Updated: Saturday, 11 January 2014 02:42 | By Agence France-Presse

Dutch king, PM to attend Sochi Olympics

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte will attend the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics, despite calls to boycott the event over Moscow's human rights record.


Dutch king, PM to attend Sochi Olympics

Dutch King Willem-Alexander (R) and Queen Maxima (L) arrive at the Circus Theatre for the celebrations marking the 200-year anniversary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in Scheveningen, on November 30, 2013

"We don't see the point in a boycott. We believe it's better to have a dialogue," Rutte told a weekly press conference.

The Netherlands and Russia had a turbulent 2013 which was supposed to be a year of celebrating three centuries of good relations but which turned into a diplomatic nightmare.

Lowlights included a Dutch police assault on an allegedly drunken Russian diplomat and Russia arresting 30 Greenpeace activists protesting Arctic oil drilling.

Gay rights activists in April staged a massive protest in Amsterdam against President Vladimir Putin's visit to protest anti-gay legislation.

"We have repeatedly voiced our concerns over the human rights situation in Russia and we will continue to do so," Rutte said ahead of Russia hosting its first post-Soviet Games in Sochi next month.

"Our primary reason for being there is to encourage the Dutch team," he added.

Rutte and Willem-Alexander, an honorary International Olympic Committee member, will be accompanied by Willem-Alexander's wife Maxima and Sports Minister Edith Schippers.

Rights group Amnesty International on Friday demanded that the "Dutch government concretely indicate how it planned to take up the issue of human rights when attending the Sochi opening."

A number of countries including the United States, France, Germany and Britain have indicated that their top leaders would not attend the Winter Olympics' opening ceremony on February 7.

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