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ULFA-Centre talks this month: CM

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, June 16 � A team of Home Ministry officials led by Joint Secretary (North-east) is being rushed to Assam to kick start the ULFA peace process. The process is expected to get under way later this month.

The revised schedule was worked out in a meeting between Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Home Minister P Chidambaram here this afternoon. The meeting, held at the North Block, was also joined by Joint Secretary (North-east), Shambhu Singh.

Emerging from the meeting, Gogoi told this newspaper that talks with ULFA would be started shortly. A Joint Secretary of the Ministry would shortly go to Assam in this connection, he added.

The Chief Minister, who was briefed by Centre�s interlocutor PC Haldar on Wednesday said that the peace process with both ULFA and UPDS figured during his talks with Chidambaram.

Replying to a question, Gogoi said several issues were yet to be sorted out with ULFA. The process would formally get under way with a letter or statement from ULFA expressing their intention to sit for talks with Government of India. �A statement or a letter may do,� he added.

Yesterday, the Chief Minister had said that a formal letter from the ULFA was needed to start the dialogue. After they express their desire to come for talks, the Centre would reciprocate marking the beginning of the peace process, the Chief Minister had said.

In the second stage, the two sides would work out the modalities for talks. An agreement for suspension of operation between Government of India and ULFA has also to be signed before the formal dialogue begins, the Chief Minister added.

The Chief Minister also played down the issue of surrender of weapons, stressing that the issue was also part of the talk process. Yesterday, he had said that surrender of weapons by the pro-talk faction was not a serious issue.

When asked about the timeframe, Gogoi said that he expects the process to start as early as later this month.

The Chief Minister also struck a tough note, when asked about the Paresh Barua faction of ULFA, stating that operations against both the anti-talks factions of ULFA and NDFB would continue.

The government has also earmarked lands for establishing the designated camps for the ULFA cadres, he added.

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