Belgian king calls for urgent talks after PM's quit offer

24th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

King Albert II, who is mulling Prime Minister Yves Leterme's offer to quit, on Saturday asked Belgium's finance minister to launch urgent talks between feuding francophone and Flemish parties.

The monarch is seeking to solve a political crisis after Leterme was forced to throw in the towel Thursday after a key member of his five-party coalition, the Flemish liberal Open VLD, walked out.

He asked Finance Minister Didier Reynders "to insure, as soon as possible that the conditions are there for rapidly resuming negotiations on these institutional problems," and Reynders has accepted, the royal palace said in a statement.

The focal point in those talks would be the rights of francophone residents of Flemish suburbs of Brussels.

Open VLd leader Alexander De Croo pulled his party out of the coalition on Thursday frustrated by the lack of progress on the issue which is a flashpoint for the nation's broader inercommunal problems.

All parties are keen to avoid a prolonged political crisis, and embarrassment as Belgium prepares to assume the rotating EU presidency in July.

© 2010 AFP

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