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Last Updated: Monday, 11 July, 2005, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Nepalese rebels urge UN mediation
Soldiers in Nepal
Nepal's army has been unable to beat the rebels
The leader of Nepal's Maoist rebels has called on the international community to help peace efforts in the kingdom.

Prachanda said he was ready to hold talks with the United Nations or others to promote peace and democracy.

His statement comes a day after UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Nepal to meet top leaders including the king.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says the rebels backed UN mediation before and are trying to exploit a rift between King Gyanendra and politicians.

By reiterating their position now, the rebels have drawn attention to the government's continued rejection of such involvement, he says.

Talks call

In his statement, the rebel leader also asked Nepal's political alliance of seven main parties to name a team of negotiators to hold talks with the rebels.

It remains unclear how the politicians, sidelined by the king since his coup in February, will react to Prachanda's call.

The parties' general line is that the Maoists must renounce violence before there can be substantial co-operation.

Our correspondent says there is still no sign of that.

About 12,000 people have died in the 10-year Maoist insurgency that is aimed at replacing the monarchy with a communist republic.

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