New York, NY (BBN)- Nepalese political leaders have agreed that a scaled-down United Nations presence is necessary to help advance peace and development in the country, a U.N. official said on Friday.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ian Martin, told a meeting of the Security Council that the leaders of the three largest parties wanted the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) to continue for at least another six months.

“Each of them confirmed that they wished UNMIN to continue as a special political mission, headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, in order to assist in taking the peace process forward to its logical conclusion,” he stated, according to a U.N press statement.

The UNMIN was established in January 2007 to help the country, which emerged from a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives until the Government and the Maoists signed a peace accord in 2006, conduct its Constituent Assembly elections.

It is also responsible for monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and the Nepal Army, and assist in monitoring ceasefire arrangements.

The Council is expected to take up the extension of UNMIN’s mandate next week. Its current mandate scheduled to be expired on July 23, 2008.