THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ The Dutch government demanded an explanation from Britain for an official's allegation that some European nations aren't doing enough to maintain free navigation in the Persian Gulf.

In a Sunday interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., British Foreign Office Minister David Mellor said that a number of unnamed European nations were guilty of ''a form of escapism'' by trying to limit action on the gulf issue to the United Nations.

On Tuesday, Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek summoned British Ambassador Sir John Margetson to explain the comments.

Margetson met with Henri Wijnaends, a top ministry official, for about 45 minutes, said a Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity. He refused to say what the men discussed.

After the meeting, the British Embassy in The Hague refused to comment. But earlier Tuesday, an embassy spokesman, who asked not to be named, said: ''This whole thing has been very exaggerated.

''No reference has been made to any specific country, and it is wrong to assume that they (Mellor's remarks) are directed against any one country or the Netherlands,'' the spokesman said.

Mellor's comments came as the Dutch government sounded out members of the Western European Union on a U.N. diplomatic initiative to reach a cease-fire in the 7-year-old Iran-Iraq war.

The Netherlands is current chairman of the union, an informal diplomatic forum that also includes Britain, France, Belgium, West Germany, Italy and Luxembourg.

In the interview, Mellor said: ''We know full well that those countries that are putting forward those suggestions are doing nothing whatsoever in putting the case to the United Nations ... It is a form of escapism.''

Earlier this month, the Netherlands rejected an informal request by the Reagan administration to assist in clearing mines from the Persian Gulf. Washington has agreed to reflag and protect 11 Kuwaiti tankers from attacks by Iran, which accuses the emirate of siding with Iraq.

Britain announced last week it would send four advanced mine sweepers to the gulf to protect British shipping interests there. France has also dispatched mine sweepers to the region.

Van den Broek has repeatedly said his government preferred a cease-fire under U.N. auspices in the gulf war, although he hasn't ruled out other action to protect navigation there.