Belgian King Calls for National Unity

BRUSSELS -- Belgium's King Albert issued a plea for unity on Sunday in a televised message on the eve of the country's national day as political leaders seek a solution to a crisis dividing Dutch- and French-speaking regions.

"We must invent new ways to live together in our country," the monarch said in a broadcast speech before Monday's holiday.

Last week the monarch rejected Prime Minister Yves Leterme's resignation, submitted after less than four months in office, and appointed a group of wise men to help bring about talks on power-sharing between the feuding linguistic communities.

Leterme had failed to broker a deal between the two regions by a mid-July deadline, plunging the 177-year-old country into a fresh political crisis and renewing speculation it may split.

Leterme's Flemish Christian Democrats were the winners of the federal election in June 2007 on a pledge to transfer some federal powers to regions.