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Dutch political leaders meet to resolve stalled coalition talks

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By AP
Caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a debate in parliament in The Hague.
Caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a debate in parliament in The Hague.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File
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Dutch political party leaders met on Wednesday in an effort to force a breakthrough in deadlocked coalition talks.

Negotiations to form a new ruling coalition have stalled more than six months after a general election left a deeply divided parliament.

Attempts to form a majority or minority coalition to succeed the outgoing government of caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte have so far failed.

Wednesday's fresh meeting in the Hague also comes amid speculation that a new election may be needed to break the impasse.

"Our country urgently needs a new Cabinet," Johan Remkes, the official steering the talks, wrote in his invitation to nine party leaders.

"In view of the time that has passed since the March 17 elections, the time has really come for ... all parties from the broad and constructive center to take responsibility."

A total of 17 parties from across the political spectrum won seats in the lower house of the Dutch parliament in the March elections.

Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy emerged as the largest party, followed by the centrist D66 party led by former foreign minister Sigrid Kaag.

The most recent round of failed negotiations focused on a minority coalition of those two parties together with the Dutch Christian Democrats and Christian Union.

Kaag long ruled out joining a coalition with the Christian Union party due to ideological differences but lifted that blockade in recent days in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

Rutte’s current four-party coalition quit in January to take political responsibility for a scandal in which the country’s tax authorities wrongly labeled families claiming child welfare payments as fraudsters.