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Nepal's New Cabinet Scraps More Royal Decrees

The Cabinet of Nepal's interim Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has cancelled several controversial ordinances imposed by King Gyanendra after he took absolute power in February 2005.

Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat says the scrapped ordinances include decrees restricting press freedom and imposing controls on non-governmental organizations.

Nepalese officials say the new Cabinet will name a team later this week to begin talks with Maoist rebels aimed at ending their decade-long insurgency.

Earlier Tuesday, U.N. official Tamrat Samuel and Mr. Koirala had talks about helping the interim government build on a recently-declared ceasefire with Maoist rebels.

On Sunday, the new government revoked a number of royal appointments and ordered 12 ambassadors to return home. Last week, the Cabinet annulled municipal elections held three months ago.

The U.N. official's visit to Kathmandu comes after Nepal's Maoist rebels said they want to begin peace talks with the new government as soon as possible.

The decade-old communist 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.

King Gyanendra reinstated parliament and gave up absolute power last month after pro-democracy demonstrations continued for 19 days. Twenty-one people were killed during the unrest.

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