UN team meets Nepal PM to discuss peace process
Nepal's Prime Minister told a visiting UN team on Monday that he would not allow the country's Maoist rebels to join his interim government unless they first laid down their weapons, officials said.
Prime Minister Koirala met on Monday with a high-level United Nations delegation led by Staffan de Mistura, who recently worked as the UN deputy envoy to Iraq.
De Mistura's team is in Nepal this week to try to determine what role the UN can play in forging a peace between the new government and Maoist rebels to end a decade-old insurgency.
"The prime minister said that unless the rebels dissociate from their weapons it was not possible to take them in the government," Koirala's spokesman Suresh Chalise told reporters after the meeting.
Koirala told the team that the process would only move ahead after rebels laid down their arms -- an issue that has proved to be a major obstacle to the nascent peace process.
Nepal's government has asked UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for help in ending the fighting. Both sides have agreed to UN supervision of an April ceasefire.
The rebels, however, have made it clear they are not willing to part with their guns.
De Mistura said after the meeting he told Koirala "there is urgency for having a clear idea of what and how UN can be of assistance.
He assured us he will be back with ideas. "The team would prepare a report that would decide the world body's involvement in Nepal's peace process," de Mistura said.
The rebels began fighting government troops in 1996 in a quest to set up a socialist state, and the conflict has killed more than 13,000 people.