Encouraged by signals from Nepal's government and Maoists that they want to build mutual understanding and peace, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed a new envoy to spearhead the world body's efforts to promote peace in the Himalayan country.
Ian Martin, a seasoned diplomat and human rights activist, has been named by Annan as personal representative in Nepal for supporting the peace process.
Martin, who assumes the post immediately, will conduct intensive discussions with Nepal's key actors and will be assisted by a small multi-disciplinary team of UN officials.
Earlier this month the Nepalese Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had sent identical letters requesting UN help in areas ranging from human rights monitoring, electoral observation and management of arms and armed personnel.
Noting that he was encouraged to receive those letters, Annan said he believes it is now urgent to undertake follow-on consultations with all concerned parties in Nepal in order to build on the common understanding that now exists, so that detailed planning for UN assistance may proceed.
The appointment follows the recent week-long UN assessment mission to Nepal, where a ceasefire is in place after a 10-year conflict that has killed some 15,000 people.