Belgium pens reassurances over political impasse

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BRUSSELS, Oct 7 (Reuters) Alarmed at international media speculation about lengthy Belgian efforts to form a government, the country's caretaker government has sent its ambassadors guidelines to reassure the outside world a new administration will be formed in due course.

This weekend Belgian politicians continued with a second attempt to form a government since the June general elections.

Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme is trying to persuade francophones to accept greater devolution of powers to the regions -- a step they are resisting for fear of losing out.

Some media outlets have speculated it may be the end of the road for the 177-year-old country known for its chocolates, beer and comic book reporter Tintin.

''Various offices have reported back with commentaries that are sometimes negative or critical concerning the political situation and the state of governmental talks in Belgium,'' Foreign Minister, Karel De Gucht, said in his letter.

''The current talks, which have passed the three-month mark, are indeed long but not really exceptional,'' De Gucht said.

Ambassadors could point out that countries like Austria and the Netherlands have taken time to form governments.

CARETAKER GOVERNMENT ''The caretaker government continues to ensure the normal and orderly functioning of the state,'' De Gucht said.

His spokesman said on Sunday that political uncertainty has had no impact on inward investment in the country of 10 million people.

''It's nothing that critical or alarming. The economic context is in a European context and not solely drawn by the federal Belgian government,'' the spokesman said.

De Gucht says compromise was a Belgian byword.

Some opinion polls have showed that many Belgians would support a break up of the country, but De Gucht suggested his ambassadors could point out how volatile polls can be.

They could also point out to the press that personal relations between the Flemish and French speaking people have never been affected by political developments, De Gucht added.

''It is obvious that our country will have a government in due course,'' De Gucht said.

REUTERS JK RK1736

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