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Nepal's Ex-Rebels Get Fresh Start

A former Maoist rebel rides a motorbike and arrives with his family for an integration program at Shaktikhor Cantonment in Chitwan, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) southwest of Katmandu, Nepal, November 19, 2011.

Government monitors in Nepal began interviewing former Maoist rebels Saturday to determine who will join the national army and who will receive financial aid to start new lives.

The historic transition follows a breakthrough peace deal signed earlier this month by the Maoists and three other political parties. The move is expected to bolster the country's peace process some five years after the end of the civil war.

Under the agreement, 6,500 of the 19,000 former rebel fighters will be integrated into the army. The rest will receive payoffs of up to $11,500.

The Maoists have been living in seven camps across Nepal since the end of the conflict in 2006. Nepal's government assumed responsibility for the camps after United Nations monitors left.

Washington welcomed the landmark deal and encouraged Nepal's leaders to work quickly to implement its terms.

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