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Maoists reject talks deadline

Kathmandu, Nov. 27 (Reuters): Maoist rebels fighting to overthrow Nepal's constitutional monarchy rejected today a deadline set by the government to begin peace talks to end a bloody revolt which has killed thousands of people.

Maoist chief Prachanda said the January 13 deadline set by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to begin talks had no political basis and only complicated chances of a dialogue.

Deuba vowed this week to continue making plans for national elections if Maoist rebels did not respond to the latest government offer for peace talks to end the eight-year revolt that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Nepal has remained without an elected parliament since 2002 and peace with the rebels is key to polls as they control large swathes of the country and voting is not possible without their cooperation. 'The appeal is without any solid basis for a political solution ... and only misleads the world,' the elusive rebel leader said in a statement, adding that the government was conspiring to crush the revolt.

Prachanda demanded 'dependable international mediation' for peace talks and repeated a call for an assembly to prepare a new constitution to decide the future of the monarchy in the Himalayan nation. Prachanda said Nepal was in a political crisis and his party was not against talks to end the turmoil.

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