Dutch PM says planned Russia trade mission still on 'for now'

AMSTERDAM, March 18 Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:27am EDT

AMSTERDAM, March 18 (Reuters) - The Netherlands will not cancel a planned trade mission to Russia over the Crimea crisis unless the European Union decides on economic sanctions against Moscow, the Dutch prime minister said.

Mark Rutte said on a late-night talk show on Monday that Economics Minister Henk Kamp's trip in May with a number of Dutch oil and gas companies would go ahead as planned.

"For now the trip is on," Rutte said.

To date, the European Union has subjected 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials to visa restrictions and asset freezes for their roles in the seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.

Brussels has said more measures could follow in coming days if Russia does not back down and instead formally annexes Crimea.

"If the Russians do not reverse course, it could be that these sanctions need to be followed with economic sanctions. In that case, we will review whether such a (trade) trip would be appropriate," Rutte said.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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