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Nepal's Government, Rebels Sign Code of Conduct in Peace Talks

Government negotiators in Nepal and Maoist rebels have agreed to end attacks against each other, in breakthrough peace talks aimed at ending a decade-long insurgency.

Both sides agreed to a 25-point code of conduct that includes commitments to halt the practices of intimidation and extortion, and to maintain a ceasefire declared last month.

The agreement came at the end of the first day of peace talks in three years, held on the outskirts of the capital, Kathmandu. The meeting began just hours after the two sides agreed to talk.

Hopes for an end to Nepal's insurgency have increased since a new multi-party government took power last month, following weeks of street protests against King Gyanendra.

Rebels say they want an election to be held within six months to form a special assembly that will draft a new constitution.

Nepal's insurgency has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

The rebels say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong. They began fighting to replace the constitutional monarchy with a communist state in 1996.

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