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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 May, 2005, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
US issues democracy plea to Nepal
Christina Rocca and King Gyanendra
Ms Rocca said the king and politicians must be reconciled
A visiting senior US official has urged Nepal's king and political parties to work together to restore democracy and deal with the Maoist insurgency.

US Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs, Christina Rocca, said US development aid would continue to Nepal but military aid was under review.

Ms Rocca was speaking after meeting the king and top opposition leaders.

King Gyanendra seized direct power in February, saying political parties had failed to tackle the Maoists.

Ms Rocca is the most senior US official to visit Nepal since the royal takeover.

'Good first step'

She addressed a brief press conference at the end of her three-day visit on Wednesday.

Ms Rocca said in all her meetings she had expressed her government's firm belief that reconciliation between the Nepalese government and the political parties was crucial if Nepal was to move towards functional democracy and to address what she called the brutal Maoist insurgency.

Nepalese soldiers
US military aid to Nepal is under review

She expressed hope that the "legitimate forces" in Nepal would unite in pursuit of those goals.

Ms Rocca said the lifting of the state of emergency late last month was a good first step.

But she said there was still a lot to be done on the restoration of civil liberties and the release of prisoners held following the royal takeover.

Ms Rocca said the Maoist influence had more than doubled in the past few years.

But she said there could be no military solution to the problem and that it would have to be resolved at the negotiating table.

Ms Rocca's comments came as Nepal marked 100 days since the royal coup.

The BBC's Asia analyst Jill McGivering says the timing is significant because that was how long the king reportedly allowed himself to tackle the Maoist insurgency.

Violence in the kingdom shows no sign of abating, however.

Ms Rocca arrived in Kathmandu on Monday and is now heading to Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Her first stop was India, which on Tuesday said it was resuming the military aid to Nepal that it suspended after the royal takeover.

An Indian foreign ministry spokesman said the decision followed the lifting of the state of emergency and the release of senior politicians.

Delhi expected "further and early steps" towards restoring democracy, the spokesman said.

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