23 nations take part in military exercise in Nepal

PANCHKHAL, Nepal (AP) - Soldiers from 23 nations began military exercises in Nepal on Monday to train for United Nations peacekeeping missions in areas hit by conflicts.

The Nepalese army said the two-week exercises organised by Nepal and the United States will promote regional security and enhance peacekeeping capabilities.

Altogether, 871 soldiers are participating from countries including Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, Jordan, Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.

They will train in skills used for peacekeeping operations such as patrolling, checkpoint controls and convoy operations.

"The focus is to learn and practice ways of peacekeeping skills in the realistic environment as well as learn from each nation's participants," said Lt Gen Thomas Conant of the US Pacific Command.

Nepal has been sending soldiers on UN peacekeeping missions since 1958.

The exercises are scheduled to end on April 7.