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UN Official Visits Nepal to Build on Ceasefire


A senior United Nations official is in Nepal to help the new interim government build on a recently-declared ceasefire with Maoist rebels.

Tamrat Samuel, a senior adviser at the U.N. Department for Political Affairs, arrived Saturday in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. He is expected to meet with government officials and political leaders during the 10-day visit.

The U.N. says Samuel will review Nepal's progress on the restoration of democracy, after King Gyanendra reinstated parliament last month.

The king agreed to give up absolute power last month after a 19-day general strike and pro-democracy protest movement.

Two demonstrators injured by riot police during the protests have died, raising the death toll to 21. Hospital officials say a 40-year-old man hit in the chest by a tear gas canister April 22 died overnight at Kathmandu's Medicare Hospital. Another activist died Saturday while undergoing treatment at the Nepal Medical College Teaching Hospital in Jorpati.

Nepal's interim government has said it will provide compensation to the families of dead protesters, and will help pay for the treatment of those who were injured.

During U.N. diplomat Samuel's visit to Nepal, he is expected to encourage the country's new leaders to reach a negotiated solution to the Maoist insurgency.

Maoist rebels agreed Thursday to hold peace talks with the interim government, after officials promised to hold elections for an assembly to draft a new constitution.

The decade-old Maoist insurgency has killed 13,000 people. Nepalese governments have made two previous attempts to reach a peace deal with the rebels, but both efforts failed.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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