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Last Updated: Friday, 18 November 2005, 16:39 GMT
Nepal opposition in Maoist talks
By Nagendar Sharma
BBC News, Delhi

Maoist rebels
Politicians say they will try to persuade the rebels to disarm
Leading Nepalese politicians have held behind-the-scenes talks in India with Nepal's Maoist rebel leaders.

Leaders of the movement to restore democracy in Nepal met the Maoists to discuss a common front in tackling the direct rule of King Gyanendra.

The king assumed control in February saying politicians were corrupt and had failed to tackle the Maoist insurgency.

India has remained tight-lipped about the talks as it officially deems the Maoists terrorists.

'Common fight'

The meeting, which reportedly took place in an Indian government guest house, was an attempt to broker a political deal and step up the campaign against the monarchy in Nepal.

King Gyanendra (L) and Manmohan Singh
Mr Singh (R) has urged King Gyanendra to restore democracy

The leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (UML), Madhav Kumar Nepal, confirmed to the BBC that the dialogue with the Maoists had opened in recent days.

Mr Nepal declined to give any details of the talks but said from now on the seven-party opposition alliance and the Maoists would have a common target of "fighting the monarchy".

Mr Nepal said the mainstream political parties continued to differ with the Maoist strategy of violence, but that would not come in the way of the common fight for democracy.

He said the political parties would continue to try to persuade the Maoists to give up violence.

The Indian government has not wanted to appear to be hosting the Maoist rebels.

Foreign ministry spokesman, Navtej Sarna, said: "At the moment we have no information about any such meeting. We will let you know when we have any information."

Political parties from Nepal and Maoist representatives have also been separately meeting Indian political leaders in recent months to try to work out a political solution.

The latest talks involved former Nepal Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, in India for medical treatment, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday.

The talks come hard on the heels of Mr Singh's meeting with King Gyanendra at a key regional summit in Dhaka last weekend, where India again stressed the need to restore multi-party democracy in Nepal.

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