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Nepal PM, Maoist chief to hold peace talks

The government said it was determined to iron out its differences with the rebels.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2006 21:52 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Nepal's premier and the leader of the country's Maoist rebels meet this week for what both sides hope will be breakthrough peace talks paving the way for the guerrillas to join an interim government, officials said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist rebel chief Prachanda are to hold the talks on Thursday in the capital Kathmandu, officials said.

The government said it was determined to iron out its differences with the rebels. The Himalayan kingdom has been racked by a decade of Maoist insurgency.

"The top leaders of the seven parties decided at a meeting Monday to reach an agreement with the Maoists on key political issues during the upcoming higher-level talks," Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said.

"We're optimistic we'll reach an agreement on the issues regarding formation of an interim government," said Maoist leader Dinanath Sharma.

Koirala and Prachanda have held just one formal meeting since mass protests in April forced King Gyanendra to give up absolute rule and restore parliament.

It was announced at that meeting in June that the seven-party interim government would be scrapped and a new administration formed to include the rebels.

The government said the discussions had been "crucial in developing mutual trust" between the two sides.

"The government is hopeful the talks will sort out all contentious political issues to be included in the draft constitution," said Sitaula, the coordinator of the government talks team.

First Published: Sep 26, 2006 21:52 IST