Nepal Maoists urge PM to push India on jailed rebels
KATHMANDU, June 6: Nepal's Maoist rebels urged Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to seek the release of about 150 comrades jailed in India during his visit to the country beginning today.
It is Koirala's first trip abroad since he took power in April after weeks of street protests in the Himalayan nation forced King Gyanendra to restore parliament and end direct rule.
The rebels and the new multi-party government have since agreed to hold elections for a special assembly to prepare a new constitution that would decide the future of monarchy.
''The prime minister should take the initiative with Indian leaders to get our party leaders freed from jails,'' Dev Gurung, a senior Maoist leader, told Reuters.
Maoist rebels, who have been fighting for a communist state since 1996, often escape into India after crossing the porous border.
Many have been arrested by Indian police.
Koirala, 84, who arrives in New Delhi today, will hold talks with Indian government leaders including counterpart Manmohan Singh during his four-day visit.
Officials said that the Nepali leader is expected to seek further aid for one of the 10 poorest countries in the world.
India is a key aid donor and supplier of essential goods to the land-locked nation, whose aid and tourism-dependent economy has been wrecked by the fighting.
More than 13,000 people have died in the conflict.