Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the government is doing everything it can to secure the release of three crew members of a Dutch Navy helicopter captured in Libya after a failed evacuation attempt.
“We are doing our utmost to get them back, using any diplomatic angle we can,” Rutte, who authorized the evacuation mission, told reporters in The Hague today. “Anything further I say about this may lead to possible difficulty during the process to repatriate them.”
Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi captured three crew members of the Lynx helicopter as they tried to evacuate a Dutch citizen and another European near the central coastal city of Sirte. The two evacuees were brought to the Dutch embassy in Tripoli and have left the country, where pro- Qaddafi forces are seeking to put down a popular revolt.
Dutch broadcaster NOS yesterday showed a Libyan state television video of the Navy helicopter on a beach and the crew members, one of whom is identifiable as a woman. The Dutch government has given confidential information about the matter to party leaders in parliament, news agency ANP said.
The government said it’s in “intensive diplomatic talks” with Libya about releasing the helicopter crew, who flew to the country’s coast on Feb. 27 from Dutch navy ship HNLMS Tromp. The identity of the crew members hasn’t been released.
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