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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 07:38 GMT 08:38 UK
Nepal talks 'not breaking down'
Krishna Prasad Sitaula
Sitaula is also the chief government negotiator
A senior Nepalese minister has said there was no immediate prospect of peace talks with the Maoist rebels breaking down.

Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said the government was trying to reach an understanding with the rebels over decommissioning of their weapons.

His statement comes a day after a rebel leader, Baburam Bhattarai, warned the talks were close to collapse.

The rebels called a truce after King Gyanendra ended direct rule in April.

The Maoists and a seven-party alliance clinched a landmark power-sharing deal in June.

The government and rebels have differed recently over a government plan for the United Nations to be involved in the decommissioning of the rebels' weapons.

'No threat'

The two sides have also differed on the future of monarchy in the country.

Mr Sitaula, who is also the chief government negotiator, told the BBC that he did not see any immediate threat of the talks falling through.

He said the government was keen to reach an understanding with the rebels on the issue of handing over the weapons.

On Monday, the deputy chief of the rebels, Baburam Bhattarai said peace talks with the government could break down if it insisted on retaining monarchy.

"The talks are very close to collapse. The dialogue process is stuck at a very sensitive stage," Mr Bhattarai said.
Baburam Bhattarai
Mr Bhattarai is the number two Maoist leader

He said his party would not return to the jungle and would launch a peaceful movement in order to make the country a democratic republic.

He said Nepalese people favoured abolishing the monarchy.

The rebel leader also accused Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala of trying to protect King Gyanendra, who gave up direct power in April following weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says that talks between the government and the rebel party are deadlocked, mainly over whether or not the Maoists should be fully disarmed before joining an interim government.

Rhetoric

Our correspondent says that some analysts believe Dr Bhattarai, known for his hardline rhetoric, may be trying to shift attention away from the weapons issue to the question of the monarchy.

Mr Koirala has been advocating a ceremonial role for the monarchy since it was stripped of its powers and privileges in May.




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