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Nepalese PM Appoints Cabinet as Senior US Official Arrives

Nepal's new prime minister has appointed a seven-member Cabinet, and a top U.S. official has arrived in the Himalayan kingdom to assess the political situation.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and leaders of Nepal's other main parties gave several key Cabinet positions to the prime minister's Nepali Congress party.

But the post of deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs went to K.P. Sharma Oli, a leader of Nepal's second largest party, the Communist Party of Nepal.

The appointments are part of efforts to restore democracy to the country and negotiate peace with Maoist rebels.

Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Richard Boucher, is in Kathmandu. He is scheduled to meet with Mr. Koirala, other political leaders and the chief of Army Staff, General Pyarjung Thapa, during his brief visit.

The Nepali Congress is one of the seven opposition parties that rallied hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets for 19 days this past month to protest King Gyanendra's absolute rule.

Maoist rebel leaders declared a unilateral ceasefire last week after Mr. Koirala assured them that parliament would begin the process of creating a new constitution and redefining the role of the country's monarchy.

The king took absolute power in February 2005, saying he had to act because elected officials were not able to control the rebels.