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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
UN team probes Nepal arms dispute
Maoist rebels
The Maoists rigorously defend their right to bear arms
The leader of a UN delegation to Nepal has said he will listen to both sides before deciding how to deal with the issue of Maoist arms decommissioning.

Staffan de Mistura said that he would hold extensive talks with the government and the Maoists during the course of the week-long visit.

The arms issue has been the cause of strong disagreement between the government and the rebels.

The UN team held talks with Nepal's deputy prime minister on Thursday.

'Sense of urgency'

"The mission seeks to forge a common understanding about the scope and nature of the UN role in the peace process," Mr de Mistura told reporters.

The BBC's Bhagirath Yogi in Kathmandu says that the seven-member UN team will meet with Maoist leaders on Friday following Mr Mistura's meeting with Deputy Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Thursday night.

Head of UN delegation to Nepal, Staffan de Mistura
Clarity among all concerned is absolutely essential if the UN is to play an effective role as an impartial third party in Nepal
Head of UN delegation to Nepal Staffan de Mistura

Mr de Mistura said that the UN shared "a sense of urgency about maintaining momentum" in the peace process.

When asked about differences between the government and Maoist rebels over the issue of arms decommissioning, he said the mission was in Nepal "to listen to everyone and that was what the UN did the best".

The UN team is in Nepal at the request of the government who asked that the organisation take responsibility for decommissioning weapons held by Maoist rebels.

That angered the Maoists, who say that the request was a breach of the peace agreement which said that the UN would only be responsible for the "management of armed personnel of both sides".

Our correspondent say that these differences will not however derail the three-month-old peace process which it is hoped will culminate in bringing an end to the decade-old conflict.

A Maoist spokesman on Thursday said the rebels would extend the ceasefire before it expires at the end of this week.

Over 13,000 people have been killed during the Maoist insurgency, which aimed to replace the monarchy with a communist republic.

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