Nepal's government has dropped murder charges against two Maoist rebel leaders.
Officials say the decision to drop the charges against Matrika Yadhav and Suresh Ale Magar - both arrested in India in 2004 - came on Wednesday, after the Maoists announced they were forming a three-member team for peace talks with the interim government.
The rebels have been urging the government to release all Maoist leaders and activists from Nepalese and Indian jails, saying the move will help create the right atmosphere for peace talks. No date has been set for the talks.
The Maoists also say they have started the process of handing back land and houses they seized during their decade-long insurgency.
But despite a three-month cease-fire recently declared by both sides, Nepalese authorities say unrest has continued this week. Officials say Maoist rebels abducted at least five policemen on Tuesday in Nawalparasi district. Maoist rebels have not publicly commented on the incident.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.