Border French want unity with S Belgium if splits

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PARIS, Nov 10 (Reuters) Most French people in the region bordering Belgium would like to see France re-unite with Belgium's francophone region if the country breaks apart, according to an opinion poll published today.

Talks to form a new government in Belgium have dragged on for some 150 days since elections in June, and the absence of an agreement has prompted speculation that the country might split along linguistic fault lines.

A poll released before Sunday's publication of Le Journal du Dimanche said that 54 per cent of those questioned wanted the mainly French-speaking southern Belgian region of Wallonia incorporated into France if a breakup occurred.

The region was briefly absorbed into the French empire after the 1789 revolution, but it has few happy memories for France because it was there, at Waterloo, that Napoleon suffered his final defeat in 1815 by a British army and its German allies.

The land was subsequently attached to the Netherlands until modern Belgium took shape in 1830.

The Journal du Dimanche survey, carried out by Ifop pollsters, showed that 66 per cent of French people living along the border with Belgium wanted to see Wallonia become part of France against 53 per cent in the rest of the country.

Some 41 per cent were against the idea of unification and five percent declined comment.

REUTERS PJ HT2332

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