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Sun, 07/27/2008 - 12:53
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Koirala to attend SAARC meet amid stalemate on govt formation By Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, July 26 (PTI) - With the inter-party wranglings delaying formation of a new government in Nepal, caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala will represent thecountry at the next week's SAARC Summit in Colombo.

"As new government has not yet been formed till now, it is natural that Prime Minister Koirala will have to lead the SAARC delegation," said Koirala's Foreign Affairs AdvisorAditya Baral.

Koirala will be accompanied by Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat to Colombo as Foreign Minister Sahana Pradhan hasalready resigned, official said.

The octogenarian Nepali Congress leader had resigned as prime minister on June 26 under intense pressure from Maoists, who had emerged as the biggest group in the April 10Constituent Assembly elections.

A last minute political manoeuvring, which saw the Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and Madhesi groups joining hands to defeat the Maoist candidate in the Presidential election this week has intensified the overfour-month long deadlock over government formation.

A sulking CPN-Maoist chairman Prachanda skipped the oath taking ceremony of the first President of Nepal Ram Baran Yadav and set three pre-conditions for forming a government, including a written commitment from parties that hisadministration will last for two years.

The 15th Summit of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation is scheduled to be held in Sri Lankacapital on August 2-3.

Nepalese Foreign Secretary Gyan Chandra Acharya said Koirala may attend the Summit as the new government is not yet in place. He said, though Koirala is the caretaker Prime Minister, but that will not prevent him from signing the documents at the SAARC meetings. PTI SBP