Trump's ambassador to Netherlands in 'fake news' blunder

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Media caption,

Pete Hoekstra tripped himself up on Dutch TV

The new US ambassador to the Netherlands has been caught out on Dutch television after a journalist quizzed him about comments he had made about Islamic extremism in the country.

Pete Hoekstra denied he had ever said there were "no-go zones" in the Netherlands, calling it "fake news".

But the Dutch journalist showed him a clip of the comments from 2015.

The Trump appointee then appeared to deny the "fake news" term he had used earlier in the interview.

The exchange left Wouter Zwart, US correspondent for Dutch broadcaster NOS, visibly confused in the short clip that has been widely shared on social media.

The exchange:

Zwart: Speaking of threat, at one point you mentioned in a debate that there are no-go zones in the Netherlands and that cars and politicians are being set on fire.

Mr Hoekstra: I didn't say that. That is actually an incorrect statement. Yeah, we would call it fake news.

Zwart: Is that fake news? Because that's what you really said.

Mr Hoekstra: No, it's not what I said.

Mr Hoekstra (on archive video): The Islamic movement has now got to the point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned. And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.

Zwart: You called it fake news, obviously... (is interrupted)

Mr Hoekstra: I didn't call that fake news, I didn't use the words today.

Zwart: No?

Mr Hoekstra: No. I don't think I did.

The former Republican congressman was sworn in by Vice-President Mike Pence on 11 December after being nominated earlier this year by President Donald Trump.

He takes up his post next month but has already prompted jokes at the heart of the Dutch government. Prime Minister Mark Rutte suggested to reporters that Pete Hoekstra might be related to Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra, before quickly denying it.

"It's true that he's coming but it's fake news that he's a relative of the finance minister. I've just spread that so I also take it back," he said.

Pete Hoekstra was born in Groningen in the Netherlands but moved to the United States with his family when he was three.

He served in Michigan from 1993 to 2011, and is also a former chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

The interview was an excerpt from a longer profile piece on the new ambassador by the current affairs programme Nieuwsuur (Newshour).