Rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as Prachanda said some government conciliatory moves have been well received.

The government freed three rebel leaders on Tuesday and agreed to provide information on a number of Maoist prisoners.

“Although government action has not been able to create a completely favorable atmosphere for talks, we take some of the steps positively,” said Prachanda -- which means The Fierce, in a letter to the government, AFP reported.

Wider political involvement

Prachanda also called on the government to involve other mainstream political parties in peace talks.

No date has yet been fixed for negotiations.

A major stumbling block to successful negotiations has been the issue of troop movements.

The Maoists want the government to restrict its troop patrols to within a 5 km radius of their barracks. The government has refused.

Guerilla attack

On Wednesday, guerilla militia opened fire on a government patrol. There were no reported injuries.

An unidentified military official told AFP that the troops were 10 km from barracks.

The war between the rebels and the government has raged for seven years. The rebels, who control large areas of the Nepalese countryside, are fighting to topple the constitutional monarchy and create a communist state.