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Maoist leader to head Nepal rebel peace talk team

KATHMANDU, May 13, 2006 (AFP) Nepal's Maoist leader will head a delegation in peace talks with the government, but only after all rebel prisoners have been released, the Maoist's political wing said yesterday.

"There are important decisions to be made during high-level talks with the seven-party government," a statement from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) said.

"The central committee meeting of our party has decided that chairman Prachanda will lead the team," the statement said. The date, location and format of the talks have yet to be announced and the government has not yet named a negotiation delegation. Prachanda will not be there for the preliminary discussions, but will head the delegation for "high level" talks with the government, the statement from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) said.

The rebel leader and former school teacher, whose name means "the fierce one," rarely makes public appearances. The Maoist statement contained a 10 point roadmap outlining the conditions for talks.

The release of all rebel prisoners was a precondition before negotiations could begin, the Maoist statement said. Under the 10 point roadmap, the rebels have called for the dissolution of parliament, the constitution and the government once talks have begun.

Nepal's rebels announced a ceasefire which was matched by the new government late last month.

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