KATHMANDU (AFP) — Former US president Jimmy Carter on Saturday urged that Nepal's Maoists be struck off the US terror list after the former rebels took an early lead in election results.
"My hope is and my cautious expectation is that the US will in the future recognise the authenticity and the non-terrorist nature of the commitment of the Maoists," the ex-Democratic president told journalists in Kathmandu.
His comments came after early results showed the Maoists taking an unexpected lead in the landmark elections held to elect a body that is expected to abolish Nepal's monarchy as well as write a new constitution.
The Maoists are still classed by Washington as "terrorists" even though they signed a peace deal with mainstream parties in late 2006 ending a 10-year insurgency and joined mainstream politics, declaring they were ready to embrace democracy.
Carter was in Kathmandu where his human rights organisation helped monitor the polls, whose full results will not be known for at least a week.
"It was a serious mistake for the United States to continue to boycott... consultations and communications with the Maoists," Carter said, urging the United States to recognise the peaceful nature of the election.
Carter said he also hoped that if the Maoists fared well in the voting, that the United States "will recognise and start to do business with the Maoists, who will represent a substantial portion of the people of this country."
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