Dutch Liberal leader Rutte meets with Queen

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Dutch Liberal leader Mark Rutte met with head of state Queen Beatrix on Friday in The Hague to discuss "complicated" coalition talks, the government information service said.

Rutte, whose party secured a one-seat victory in Wednesday's elections, went to the palace at 9:30 am (0730 GMT) and met with the head of state for an hour and a quarter.

Questioned by media on whether Queen Beatrix had asked him if he was a candidate for the post of prime minister, traditionally held by the head of the party with the most seats after an election, Rutte told journalists: "Of course".

The 43-year-old acknowledged that the political situation was "very complicated", but said "we must form a government".

Rutte's Liberal (VVD) party will be the biggest party in the Dutch lower house after securing 31 out of 150 seats in Wednesday's poll.

Queen Beatrix will also meet the other party chiefs, notably Labour (PvdA) leader Job Cohen, whose party won 30 seats, and Geert Wilders, whose far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) took 24 seats after a strong showing.

The monarch will appoint an envoy to communicate among the parties. Negotiations are expected to take weeks, if not months.

Political analysts say there are a number of different possible coalitions. The Liberals could form an alliance with the Christian Democrats (CDA) and either the anti-Islam PVV or Labour.

Alternatively, a coalition could be formed with Labour, the Greens and the centrist D66, but the chances of this were described as "remote" by Rutte, in comments in De Telegraaf newspaper Friday.

The election was triggered after the collapse of the centre-left coalition led by Jan Peter Balkenende of the Christian Democrats, caused by disagreements over the presence of Dutch troops in Afghanistan.

© 2010 AFP

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