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March 28, 2003
 
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Nepal Gov't, Rebels to Hold Peace Talks
Nepal's Government and Rebels to Hold Peace Talks Next Week, Official Says

The Associated Press


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KATMANDU, Nepal March 28

Nepal's government and rebels will hold talks next week in the capital to try to end a seven-year civil war that has killed more than 7,000 people, an official said Friday.

Two weeks ago, the sides agreed to released all prisoners and announced guidelines for peace talks, but did not set a date to meet.

On Friday, government negotiator Narayan Singh Pun said the two sides would get together Tuesday in a "goodwill meeting."

Pun said the two sides have not agreed on an agenda but would stick to 22 points agreed upon earlier this month. Those guidelines include releasing all prisoners of war.

"We have presented the Maoist leaders with a proposal of what the agenda should be and they said they appreciate our efforts in this peace process," Pun said.

The two sides were not expected to debate rebel demands for an interim government and an election for a constitutional assembly that would draft a new constitution.

Baburam Bhattarai, the rebels' second in command, arrived in Katmandu on Friday for the talks.

It was his first public appearance since the rebels began their campaign in 1996 to end the constitutional monarchy in this Himalayan kingdom. More than 7,000 people have been killed in the insurgency.

Hundreds of rebels have been arrested since emergency rule was imposed in November 2001 after failed peace talks, and an undisclosed number of government troops and officials are being held by the rebels. Emergency rule was lifted in August.

In January, the rebels decided to halt attacks and negotiate after the government agreed to stop calling them terrorists, rescind a bounty on the heads of rebel leaders and cancel a notice to Interpol seeking their arrest.

The rebels say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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