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Asia Crisis

No U.S. timetable to remove Nepal Maoists' terror tag

KATHMANDU, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The United States has no timetable to take Nepal's Maoists off its list of terrorist groups, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said on Thursday, months after the former rebels were elected to power.

The Maoists ended a decade-long civil war under a 2006 peace deal and head a coalition government after winning elections last April. But some political parties in the impoverished Himalayan nation still accuse the Maoists of using violence and intimidation for political ends.

Since entering the political mainstream the Maoists have urged Washington to remove them from the list that has included them for six years.

Boucher, the most senior U.S. official to visit Nepal since the Maoists won power, said Washington was "very carefully" looking at why the Maoists were put on the list and what needed to be done to remove them.

"The more they act within the political system and abandon the past practices of terrorism and violence, the easier it will be for us to finish the review," Boucher told reporters after meeting Nepali leaders. "I don't have a timetable yet."

Boucher said Washington would work with the government in a "very normal fashion" and continue its aid programme for social and economic development.

Nepal's cabinet named a new ambassador to the United States on Wednesday.

The Maoist-led government will oversee the preparation of a new constitution by May next year, capping the peace deal that ended a war in which more more than 13,000 people died.

A multi-party panel is also working on the rehabilitation of more than 19,000 former Maoist fighters living in U.N. monitored camps, a key to lasting stability in a country now grappling with rising inflation and power cuts.

Boucher urged feuding political parties including the Maoists to reach a "broad consensus" for future governance and the rehabilitation of the former guerillas.

"It needs a lot of discussions but there also needs to be a coming together in the end," he said. (Editing by Matthias Williams and Jerry Norton)

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