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UN envoy offers support to Nepal peace process

Written by: Staff

KATHMANDU, May 9: A top United Nations official met Nepal's new Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today and offered to help the Himalayan kingdom's efforts to end a decade-old Maoist insurgency in which thousands have died.

Tamrat Samuel, a special adviser to the UN's department for political affairs, met Koirala at his official residence in Kathmandu and conveyed Secretary General Kofi Annan's message.

''They (the UN) want to help Nepal establish peace,'' Suresh Chalise, Koirala's spokesman told reporters after the meeting.

''They want to know what can the UN do in this process.'' Samuel's visit came days after Nepal's new multi-party government matched a Maoist ceasefire and called the rebels for peace talks to which the guerrillas agreed. No date has been fixed for the first meeting.

Last month King Gyanendra bowed to weeks of often bloody protests in which at least 17 people were killed and thousands wounded, and handed power back to political parties.

Nepal's mainstream parties and the Maoist rebels, who entered into a deal in November to oust the king, are now preparing for elections to an assembly charged with writing a new constitution and deciding the monarchy's future.

The Maoists have been fighting since 1996 to set up communist rule in Nepal, but now say they are willing to accept the make-up of the assembly and the decisions it takes.

More than 13,000 people have died in the conflict that has also badly hurt Nepal's aid and tourism dependent economy.


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