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Mamoni signals hope for Ulfa talks

Guwahati, Feb. 17: The possibility of talks between Delhi and the Ulfa brightened today with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) agreeing to formally reply to the outfit's letter, in which it had outlined the conditions for a dialogue.

National security adviser M.K. Narayanan conveyed this to writer Mamoni Raisom Goswami, who has been in touch for Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua for a long time now.

Goswami said over phone from New Delhi that Narayanan's 'green signal is a very good sign for the ongoing peace process'.

The development comes days after Delhi said it was willing to discuss even 'sovereignty' with the Ulfa if it was clubbed with other issues.

Goswami contacted Narayanan after the Ulfa chief told her yesterday that the government must formally reply to the outfit's letter, which was signed by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa.

'He (Barua) was categorical that the reply from the Prime Minister's Office has to be addressed to Rajkhowa,' the writer said.

She said Narayanan gave no hint about when the letter would be sent or whether it would be a formal invitation for a dialogue.

Disclosing that she had a lenghty telephonic discussion with Barua, the writer said the leader of the Ulfa's military wing sounded 'very enthusiastic' yesterday.

'Things seem to be back on track after some hiccups recently. I believe that both sides are very keen to grab the opportunity to end the long-drawn impasse,' Goswami, who is also a professor at Delhi University, said.

The award-winning writer, however, said she might leave the 'job' of brokering talks to somebody else if Delhi rejected the Ulfa's demand for discussions on sovereignty.

The process initiated by Goswami hit a major roadblock in December last year, when the Ulfa chairman announced that Barua was 'seriously ill' and had been shifted to an undisclosed location for 'urgent surgery'.

The impasse continued till January 13, when Barua broke his silence to convey to her that he was 'recovering'.

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