Nepal’s Maoists welcomed Friday a decision by the United States government to remove their movement from its list of organisations supporting terrorism, stressing that the move would encourage them to stand firm about peace and democracy.

“We have adopted the path of peace, constitution and democracy and the decision of the U.S. government has proves us right,” local media quoted Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who hails from the Maoist party, as saying.

In 2003, the US listed the Maoists as a terrorist organization, blocking its leaders from obtaining a US visa or conducting business transactions with the U.S.

Another Maoist leader, Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, said the decision had opened new avenues of cooperation with Washington.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of State said the Nepalese party had shown credible commitment to peace and reconciliation.

Maoists launched a decade-long insurgency in Nepal in 1996, during which more than 16,000 people were killed. The war ended with the signing of a peace deal with the government in 2006.

The party returned to mainstream politics in 2008.

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