AMSTERDAM - The Netherlands will send a top diplomat to Saudi Arabia to prevent the country from imposing trade sanctions in protest at anti-Islamic stickers printed in the colours of the Saudi flag by a Dutch far-right politician, the foreign ministry said.
The Saudi authorities have not announced any sanctions on the Netherlands, one of the Gulf Arab kingdom’s largest investors, but Saudi media reported this week that such measures had already taken effect, citing unnamed officials.
Dutch exports to Saudi Arabia are worth some 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) a year, according to the Dutch statistics office. Geert Wilders, the leader of the anti-immigration Dutch Freedom Party, had stickers bearing slogans derogatory to Islam printed in December as part of his campaign material.
A prominent far-right Eurosceptic who has attracted supporters as far afield as the United States, his party is leading in national opinion polls before European Parliament elections on Thursday.
“The Netherlands cannot be held responsible for the adolescent behaviour of a single parliamentarian,” Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said on Dutch broadcaster RTL.