Talks between the two rivals charged with governing Czechoslovakia broke up without agreement on how to keep the country from splitting apart.
"The federation is lost," Vaclav Klaus, the federal finance minister tapped as premier in elections last weekend, told reporters after meeting with Slovak leader Vladimir Meciar.
The outcome of the talks bodes ill for President Vaclav Havel, who indicated June 8 that he would not stand for re-election by the new federal parliament if Czechoslovakia headed for a split.
Bohuslav Geci, a spokesman for Mr. Meciar, noted serious disagreements between the two parties on the constitutional setup of the country.
"The talks revealed deep and fundamental differences ... on the future structure of Czechoslovakia," said Mr. Klaus, a Czech.
Meciar's party led the voting in Slovakia, the poorer, eastern third of the country.
Meciar said there would be further talks June 11 on the new federal Cabinet.