Peter Hoekstra, the new US ambassador to the Netherlands, held his first news conference with Dutch media on January 10, facing questions over his unsubstantiated 2015 claim about the chaos the "Islamic movement" had brought to the country. "There are politicians that are being burned. and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands".
After the interview, Mr. Hoekstra, who was born in the Netherlands but moved to the United States as a child, said in a statement that he had "made certain remarks" in 2015 and expressed "regret" for the exchange with Mr. Zwart.
On Wednesday, Hoekstra dug himself into an even deeper hole at a Dutch press conference marking the beginning of his ambassadorship, when reporters asked again for him to clarify: "Are politicians being burned in the Netherlands?"
"This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions", one reporter maintained, according to the outlet. Are politicians being burned in the Netherlands in the past?
On Wednesday, despite being repeatedly asked at a heated news conference at his residence in The Hague, Hoekstra refused to say whether he still stood by his views.
After Hoekstra had presented his credentials to the Dutch king in the Hague on Wednesday, the former congressman told reporters that he would be "moving on" from the controversy over his remarks.
"We were all astonished that he didn't want to take back the comment".
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Hoekstra has been in hot water in the Netherlands for the remarks since he was first confronted by a Dutch journalist, Wouter Zwart, in December. One asked Hoekstra if he would be visiting "our no-go areas".
Video of the freakish exchange, juxtaposed with his "no-go zone" remarks, went viral, and the episode drew a slew of critical headlines in the United States and the Netherlands.
When Zwart pointed to a 2015 video that shows Hoekstra making the comments, Hoekstra than denied his denial, saying, "I never called that fake news".
"I'm not revisiting the issue", Hoekstra said, when asked if he still believed his 2015 comments. Moments later, he denied that he had called them fake news.
He later apologized, saying in a tweet on December 23: "I made certain remarks in 2015 and regret the exchange during the Nieuwsuur interview".
Hoekstra served as a Congressman from 1993 to 2011.
"The Ambassador did not answer some of the questions that were asked of him". He said Hoekstra also was expected to visit various Dutch communities over the weekend, including Muslim communities.