Naga rebels for holding talks abroad

Himalayan News Service

Dimapur, June 12:

Leaders of the dominant faction of the separatist National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) are leaving India after deciding to hold future talks with the Indian government abroad. The NSCN-IM led by Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chishi Swu came to India in December at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for furthering peace talks. The two self-exiled leaders have been operating out of Southeast Asian cities for the past 38 years. The NSCN-IM is seeking an independent homeland for Nagas. Indian officials say NSCN was ready to sign a peace deal with New Delhi if it was given a “Greater Nagaland”, comprising Naga-populated areas of the northeast. “It has been decided that further talks will be held in a third country. Our leaders are leaving India soon after they finish the ongoing talks with the Indian government,” senior NSCN-IM leader RH Raising told this correspondent here in Nagaland.

Muivah is scheduled to leave for Amsterdam next week. Swu left India in February citing

poor health. Another NSCN leader, Anthony Shimray, left for Bangkok yesterday. “If the situation demands, our leaders can come back to India for talks, but we would prefer the negotiations in a neutral venue,” Raising said. “The progress of the talks has been slow, but we have made our point clear to New Delhi that there cannot be any solution without the unification of the Naga inhabited areas,” Raising said. “The ball is now in the Indian government’s court and we are still hopeful of a solution.” The NSCN and the Indian government entered into a ceasefire in August 1997. The ceasefire expires July 31. “The ceasefire will be extended to enable the talks to continue. We are committed to peace but it all depends on the attitude of the Indian government,” Raising said.