Dutch rightist coalition talks resume: spokesman

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Negotiations to form a rightist Dutch coalition government backed by controversial anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders resumed Monday, 10 days after a first round floundered, a spokesman said.

"The negotiations resumed this afternoon at 3:30 pm (1330 GMT) in The Hague," Henk Brons, spokesman for an official appointed by the queen to lead the discussions, told AFP.

Wilders, who calls Islam fascist, on September 3 walked out of month-old negotiations on forming a coalition involving the centre-right, pro-business VVD that narrowly won June 9 elections and the Christian Democrat CDA.

Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) would remain outside of such a "minority government" but would provide the majority required to pass decisions through parliament on certain pre-agreed issues -- in return for a voice in policy formation.

The VVD and CDA together hold 52 seats in the 150-member Dutch parliament, and Wilders' PVV 24.

Wilders, who campaigns for stopping Muslim immigration and the construction of new mosques in order to halt "Islamisation" of the Netherlands, ended the previous round of talks saying he had lost trust in the CDA -- some of whose members had expressed publicly their concerns about cooperating with the PVV.

One of them, outgoing health minister Ab Klink, has since resigned his parliamentary post, prompting Wilders to reconsider his position.

Tjeenk Willink, an official appointed by Queen Beatrix, reported to her earlier on Monday that the negotiations can resume, having consulted all three parties.

The monarch then re-appointed Ivo Opstelten, who led the previous round of coalition talks, to "continue his investigation into the speedy creation of a cabinet of the VVD and CDA that can count on fruitful cooperation with the Dutch parliament with the backing of the PVV," said a statement from the monarchy.

Talks exploring the possibility of a centre-left coalition between the VVD, labour PvdA, green GroenLinks and centrist D66 failed in July over disagreements on economic policy.

© 2010 AFP

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