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Nepal's new Maoist PM likely to attend Olympics close

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda takes command of his office in Singha Durbar in Kathmandu, August 18, 2008. REUTERS/Shruti Shrestha

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal’s new Maoist prime minister will likely travel to Beijing to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympics, a party official said on Tuesday, in what would be his first trip abroad as the country’s leader.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who still goes by the nom de guerre Prachanda - meaning “terrible” or “fierce” - was sworn in on Monday as the country’s first prime minister after the abolition of the 239-year-old monarchy.

The International Olympic Committee had invited the former guerrilla chief to attend Sunday’s closing ceremony in the Chinese capital, a Maoist spokesman said.

“We are very close to deciding to send the prime minister for the closing ceremony of the Olympics to be participated by many foreign dignitaries,” Krishna Bahadur Mahara said.

Nepal, struggling to emerge from months of political uncertainty, was represented by a former minister during the opening ceremony of the Games.

“It is a strong invitation for the Olympics,” Mahara said.

Prachanda’s election, after his Maoist party won a surprise victory in April’s assembly elections, is a major step towards capping a peace process after a civil war in which more than 13,000 people died.

Nepal’s influential southern neighbour India has also invited the new prime minister for a visit to New Delhi but officials said no decision had yet been taken about the tour.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Sanjeev Miglani)

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