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Chinese official urges Nepal unity, blockade holds

Written by: Staff

Kathmandu, Mar 17: A top Chinese official called today (Mar 17, 2006) for talks between Nepal's warring political parties and King Gyanendra as a crippling Maoist blockade kept vehicles off the roads for a fourth day.

The call from China's state councillor Tang Jiaxuan, the highest ranking Chinese official to visit Nepal since the king seized power last year, came after his meeting with the main political groups demanding the restoration of democracy.

Tang, who had separate meetings with Girija Prasad Koirala, chief of the biggest political party, Nepali Congress, and Amrit Kumar Bohara of the Communist Party of Nepal-UML, was due to meet King Gyanendra later today.

''We sincerely hope that all constitutional forces in Nepal will set store by the fundamental interest of the country and people, and seek to appropriately settle the current difficulties and problems through dialogues,'' Tang told a gathering of politicians and diplomats.

Police and residents said there was little panic despite the Maoist blockade that has all but emptied roads since Tuesday, pushed up prices of essential goods and hurt businesses in one of the world's 10 poorest countries.

The Maoists have called for the blockade to press the king to restore democracy.

Beijing disowns the Maoists, who want to set up a single party communist republic in the world's only Hindu kingdom.

Tang stressed peace and stability in Nepal where the Maoist conflict has left more than 13,000 people dead.

''A Nepal of peace, reconciliation and amity, enjoying stability, development and prosperity serves the fundamental interests of its people and will promote regional peace, stability and development,'' he said.

Analysts said Nepal's royalist government was reaching out to China to show that it was not isolated after the royal takeover.

Nepal's southern neighbour India, the United States and Britain suspended arms supplies after the takeover, which King Gyanendra justified as necessary to quell the revolt.

Last year, Beijing provided 18 truckloads of military assistance worth about 1 million dollars to Nepal's army to fight the insurgency, media reports said.

Diplomats say the political turmoil and the insurgency, if not resolved quickly, could turn Nepal into a dangerous zone of instability.


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