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Centre, NSCN(IM) agree to speed up peace talks

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Oct 4 � The Government of India and leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) have agreed to expedite the peace talks and to take the process to a logical conclusion as soon as possible as both sides agreed that discussions have been lingering for too long without making much progress.

Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the talks between the Government and the NSCN (I-M) resumed after the new Government assumed office at the Centre and a delegation of 20 senior members of the outfit led by the chairman and the general secretary had a detailed discussion with the Centre�s interlocutor RN Ravi in New Delhi on September 30.

Sources said the talks were basically an ice-breaking effort after the new Government assumed office as there was a need for both sides to make their stand clear on the issue. Both sides agreed that the talks were lingering for a long time and there was a need for expediting the process so that an amicable solution could be found soon. There should be a time-bound programme for completion of the talks and the NCSN leaders have been asked to adopt a realistic approach. Sources said the NSCN leadership have given up the demand for sovereignty, but they are yet to give up the demand for territorial integrity of the Naga-inhabited areas covering Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Sources admitted that a new beginning has been made and it is possible that an amicable solution would be found if the leaders of the NSCN adopt a realistic approach. The next round of talks between the Government and the NSCN (I-M) would be held as soon as the modalities are finalised.

MHA sources revealed that the Government has made it clear to the leaders of the NSCN(I-M) that a political solution to the issues would have to be found within the framework of the Constitution of India. The MHA also informed the leaders of the NSCN (I-M) about the complaints that the Assam Government had lodged with the Centre against members of the outfit. The Assam Government had alleged that members of the NSCN(I-M) were involved in creating trouble along the Assam-Nagaland border areas and the MHA has asked the leaders of the outfit to make sure that no member of the outfit is involved in violation of the ground rules of the cease-fire agreement.

It may be mentioned here that after several rounds of informal talks, a formal cease-fire agreement between the Government and NSCN (I-M) was signed in 1997 and talks were going on since than without making much progress. However, immediately after assuming office, the present Government decided to expedite the talks and appointed the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) RN Ravi as the interlocutor.

Meanwhile, the Government is yet to take any decision on starting formal talks with the Khaplang faction of the NSCN. Sources revealed that the Government would have to take a decision on the issues to be discussed with the outfit before starting formal talks.

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