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ULFA talks likely in Dec: Gogoi

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Oct 19 � The peace process with ULFA sans its military chief Paresh Barua is on track, with the Centre giving the nod to Assam Government to go ahead. The first round of formal dialogue is expected in December.

The go-ahead for the talks with the detained ULFA leaders came at a meeting between Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram and Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi here this afternoon.

The Centre�s interlocutor P C Haldar would be given the signal to formally start the peace process in couple of days� time. �We want the talk process to be initiated and it should be started by December,� said the Chief Minister.

The modalities for the talks are expected to be worked out by Haldar in consultation with the State Government and the detained ULFA leadership. Once the modalities are worked out the stage would be set for preparation of the charter of demands, which would be the basis for talks between the Centre and the ULFA leaders.

The Chief Minister also clarified that the ULFA leaders belonging to the 28th battalion would also be involved in the same dialogue process.

�We want Paresh Barua to come but till today there is no indication but when the talk process starts, he might change his mind,� said the Chief Minister.

Briefing newsmen at the end of his over a week-long tour, Gogoi said he met Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Kamal Nath, besides the Union Home Minister. He is scheduled to meet Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee later this evening.

On the ULFA issue, he acknowledged the apprehension over the released ULFA leaders doing the vanishing act. �Definitely we have to give an assurance to Government of India that they won�t disappear,� said Gogoi, who has put all his stakes on the peace dialogue ahead of the Assembly polls.

Stating that he had a long talk with both the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister, the Chief Minister said they expressed their satisfaction that the situation in the State is much better now. �The Home Minister is very happy that the situation is better and the talks are progressing in the right direction,� he said.

�Today, we have received the green signal from the Home Minister. By and large the Home Minister has agreed to our suggestion that talks with Central Government can start by December,� he said.

In the same breath, the Chief Minister added that political dialogue with other groups including both factions of DHD, UPDS, pro-talk faction of NDFB was also on track.

Acknowledging that the State Government expects problems including legal hassle, Gogoi hinted at the possibility that some ULFA leaders may not be released, as they face serious criminal charges.

�The talk process can go ahead, we don�t want a deadlock,� he said, adding that he expects some groups of ULFA men, considered fence sitters to come over once the formal dialogue starts.

Several of the top ULFA leaders including its vice chairman Pradip Gogoi, Mithinga Daimary, ideologue Bhim Kanta Buragohain, Raju Barua among others have been released on bail by court after the State Government did not oppose their bail plea.

Replying to questions, Gogoi said he has also briefed Congress president Sonia Gandhi about the ongoing process.

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