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Nepal Maoists: Deal on Arms Management Very Close


Nepal's Maoist rebels say they have made significant progress in peace talks with the government on arms management.

A Maoist spokesman said Sunday the two sides have agreed in principle to separately lock up an equal number of weapons under United Nations supervision.

The issue of weapons held by the rebels has been the main sticking point in the peace process aimed at ending a decade-old Maoist insurgency.

The government and Maoist rebels declared a ceasefire and began peace talks in May after weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations forced King Gyanendra to give up his authoritarian rule and restore multi-party democracy.

The two sides agreed to hold elections by next June for a special assembly that will draft a new constitution for Nepal.

Nepal's ruling coalition agreed in June that the rebels should be allowed to join an interim government if they surrender their weapons.

Last month, the rebels extended a unilateral ceasefire by another three months in a bid to boost peace talks with Kathmandu.

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