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US Envoy Meets Nepalese Leaders in Kathmandu

A senior U.S. State Department official begins talks with top Nepalese officials and opposition leaders in Kathmandu Monday.

Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Christina Rocca is the first high-ranking American official to visit Nepal since King Gyanendra seized absolute powers more than two months ago.

The king lifted the state of emergency last week and freed some political detainees, but he retains the extraordinary powers he assumed in February. The king said he dismissed the government because it has failed to crush Nepal's growing Maoist insurgency, which has claimed more than 11,000 lives since 1996.

The United States, a key donor of aid to the Himalayan state, welcomed the king's actions but also has urged him to restore democracy.

Nepal's seven main political parties have said Sunday they intend to work together to reform the constitution, to limit the powers of the throne and to reinstate Parliament, which the king dissolved in 2002.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, Reuters.