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Harper meets with Dutch PM on eve of G7 summit on eastern European crisis

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Stephen Harper is in the Netherlands, meeting with the Dutch prime minister on the eve of an emergency G7 summit on the crisis in eastern Europe.

The prime minister sat down with his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte, at Catshuis, the official prime ministerial residence that now serves mostly as a meeting house.

Their discussions largely focused on trade, in particular Canada’s trade deal with the European Union.

It’s the G7 meeting, however, that is top of mind for the Canadian delegation following Harper’s visit to Kyiv on Saturday.

The G7 leaders will hold their summit at Catshuis on Monday evening, when they’ll discuss what to do about Russia in the midst of the biggest crisis in eastern Europe since the Cold War.

Harper is set to deliver a first-hand account of his meetings in Ukraine with its new leadership.

He’s also pushing for a much tougher response to Russia’s actions from his G7 colleagues, suggesting this weekend in Kyiv that the Russians should be booted from the G8.

Harper has also called for a “complete reversal” of Russia’s actions in Crimea. Russia formally annexed Crimea on Friday, and violence erupted there on Saturday as pro-Russian forces stormed a Ukrainian air force base.

Russian forces have been seizing Ukrainian military facilities for several days in the Black Sea peninsula, which voted a week ago to secede and join Russia.

Some fear Russian President Vladimir Putin has designs on other former Soviet bloc nations as well.

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