N-E Indian rebel group for extension of truce

Agence France Presse

Guwahati, July 11:

A powerful rebel group in northeast India said today it was committed to extending a ceasefire with the government to allow the continuation of talks aimed at ending nearly six decades of insurgency.

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland, led by guerrilla leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, has been engaged in peace talks with New Delhi since entering into a ceasefire in 1997, which will expire at the end of July.

The NSCN, one of the oldest and most powerful of about 30 rebel groups in India’s northeast, wants to create a “Greater Nagaland” out of Nagaland state by slicing off parts of neighbouring states that have Naga tribal populations.

“Talks with the Indian government representatives are likely to be held soon outside India although the date or venue has not yet been fixed,” senior NSCN leader RH Raising said from Dimapur.

“There is no reason why we should not extend the ceasefire by another year as we are committed to finding an acceptable political solution.”

NSCN leaders led by Muivah have held at least 20 rounds of talks with government peace envoys in New Delhi since December, but nothing concrete has emerged.

“The ball is now in New Delhi’s court as we have already made our point very clear to the Indian government. The progress of the talks has been rather slow, but we are still hopeful of a solution,” Raising said.

ULFA missive

NEW DELHI: A letter from United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa addressed to PM Manmohan Singh was delivered here on Monday, a mediator for ULFA said. Writer Indira Goswami said: “The group has said it is sincere in starting peace talks with New Delhi if it’s key demand of sovereignty... figures in the discussions”. — HNS