//Crucial Ulfa peace talks in New Delhi today

Crucial Ulfa peace talks in New Delhi today

Guwahati: Indian government negotiators and representatives of the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) are meeting for fresh talks today aimed at ending nearly three decades of insurgency, officials said.

An Indian home ministry official said the talks would be held in New Delhi between government peace emissaries and an 11-member civil society group from Assam chosen by Ulfa.

“We are taking the talks very seriously and we expect the two sides to put their heads together to try and resolve thorny issues,” the official who wished not to be identified said from New Delhi on telephone.

The Ulfa, a rebel group fighting for an independent homeland since 1979, in October last year nominated the People’s Consultative Group (PCG), a team of prominent civil society members.

India’s national security adviser M K Narayanan would be leading the government side. “We would be asking the government to suspend counter-insurgency operations, besides releasing a few top jailed Ulfa leaders so that it paves the way for direct talks between the rebel leadership and New Delhi,” noted Assamese writer and PCG leader Indira Goswami said on telephone from New Delhi.

“The talks are therefore aimed at working out a mutually acceptable peace process leading to formal declaration of a bilateral ceasefire between the Ulfa and the central government.”The first round of talks with the PCG and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was held in New Delhi Oct 26. Singh later said he was ready to discuss “all issues relating to the Ulfa”.

The Ulfa in a statement last week said the outfit was ready for talks with New Delhi. “We are ready for direct talks with the Indian government in the presence of international community members and UN representatives,” the rebel statement said.