Top U.S. and Norwegian diplomats arriving in Nepal

Top U.S. and Norwegian diplomats were to arrive in Nepal Tuesday, in the first visit by senior foreign officials since weeks of bloody protests forced King Gyanendra to return the reins of government to an elected Parliament.

Members of the new government, however, were still haggling over positions in the Cabinet.

Richard Boucher, U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, would spend two days in Nepal, the U.S. Embassy in Katmandu said.

Norway's Development Cooperation Minister Erik Solheim was also scheduled to arrive Tuesday for a three-day visit, the foreign ministry said.

No details about the officials' schedules were released, but they are expected to meet several political leaders, including Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who was sworn in for a fifth stint as premier on Sunday.

The government, meanwhile, was putting the final touches on its Cabinet line-up which would be announced later Tuesday, according to Koirala's aides.

Koirala met at his house Monday with leaders of the Himalayan nation's seven main political parties, which spearheaded three weeks of demonstrations that forced the monarch to yield control of the government.

But the expected announcement of the makeup of a new Cabinet kept getting delayed amid speculation that the parties were jostling for position as their united front against the king threatened to dissolve into self-interest.

The politicians did not reach accord on the issue Monday, but did agree to trim the Cabinet from 34 to about a dozen members, with the number to be raised later, said Lilamani Pokhrel, a legislator from the People's Front Nepal. The change is meant to streamline what has been seen as an inefficient bureaucracy.

Pokhrel's party and the other six members of the seven-party alliance all are supposed to be represented in the Cabinet, reports the AP.

I.L.