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Nepal parties ink major peace deal

Kathmandu: Putting their differences aside, Nepal's main political parties have inked a historic deal that includes an agreement on integrating former Maoist combatants into the security forces, to take a major step towards concluding the stalled peace process.

The four major political forces which represent more than 85% strength of the 601 member Constituent Assembly reached a seven-point agreement last night to conclude the stalled peace process within a month and to prepare a draft constitution.

An agreement on the contentious issue of integrating the former combatants was a major part of the deal which decided to integrate a maximum of 6,500 Maoist combatants into security forces and returning properties sezied during the civil conflict to their rightful owners.

Those who signed the deal at the end of a crucial meeting held at Prime Minister's residence at Baluwatar last night include UCPN-Maoist chief Prachanda, Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal and leader of Joint Democratic Madhesi Front and Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar.

As per the deal a maximum of 6,500 Maoist combatants will be integrated into the Nepal Army by creating a separate directorate, whose responsibility would be to carry out development activities, forest conservation, industrial security and crisis management, according to Nepali Congress vice president Ramchandra Poudyal.

The directorate will consist of 65% personnel from Nepal army and 35% from the Maoist combatants.

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