Former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers dead at 78

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Dutch statesman Ruud Lubbers, who served as the country’s prime minister for more than a decade and later worked for the United Nations (UN), has died in Rotterdam, the government says. He was 78 years old.

Lubbers passed away on Wednesday while surrounded by his wife Ria and his children in Rotterdam, according to a brief statement from the government’s information service. It provided no details about the cause of death.

Lubbers, of the conservative Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) party, was the country’s longest-serving prime minister, from 1982 until 1994. He served at a time when the Netherlands played an important role in shaping the European Union.

“The Netherlands has lost a statesman with a large stature,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a statement. “As the longest-serving prime minister in our history, he guided the Netherlands in the 80s through an extremely difficult economic period.”

Lubbers was given the honorary title Minister of State by Queen Beatrix in January 1995.

Lubbers also served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2001, but his international reputation took a hit when a colleague accused him of improperly touching her during a meeting in Geneva, forcing him to resign in 2005. He denied the allegation.

In later years, Lubbers was asked to help form coalition governments in 2006 and 2010.

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