Kathmandu, November 10:

The European Union today welcomed the November 8 agreement between the government and the Maoists.

Stating that the most important challenge ahead will be securing an environment conducive to holding free and fair elections, the EU, in a statement, also assured its support to the peace process in Nepal.

It said it will support the UN and believed that the world body’s role in assisting in the electoral and arms management processes will be vital.

“All parties must now keep up the momentum in the peace process. The EU calls upon the new government to build trust and guarantee that human rights and the rule of law are respected in all parts of the country, “ the statement said.

“I welcome the Maoist agreement to lock up their weapons and work towards signing a peace agreement by November 16,” said Neena Gill, the President of the European Parliament Delegation to South Asian Countries, in a separate statement.

“I urge both sides to stick to the provisional calendar, finalise the peace agreement and form an interim parliament by November 26 and an interim government by December 1,” she added. She further said: “I now encourage them (Maoists) to take further action and stop any of their supporters from taking part in acts of intimidation or extortion.”

Also today, the Finish embassy announced that a EU Troika will visit Nepal from 15 to 17 November.

The Troika will meet representatives of the government, negotiating parties in the peace process, Personal Representative of the UN Secretary General in Nepal, Ian Martin, members of civil society and representatives of the international community in Nepal, a press release issued by the embassy said.

The Troika will reconfirm the EU’s willingness to support the peace process, stated the release.

The Troika will be led by Pekka Metso, Director for Asia in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, representing the Presidency of the EU. The European Commission will be represented by James Moran, Head of Unit for South Asia. The incoming German Presidency of the EU will be represented by Thomas Wriessnig, Head of Division South Asia, The High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, will be represented by Michael Swann, South Asia Desk Officer from the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU.