The prime minister of Nepal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, has again dismissed reports Friday in New York that Maoist rebels have called for a unilateral cease-fire. Prime Minister Deuba says he heard reports that Maoist rebels had called for a cease-fire. But speaking at New York's Asia Society, he again insisted that no cease-fire can be trusted until the rebels lay down their arms. Mr. Deuba says in the past, Maoist rebels had called for a truce, only to later renege on their offer.
"Therefore, they are not trustworthy, since they betrayed us before," he said. "Therefore, I don't trust them anymore. Unless they lay down arms, denounce violence, we can not trust them."
In a statement faxed to news agencies, a one-month cease-fire was declared for May 15. But a senior rebel leader also denied reports of a ceasefire in an interview with the BBC, saying the government was behind the message to confuse the population.
The Nepalese government says in recent fighting, its troops have killed hundreds of rebels in the mountains of Western Nepal. Prime Minister Deuba confirmed that more than 70 members of the government's security forces were also killed in a violent attack.
Before traveling to New York, Mr. Deuba met with President Bush in Washington on Tuesday. The White House promised U.S. support for fighting the six-year old rebellion in Nepal. The Bush administration has asked Congress for $20 million in non-combat military aid.
However, Prime Minister Deuba said Nepal still needs additional military support to upgrade its weapons. "They are outdated. They are not useful anymore," he explained. "Therefore we have to replace the weapons. We have to strengthen our army."
Mr. Deuba stressed that Nepal's population continues to suffer. The Kathmandu government says it also needs assistance to reduce poverty, develop infrastructure and invest in education, health and clean drinking water.