Belgian king asks Socialist to try again to form government

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The Belgian king Wednesday asked Socialist leader Elio Di Rupo to try again to form a government and get the country out of a political crisis that has left it without a cabinet for 528 days.

Di Rupo on Monday offered his resignation to King Albert II after talks over forming a coalition government collapsed amid differences over budget cuts to counter the eurozone debt crisis.

On Wednesday the king met with Di Rupo and asked him to reconsider, the palace said in a statement.

"Before giving his answer.... (Di Rupo) asked for a brief pause for reflection to check on the chances of reaching a deal acceptable to the six parties" who have been struggling to agree on a new government, it said.

Belgium is currently being run by a caretaker government as it awaits a resolution of the longest political crisis in the country's history.

Hopes of an end to the crisis had risen last month after the feuding Flemish and French-speaking parties reached a deal on the thorniest issues, such as giving the regions more power and reforming the status of bilingual Brussels.

But the parties are now divided over how to slash the Belgian debt, leaving the country without a new government since elections in APril 2010.

The latest marathon talks collapsed at 2:00 am on Monday after Flemish and French-speaking centre-right parties rejected Di Rupo's plan to curb the public deficit, saying it relied too much on tax hikes and not enough on cuts.

© 2011 AFP

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