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Dutch News
Time for decisions in coalition talks 1/24/2007
24 January 2007

AMSTERDAM - Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said that the coalition talks are entering the decisive phase.

"It is going to be an important week," he said on Tuesday.

Prospective coalition members Christian Democrat CDA, Labour PvdA and the ChristenUnie have worked out an outline for the financial framework, say insiders, but will have to reach agreement in the coming days on politically sensitive topics like the financing of the old age pension system, mortgage interest relief and healthcare.

The talks resumed on Wednesday this week at the prime minister''s office ''Catshuis'' in The Hague to facilitate consultation with the factions on tough issues.

It''s time for decisions to be made, say sources close to the talks. Otherwise it will be difficult to have a government in time for the Provincial States elections on 7 March.

Balkenende (CDA), Wouter Bos (PvdA) and Andre Rouvoet (ChristenUnie) gave their factions in parliament an outline on Tuesday of what had been achieved in the formation process so far.

Several PvdA MPs had expressed annoyance recently at the radio silence on the part of the party leaders.

The talks these days will be tough, say sources at the various parties. However friendly the CDA may suddenly seem, it is taking a firm position in the negotiations, said one source in the PvdA.

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