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Nepali leaders to resume peace talks

Top leaders of the ruling Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Maoists are to resume stalled peace talks on Monday.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2006 22:24 IST

Top leaders of the ruling Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Maoists are to resume stalled peace talks on Monday, Nepal Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula told mediapersons on Sunday.

The talks have been stalled over the fate of the monarchy and arms management. It is hoped that the talks will result in a peace agreement paving the way for Maoists to join the proposed interim government.

Sitaula was speaking after a meeting attended by Nepalese Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, top Maoist leaders Prachanda and Babu Ram Bhattarai and Ian Martin, the chief of the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Nepal.

Sitaula said, "We have agreed on most of the political issues and the few that are left will be addressed tomorrow."

The meeting was held at the prime minister's official residence and centred on arms management over which there were still some differences, political sources said.

They said Martin had made some proposals on arms management—details of which were not immediately available.

Speaking earlier on Sunday in Pokhara, mid-western Nepal, Maoist chief Prachanda said an agreement had been reached with the government on arms management.

Accordingly, arms of the Maoist army should be locked up with the Maoist leadership retaining the key, he said.

The UN would monitor the arms via an 'alarm system', which would alert UN officials as soon as anyone tried to unlock them.

The sources said the fate of the monarchy would be decided in the first sitting of the constituent assembly elections, which would be held by mid-June 2007.

But the communists United Marxist-Leninists (UML), a major party in the SPA, wants a referendum to be held as well as the constituent assembly elections.

Nepali Congress, the main party in the SPA, says a referendum would divide the country and give the king another chance to become active on the basis of the votes from the people.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht, who is presently visiting Nepal, reportedly told Koirala that a referendum would be 'counter-productive' and could lead to the disintegration in the country, according to the prime minister's international affairs adviser, Suresh Chalise.

First Published: Nov 05, 2006 22:24 IST