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India Urges Peace Between Maoists and Nepal - 2004-09-12

India's foreign secretary says his country's military support to help Nepal quell its Maoist rebellion does not mean military action is the only answer to the crisis. He is urging the Maoists to stop their violence and engage in politics.

India's Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran says that while India is promising military hardware and training to Nepal's Army, his government is urging Nepal's Maoist rebels to lay down their arms and revive stalled peace talks.

Mr. Saran made his remarks as Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba ended his four days of talks with Indian leaders in New Delhi.

He says India, an important ally in Nepal's effort to end the eight-year insurgency, wants to see the rebels work within the system of multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy. He says the rebels' strategy of pursuing political change through violence is not acceptable to India.

"Nobody would object if they also take a chance at the hustings (elections) as any other political entity in Nepal," Mr. Saran says. "But taking part in any kind of an electoral process can not be under the shadow of the gun."

Nepal's King Gyanendra and Mr. Deuba do not want to re-start the peace talks with the Maoists that ended last August. Mr. Deuba told New Delhi this week that the rebels used the talks as a pretext to re-group and reinforce their fighters.

Nepal's Maoist rebels have been fighting since 1996 to replace the Himalayan kingdom's constitutional monarchy with a communist state. The insurgency has killed some 10-thousand people and seriously damaged Nepal's economy.

Last month, the Maoists blockaded the capital Kathmandu and have recently forced the closure of dozens of businesses.