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UN Security Council OKs Assistance for Nepal Peace Deal

The U.N. Security Council has welcomed Nepal's landmark peace agreement, and urged a speedy response to a request from Kathmandu for assistance. VOA's Peter Heinlein has details from our U.N. office.

The Security Council issued a statement Friday endorsing a mission Secretary-General Kofi Annan is sending to Nepal.

Mr. Annan earlier said he would honor a request from the Nepalese government and Maoist rebels for a technical assessment mission to support a peace accord signed last month. The assessment mission includes 35 monitors and 25 experts to help organize planned elections.

Washington's U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said the unanimous Council approval shows a desire to do whatever necessary to support Nepal's fragile peace. "The fact that the government and Maoists reached agreement is a positive sign and our authorization for the secretary-general's mission is intended to be in support of the agreement. We felt it was important to move ahead quickly," he said.

Britain drafted the Council statement, and London's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry said he was astonished that Nepal appears to have emerged from a difficult period and now heads to a better future. "What we mapped out today is a way in which the UN family, not just the SC, should rally behing the positive developments in Nepal. So I hope this leads on to something positive and that all the different agencies, funds and different parts of the UN family rally behind Nepal," he said.

Reports from Kathmandu Friday indicated the peace deal is still extremely fragile. Government and Maoist rebel representatives were reported to have failed to meet a deadline to form an interim government. They said the deal had been delayed and progress is expected next week.

The agreement signed Tuesday spells out how the rebels will put down their weapons and be allowed to join the government as part of a plan for ending 10 years of conflict in Nepal. The deal calls for thousands of rebel fighters to be confined to camps under U.N. supervision until elections can be held.

The elections are tentatively scheduled for next June, but no firm date has been set.

Last April, the Maoists helped lead three weeks of mass protests that forced King Gyanendra to give up absolute power.