NEW DELHI, Jan 24 � A broad agreement between the Centre and the NSCN (I-M) is likely to be signed later this year, highly placed sources said.
An official said that an agreement setting out the broad outlines of settlement is expected to be arrived at by the end of the year. However, the official declined to comment on the demand for unification of the Naga-inhabited areas spanning across the States of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
There is stiff opposition to the demand from the States, admitted the official.
Meanwhile, the visiting NSCN (I-M) leaders on Sunday hinted at some progress in the ongoing talks. The two Naga leaders were accorded a public reception here last evening.
Both the chairman of NSCN (I-M), Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Th. Muivah, also acknowledged the Centre�s �positive� attitude in finding a lasting solution. NSCN (I-M) chairman Isak Chishi Swu said the rebel leadership was in the country at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for peace dialogue and hoped that the Centre would keep its promise that any agreement with the outfit would reflect the �unique history� of the Nagas.
Swu, who arrived in New Delhi on Saturday after a year�s gap, welcomed Government of India�s positive attitude towards the ongoing talks between the group and the interlocutor, RS Pandey. �I thank the Government of India for this initiative and hope that they would not miss the opportunity,� he said adding �We acknowledge the positive attitude and effort of the Government for creating such a conducive atmosphere�.
Admitting that there were differences among Nagas, he said reconciliation among them was the need of the hour. Addressing the gathering, NSCN (I-M) general secretary Th. Muivah too said the discussions held so far were �positive� and hoped the Centre would do the needful.
The NSCN (I-M) has proposed a federal relationship with the Indian Union with additional financial and legislative powers while the Central Government has offered financial package for socio-cultural development of Naga people.
�If the recognition of the unique history and situation of Nagas is translated into a reality, the solution is not far off. While acknowledging the democracy of India, we can also assure that understanding the right of Naga to self determination will only strengthen India�s democracy,� the leaders said.