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Dutch PM thanks Aust for MH17 assistance

The Dutch prime minister has heaped praise on Australian officials for their work in the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy.

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Mark Rutte visited the headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra on Friday with Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Both leaders personally thanked staff who played a role after a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over Ukraine in July by Russian-backed separatists.

On board were 196 Dutch citizens and 38 Australians.

Mr Rutte praised the team work of Australian and Dutch officials.

“I salute your professionalism,” he told DFAT staff, a sentiment echoed by Mr Abbott.

“It was a textbook case of how the Australian government can effectively and efficiently leap into action at our country’s need and call,” he said.

Mr Rutte hopes to reunite the remains of all victims with their loved ones, but acknowledged that might not be possible.

“We are not sure we will be able to do that, but we will do everything in our power,” he said.

One silver lining from the tragedy was a closer friendship between Australia and the Netherlands, Mr Rutte said.

Mr Abbott said there was still other unfinished business because the perpetrators had yet to be brought to justice.

The prime minister is understood to be seeking a one-on-one meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin when both leaders attend the annual APEC leaders summit in China next week.

Later on Friday, Mr Abbott and Mr Rutte will plant a tree at the National Arboretum in Canberra with ACT chief minister Katy Gallagher.

Mr Rutte will then travel to Sydney, where he has business engagements before wrapping up his two-day visit to Australia.

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