Kathmandu, Dec. 14 (Reuters): A senior US official today urged Maoist rebels, attempting to overthrow Nepal’s constitutional monarchy, to stop fighting and start peace talks to end the conflict that has killed more than 7,200 people.
“It is imperative that the Maoists enter into peaceful dialogue with the government so that Nepal’s democracy and economy flourish,” US assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, Christina Rocca, told Nepali media.
The Maoist revolt has threatened the multi-party democracy established 12 years ago and crippled one of the world's poorest economies.
“We are issuing a strong call for the end of this violence, which we condemn,” said Rocca, on a visit to the troubled Himalayan kingdom.
“The best way to show commitment to dialogue is for the Maoists to lay down their arms and end the senseless violence.”
Both interim Prime Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand and the rebels have pledged to resume talks that collapsed last year, but set to date.
Rocca urged Nepali political parties to take a “united stand” against the revolt, saying it posed a serious threat for the democratic and economic stability of Nepal. Nepali political groups are now divided on how to tackle the insurgency.
Rocco assured government officials yesterday of sustained US support to help end the revolt which is aimed at replacing the constitutional monarchy with a one-party Communist republic.
“We are committed to help Nepal combat the insurgency by providing security assistance to the Nepalese government. Nepal is a multi-party democracy and it is the duty of democratic government to protect its citizens,” Rocca said.
Washington has pledged about $20 million in aid to Kathmandu in the form of equipment, supplies and training for the Nepali security forces.
The rebels claimed responsibility for killing two Nepali guards at the US embassy in Kathmandu, prompting Washington to warn its citizens to consider putting off travel to the kingdom.