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New Nepal PM to invite Maoists for talks

Kathmandu, Oct. 12 (Reuters): Nepal’s new Prime Minister, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, said today his interim government will invite Maoist rebels to peace talks in a bid to end a revolt that has killed thousands and wrecked the economy.

Illustrating the violence that has beset Nepal since the revolt began, suspected rebels detonated a bomb in the capital today, killing one person. It was the third blast in the capital in little more than a week.

Chand said he wanted to hold the talks before fresh elections, originally set for next month.

“We will open a window to have a dialogue with the Maoists,” Chand said in an interview, his first after taking over as Prime Minister yesterday.

“We want to hold early elections but it is not possible next month,” Chand said at his residence in an area without roads and overflowing drains on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

Dozens of supporters arrived at his residence with colourful bouquets and marigold garlands to congratulate the dimunitive Prime Minister.

It is the fourth time the low-profile, soft-spoken author, with a reputation of being a “Mr Clean”, has become Premier.

Chand said a formal decision to invite the Maoists would be taken after consultations with the interim Cabinet and the end of a week-long Hindu festival that began last Saturday.

Chand was appointed Prime Minister by King Gyanendra, who dismissed the previous Prime Minister and assumed power last week in a row over the timing of elections.

Gyanendra’s decision to sack the previous Prime Minister and assume power plunged the Himalayan kingdom into new turmoil after last year’s massacre.

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