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Since 1st March, 1999
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Nepal, Maoists reach deal on UN role
Krishna Sitaula (left) and Krishna Bahadur Mahara in Kathmandu on Wednesday. (AP)

Kathmandu, Aug. 9: The Koirala government and the Maoist rebels today formally requested the UN to monitor the human rights situation in Nepal and manage weapons of both the Nepali Army and the Maoist rebels.

Home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula handed over the letter, signed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist chief Prachanda, to the UN representative in Kathmandu on behalf of the Nepal government. Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara did so for the rebels.

The contents of the letter, however, is identical. It seeks the UNís help in monitoring the human rights situation and the ceasefire code of conduct.

The letter also requests the global body to depute qualified civilian personnel to monitor and verify the confinement of rebel combatants and their weapons within the designated cantonment areas.

The letter also seeks the UNís help to ensure that the Nepali Army is restricted to its barracks and is not used for or against any side in order to ensure free and fair elections to the Constituent Assembly. The letter finally requests the UN to depute observers to oversee the conduct of the elections.

However, the letter states that the modalities for all agreements, including the verification and monitoring of arms and munitions, would be decided after holding discussions with the concerned parties and the UN.

Koirala and Prachanda signed the letter after an hour-long meeting at the Prime Ministerís official residence in Kathmandu this afternoon.

A high-level UN team, led by Staffan de Mistura, visited Nepal to make an assessment of the ground situation last month. They had asked the government and the Maoists to reach an agreement on the issue of arms management after both sides differed on this critical point.

Just before leaving Kathmandu, the UN team had set a three-day deadline for the government and the Maoists to reach a deal on how the UN should engage itself in Nepalís peace process.

However, both sides failed to meet the deadline, resulting in Koiralaís intervention today.

Talking to journalists after handing over the letter to the UN, Mahara, who is also the coordinator of the Maoist talks team, said that the letter was another step forward towards realising the Nepali peopleís aspirations for peace.

Similarly, Sitaula, who is the governmentís talks team coordinator, said all major differences between the government and the Maoists had been resolved.

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