The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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NSCN seeks Sonia hand

New Delhi, Dec. 8: Buoyed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assurance that the UPA government would walk the extra mile to restore peace in Nagaland, the NSCN (Isak-Muivah)'s collective leadership today went a step further and committed themselves to reciprocating every such gesture 'ten times more'.

Isak Chishi Swu, the outfit's chairman, and Thuingaleng Muivah, its general secretary, told Congress president Sonia Gandhi that if Delhi acknowledged the realities of the Nagas, the Nagas were prepared to acknowledge the realities of India.

Special emissary V.S. Atem said the 'extremely cordial' meeting was part of the larger process of apprising the political leadership about the organisation's sincerity and willingness to sustain the peace process.

The NSCN (I-M) leadership's packed schedule for tomorrow includes meetings with defence minister Pranab Mukherjee, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet.

Atem said the duo acknowledged the Congress high command's influence on the government and urged Sonia to 'drop a positive' suggestion on ending the impasse in Nagaland. This, they said, would make a big difference to the peace process.

Sonia agreed with the NSCN (I-M) leaders on the importance of continuing the negotiations. She emphasised the fact that irrespective of the conflict, dispute or differences, they must all be resolved through peaceful negotiations.

The NSCN(I-M) had adopted the reconciliatory tone yesterday too when Swu told the Prime Minister that though the Nagas had suffered under Congress rule, it was also a fact that the first ceasefire that the Nagas had entered into was with a Congress government in the sixties.

The second phase of the peace initiative, which resulted in the seven-year-old ceasefire, was also started by a Congress government, led by P.V. Narasimha Rao. And they have been invited to the country for a detailed dialogue by a Congress government.

Today, Swu told Sonia that though the Nagas had desired a good relationship with India, the conflict between the Nagas and the government had continued because of 'some misunderstandings'.

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