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Dutch Premier Predicts 'Months' Of Talks Over EU-Ukraine Pact

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (file photo)

The Dutch vote against an agreement to strengthen ties between the European Union and Ukraine could lead to lengthy negotiations over changes in the pact, the Netherlands' premier said.

"It could be months before a solution will be found," since many different parties are involved, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told the Dutch news agency ANP on April 8.

"It's a complex process. It's uncharted waters," he later told a press conference at the Hague.

Dutch voters by 61 percent to 38 percent rejected the pact with Ukraine on April 6, though only 32 percent of eligible voters participated in the referendum.

The vote was not legally binding, so the Dutch government is not required to follow the preference of voters. But Rutte has said he cannot ignore the overwhelmingly negative sentiment.

Still, experts expect large parts of the agreement to be implemented without the Netherlands or with negotiated changes. The EU's 27 other members have ratified the pact and it went into effect in January.

The Dutch parliament, which originally ratified the pact, will revisit the issue next week and should take the vote into account, Rutte said.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP