Dutch Ambassador to China suspended amid reported affair with Chinese staff

THE HAGUE (AFP) - The Dutch Ambassador to China has been suspended from duty following a complaint, with newspapers reporting that he was having an affair with a Chinese employee.

Mr Ron Keller, a former ambassador to Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, has been suspended "for the duration of the investigation", a Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed to AFP in an e-mail on Monday (Oct 17), without detailing the allegations against him.

"In order to handle the complaint properly, the ministry cannot make any extra comment about the investigation for the moment," he added.

According to the tabloid De Telegraaf which broke the story, Mr Keller, 58, has been having an affair with a Chinese woman working at the embassy in Beijing.

He "met her several times in his residence, an imposing and guarded accommodation, after the two exchanged nude photographs", the popular daily said.

"Even though he is not married, having an affair with a resident of the country where he is representing the Netherlands places him in a vulnerable position," the paper added.

According to the respected Volkskrant, Mr Keller had exposed himself "to possible blackmail" as the Chinese government was "paying the salary of the woman suspected of receiving the ambassador's affections".

Mr Keller is currently in the Netherlands and the Foreign Ministry said it had decided "that the ambassador should not be active in his post during the investigation".