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Nepal ex-PM appeals to Maoists to join political mainstream

KATHMANDU, Sunday (AFP) - Nepal's veteran former prime minister G.P. Koirala said he has appealed to Maoist rebels to ally with mainstream parties to restore democracy in the insurgency-racked nation.

"I asked them to come to the political mainstream and I told them your future is only in mainstream politics," Koirala told reporters at the airport on his return to Kathmandu from a nine-day private visit to New Delhi.

Koirala, who leads the Nepali Congress, Nepal's largest democratic party, said he spoke to the Maoists by telephone. He did not say who he talked to or when the conversation took place.

Koirala, who has served as premier of the Himalayan kingdom four times, made no comment on a statement by a Nepalese communist leader Friday that the rebels were willing to accept multi-party democracy and give up their armed struggle which has claimed more than 12,000 lives since 1996.

Madhav Kumar Nepal, head of the Communist Party of Nepal-UML, told reporters in New Delhi where he said he was on a private visit that the Maoists had also dropped their demand for a one-party state at a meeting several weeks ago.

A report in The Indian Express newspaper said the Maoists were willing to disarm under United Nations auspices.

The Maoists had no comment Saturday on the remarks by the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-UML, part of the coalition government sacked by Gyanendra. Analysts, however, said a tie-up between the Maoists and political parties could be on the cards.




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