Belgian government at the brink

Prime Minister Wilfried Martens offered his government's resignation Tuesday and King Baudouin held an unprecedented meeting of political, trade union, and industry leaders to discuss Belgium's latest political crisis.

The monarch said he wanted an end to the political instability, which has given Belgium seven governments in seven years. "It is impossible to conduct affairs under these conditions," he said.

Mr. Martens offered to step down after failing to heal a split on economic policy in his Socialist-Social Christian Cabinet. The King's decision to accept the resignation or ask Mr. Martens to stay on was not due before today (April 1 ).

King Baudouin told the gathering that economic problems were leading to a deterioration of the economic fabric of Belgium, threatening the well-being of the people and of the country.

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