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Churches in The Netherlands have joined the Dutch public in welcoming the engagement of the country's crown prince, Willem Alexander, to the daughter of Jorge Zorreguieta, a leading official in Argentina's military junta in the 1970s.

The engagement between Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Maxima Zorreguieta was announced by Queen Beatrix in a rare national television address on March 30.

Well before the announcement there was widespread speculation and concern that the former Argentinian government official might attend the royal wedding. But since Prime Minister Wim Kok announced, after the queen's address, that the bride's father had bowed to Dutch objections and had agreed to stay away from the ceremony, congratulations have been pouring in.

Wim Kok also said that the prince's bride-to-be, Maxima Zorreguieta, "whole-heartedly endorses" democratic values and principles.

In a statement, the Uniting Protestant Churches in The Netherlands, the biggest Protestant body here, welcomed the reassurances about the political views of "Maxima," as the press and public affectionately call her. The Uniting Churches also welcomed a statement from Ms. Zorreguieta about the 1970s government of General Jorge Rafael Videla, in which she referred to tortures, murders and "disappearances."

The marriage of the 33-year-old Protestant prince and his 29-year-old Catholic fiancée is expected to take place next year. They have been going out together for two years.

Since the first reports of the couple's romance, the nation has engaged in an emotional debate over whether Maxima's father should be allowed to attend his daughter's wedding.

Prime Minister Kok said that Jorge Zorreguieta had decided to stay away from the wedding after Kok explained "what ...

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"After Much Debate, Dutch Churches Welcome Royal Engagement"
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