A diplomatic row over a Turkish boy adopted by a Dutch lesbian couple clouded a visit to the Netherlands by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan aimed at strengthening ties.
Erdogan met Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte to discuss economic and political co-operation, but the squabble over the fate of nine-year-old Yunus overshadowed the talks.
The issue even threatened to eclipse a historic Kurdish rebel ceasefire announcement in Turkey, after reported attempts by Ankara to reunite Yunus, adopted by the lesbian couple as a baby, with his biological Turkish mother.
Erdogan said non-governmental organisations in the Netherlands should get involved to "ensure that children are placed within a situation they have been used to before", referring to foster children with an Islamic background. He called for the issue to be taken up at ministerial level between Ankara and The Hague.
Rutte immediately shot down the suggestion. "The placing of Dutch foster children is the sole responsibility of the Dutch government, of nobody else," Rutte said after talks with Erdogan earlier in the day which included the fracas around Yunus.
"For this reason I'm against having the issue taken up at a ministerial level," he said.
Rutte said the Netherlands had children's best interests at heart when placing them into foster care but it was not always possible to give them a home with a similar background.
Therefore "ultimately no distinction is made based on sexual orientation or religion", when children are placed out, Rutte said. "It would be good, seen from a different angle, if there were more Islamic families in the Netherlands willing to take foster children from an Islamic background," he added.
Dutch newspapers reported last week that the lesbian couple had gone into hiding because of attempts in Turkey to have Yunus returned and reported disquiet in the Turkish community.
Dutch Deputy Premier Lodewijk Asscher yesterday called any interference by a "foreign power" based on religion or sexual orientation "presumptuous".
Yunus, who is a Dutch citizen, was adopted by the Hague-based couple when he was four months old, but the biological mother who gave him up told Dutch media she now wanted him back, with reports saying she enlisted Ankara's support.