The Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands decided to proceed with her previously scheduled trip to Oman despite the fact that three Dutch military personnel are being held hostage in Libya. However, the status of the state visit was reduced to a private dinner on Tuesday night, not only because of the hostage situation, but also because of the unrest which is also taking place on Oman itself.
Queen Beatrix Persuading Oman to Pressure Libya
Diplomats have told journalists that the hope for this royal visit is that Queen Beatrix can persuade Oman to put pressure on Libya to release the Dutch helicopter crew which was captured by Libyan forces during their attempt to evacuate foreign citizens from the embattled nation. The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has been negotiating for their release since their capture on March 3rd. Two others whom the crew was trying to evacuate were also captured at that time, but they have since been released and are out of Libya.
The Prime Minister stated that, “It is terrible for the crew of the Lynx helicopter. Everything is being done to make sure the crew gets home.”
Dangerous Mission Near Gaddafi Stronghold of Sirtre
The crew was captured near the town of Sirtre, a main stronghold of Gaddafi in the center of the country as the revolt there continues to escalate. A military historian, Christ Klep, maintains that the rescue mission was a surprise because of the extreme danger of landing a helicopter near Sirte.
“It seems to suggest it may have been a diplomat, for instance, or somebody of special importance anyway,” he told Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
“I would have thought you would want to avoid stirring things up in Libya and not attract attention to yourself.
“There must have been a reason they were prepared to take this extra risk and it was a real risk because it’s essentially impossible to defend one of those Lynx helicopters.”
Crew Treated Well
Canceling the Queen’s visit to Oman was not considered, as one diplomat explained, ‘Canceling the visit would have been the most stupid thing we could have done.’
Hans Hillen, the Dutch defense minister told MPs that the crew is being treated properly and all are in good health. This information was transmitted to him by the Dutch ambassador to Libya who was allowed to visit the hostages who are being held in Tripoli. Mr. Hillen continued to say that the crew’s good treatment is a positive sign that there is every reason to hope for a satisfactory solution to the situation.