BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The government is trying to head off the sale of about 130 works by Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte to foreign museums and collectors.

Finance Minister Mark Eyskens has approved the creation of a non-profit group that will collect funds to purchase works by Magritte that were left to Belgians after Magritte's widow, Georgette, died Feb. 26. The painter died in 1967.

In his will, Magritte left 15 of his works to museums in Brussels, Paris and his native city of Charleroi. His widow willed another 130 works to relatives who face inheritance taxes this year of as high as 75 percent.

The value of the 130 works is estimated at more than $2 million. The high taxes their owners face have raised concern that many works may be sold to foreigners.

Belgium's French-language regional government has said it is ready to pay at least $1.8 million for the purchase of the Magritte paintings.