ULFA leaders to begin talks with Centre

ULFA leaders to begin talks with Centre

A senior government functionary said the ULFA leaders led by 'chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa will arrive next week to present the central government their charter of demands which was prepared in consultation with the civil society members.

"I think they are coming either this week or next week to Delhi to present the documents. That would be a starting points for talks with ULFA," he said.

So far, only preliminary rounds of dialogue between the ULFA and the Centre's interlocutor P C Haldar have been held in Guwahati.

"The ULFA has issued a statement that they will give up violence, suspend all operations and they wish to begin talks. So, the talks will start," the government functionary said.

Sources said the banned group is unlikely to press for its demand of sovereignty and may look for autonomy and other safeguard for the people of Assam under the Constitution.

However, the basis of dialogue will depend on ULFA's charter of demands.

Representatives of central and state governments and ULFA will take part in future meetings.

Rajkhowa led an eight-member team during introductory talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram in February.

However, the group's elusive 'commander-in-chief' Paresh Baruah has been opposed to any dialogue with the government if 'sovereignty' is not discussed in the meeting.

Meanwhile, the government is currently studying a document that was presented by Naga rebel group NSCN(IM).

"They have presented a document that is being studied and formal talks will continue with the interlocutors representing the government and the NSCN(IM). At least we have a document now," the government functionary said.

Centre's interlocutor R S Pandey and NSCN's 'general secretary' Thuingaleng Muivah had issued a joint statement a few days ago, saying they have "narrowed" down differences and are working out a settlement in the "shortest possible time".

"While the differences between the two parties have narrowed, some of the proposals would require further negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable solution," it said.

The statement said sustained negotiations over the past few months have led to a set of proposals for an honourable political settlement based on the uniqueness of Naga history and situation which was recognised by the Government of India in 2002 as well as the contemporary realities and a future vision consistent with the imperatives of the 21st century.

The Naga group has been holding parleys with Pandey to iron out differences on several vexed issues.

A ceasefire was agreed on with NSCN-IM in August, 1997. In May, 1998, the Union government had appointed Swaraj Kaushal as the first negotiator. He continued in his post till July 1999. After him, former Home Secretary K Padmanabhaiah took charge as the Centre's pointsman and continued till 2009.

Pandey, a former petroleum secretary and a 1972 batch Nagaland cadre IAS officer was appointed as the new interlocutor on February 11, 2010.

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