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Govt softens stand on Maoists

Kathmandu, Dec. 30 (Reuters): Nepal’s government, fighting an increasingly violent revolt against the constitutional monarchy, hinted today it was prepared to release information about detained Maoist rebels as a prelude to peace talks.

An aide to interim Prime Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand said the government was willing to meet this demand from the rebels, who have stepped up attacks in over the past year. But the aide, speaking as a rebel strike call closed down much of Kathmandu for a second day, said the government expected the rebels to offer something in return.

“His Majesty’s government is ready to make public the position of the Maoist detainees but the other side must also make a positive initiative,” the aide, who asked not to be named, said.

Chand said yesterday the government wanted talks to end a conflict that dates back to 1996 and has killed more than 7,200 people. Rebel leader Prachanda asked the government last week to provide information about Maoists his movement describes as disappeared or in jail.

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