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Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Nepal agrees temporary ceasefire
Maoist rebels
Talks between Maoists and the government broke down last year
Nepal's government has said it will temporarily suspend army operations against Maoists in response to a rebel truce offer.

The Maoists offered last week to suspend armed operations for one week from this Wednesday during the Hindu festival of Dasain.

The government said it would suspend operations from 18 to 27 October.

Talks between the sides to end an eight-year Maoist insurgency that has left 9,500 dead broke down last year.

Rights groups

Mohammed Mohsin, Nepal's information and communication minister, told reporters: "There will be no offensive [action] from our side."

But he added: "If there is any sabotage against us and if anyone tries to disturb peace the government will be on high alert to maintain peace."

The BBC's Navin Singh Khadka in Kathmandu says the government had come under tremendous pressure to reciprocate the rebels' truce.

Rebel leader Prachanda said the Maoists' move was in response to calls from human rights groups and ordinary citizens.

Human rights activists had argued for a temporary ceasefire, saying it could create an atmosphere for a longer truce and the resumption of peace talks.

The talks broke down over a key rebel demand for a constituent assembly and elections to draw up a new constitution that the rebels believe will clear the way for a communist republic.

The government rejected the demand.

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