Reuters International

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Talks between Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's conservative VVD Party and three other parties to form a centrist coalition broke down on Monday over a failure to agree on immigration policy, the official overseeing talks said.

Rutte's VVD emerged as the largest after the March 15 election, in which immigration and the country's relationship with the European Union were major themes.

The VVD and another conservative party, the Christian Democrats, had been in talks with the centrist D-66 party and the Green Left party, which had never before participated in a government but booked strong gains in the poll.

"It didn't work," Edith Schippers told reporters in the Hague. "The talks between the ...(parties) are over and will not lead to a new cabinet."

Rutte's party must now investigate alternatives.

A more conservative coalition between the VVD, Christian Democrats, D-66 and the ChristenUnie, a socially conservative but economically progressive party, would achieve a small majority in parliament and is widely seen as the most likely to be investigated next.

The breakdown is likely to set back the formation of a government by months.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Alison Williams)

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