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Cloud lifts on Naga visit

New Delhi, Dec. 3: Setting at rest recent controversies, the government today formally announced that the leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) will arrive in the capital on Sunday.

Isak Chishi Swu, the chairman of the NSCN (I-M) and Thuingaleng Muivah, the organisation's general secretary, are now expected to reach Delhi by a KLM flight from Amsterdam, arriving at 11.30 pm on Sunday.

Within two days of their arrival, they are expected to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Union home minister Shivraj Patil. They are also learnt to have sought meetings with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP president L.K. Advani, CPI veteran A.B. Bardhan and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.

They are also likely to meet Rama Pilot, the wife of the late Rajesh Pilot who had played a crucial role as Prime Minister's special emissary to the Naga peace talks, and another Indian chief negotiator, Swaraj Kaushal.

The date of the visit was announced today simultaneously by the government and the NSCN (I-M). The government announcement said the Naga organisation had accepted its assurances for holding 'intensive and undisturbed' peace negotiations.

It also clarified: 'Committed to the peace process, the Government of India has been engaged in political negotiations only with the NSCN (I-M). It will continue to do so to arrive at a mutually acceptable, negotiated settlement of the Naga issue.'

Sounding a warning to all those who might want to create situations to disturb the peace process, the government announced that it was 'committed to a satisfactory conclusion of the Naga peace process with the NSCN (I-M) without any disturbance from any quarter.'

This was aimed at those groups in Nagaland, including individuals in the Neiphieu Rio government who, the government believes, have been trying to disturb the peace process for their narrow interests.

With this, New Delhi has managed to set at rest the misgivings of the NSCN (I-M) leaders about the government or some of its agencies dealing simultaneously with other minor Naga groups or propping up rivals while carrying on the talks with it.

In their statement, the NSCN (I-M) leaders acknowledged they had received assurances 'from the highest levels in the Government of India for sincere, intensive and undisturbed peace negotiations'.

They also reiterated the sentiment of New Delhi saying 'nobody would be allowed to disturb the negotiations aimed at arriving at a peaceful, negotiated solution to the long pending issue'.

Isak and Muivah have always argued that since the very inception of the peace talks, they have been held at the highest levels on the two sides. The assurance they received, therefore, also comes from the highest quarters in Delhi.

That the talks would now enter an intensive phase is a feather in the cap of the Prime Minister. Manmohan Singh had been at pains to assure the Naga leaders that his government was indeed sincere in seeking a solution to the Naga issue.

The Naga leaders also seem desirous of taking Nagas across the political spectrum along with them every inch of the way in the pursuit of peace.

This was evident from the call given in their statement for 'all Nagas to join hands to strengthen the peace process.' As if to underline the importance of the Naga people over any group, the NSCN (I-M) leaders announced that they would hold discussions with 'all Nagas irrespective of their past before entering into intensive negotiations with India.'

After a week in Delhi, they are expected to do precisely this by spending Christmas and New Year in Nagaland.

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