTube

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They had some questions. Well, just one actually. And it got awkward.

Washington Post / Via washingtonpost.com

The new ambassador was asked about his previous comments, telling reporters he had already made a statement. “I am not revisiting the issue,” he told the room.

Roel Geeraedts, with Dutch channel RTL Nieuws, followed up on the original question.He referenced a quote by John Adams, America’s first ambassador to Holland, who said he hope only “honest” men would serve in the position. “If you’re truly an honest and wise man, could you please take back the remark about burned politicians or name the politician that was burned in the Netherlands?” Geeraedts asked. Hoeskra again tried to avoid the question, responding: “Thank you.” Which obviously did not satisfy Geeraedts, who asked again.
John Thys / AFP / Getty Images

Roel Geeraedts, with Dutch channel RTL Nieuws, followed up on the original question.

He referenced a quote by John Adams, America’s first ambassador to Holland, who said he hope only “honest” men would serve in the position. “If you’re truly an honest and wise man, could you please take back the remark about burned politicians or name the politician that was burned in the Netherlands?” Geeraedts asked. Hoeskra again tried to avoid the question, responding: “Thank you.”

Which obviously did not satisfy Geeraedts, who asked again.

Then, another reporter asked for some specifics: “Can you mention any example of a Dutch politician who was burned in recent years?”

Washington Post / Via washingtonpost.com

And another: “Why don’t you answer the question?”

“This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions,” said yet another reporter.

Reporters asked Hoekstra to clarify, withdraw, or just comment on his "no go" remarks five times. He declined.

So far, the only comment the ambassador has given was posted on his Twitter on 23 December. In it, he stated: “I made certain remarks in 2015”. He added that he regretted the “exchange” with Nieuwsuur, and issued an apology.

Later on Thursday, the State Department distanced itself from Hoekstra's claims.

Hoekstra “is going to do a long form interview tomorrow with a Dutch outlet,” says State Department, to explain his… https://t.co/Mbm6ee3EQv

Asked directly if State agrees that Dutch politicians were burned, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein said “no, the State Department does not agree with those statements”

Goldstein also said that Hoekstra would be sitting down for a longer interview with a Dutch outlet, saying that as far as today's event goes “the Ambassador did not answer some of the questions that were asked of him, he recognizes that.”

John Hudson contributed reporting for this story from Washington, DC.

Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rose Troup Buchanan at Rose.Buchanan@BuzzFeed.com.

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