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Ulfa still keen on talks

New Delhi/Guwahati, July 20: Even though the impasse between the Centre and Ulfa on holding direct negotiations persists, both sides have reiterated their commitment to the peace process.

Litterateur Mamoni Raisom Goswami, who is the convener of the People’s Consultative Group (PCG), met Union home secretary V.K. Duggal today to discuss a letter she had received from Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa.

Though Goswami refused to disclose the contents of the letter, home ministry sources said the letter harped on Ulfa’s old demands, regarding the demand for sovereignty and release of their top leaders before holding direct talks.

The letter, however, also conveyed Ulfa’s eagerness to have direct talks with Delhi.

Rajkhowa conveyed the demands through an e-mail to Goswami last night. She saw it this morning and went to meet Duggal thereafter.

“The Union home ministry’s response was very positive and I am hopeful that the talks will take place by the end of August,” said Goswami after coming out from the hourlong meeting with the Union home secretary, Intelligence Bureau director E.S.L. Narsimhan and other senior home ministry officials.

Duggal also placed certain points before Goswami for clarification from Ulfa. He said the clarifications should come to the government by August. Goswami, however refused to divulge these points.

Now that the Centre has hardened its stand on the issue of extortion, Ulfa is likely to establish direct contact soon, official sources said.

Direct talks between Delhi and the outfit could well be held by September or October.

Goswami has again been asked to convey the home ministry’s stand to Ulfa regarding direct talks ' to establish direct contact with either Union home minister Shivraj Patil or Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi.

This has to be coupled with an assurance on Ulfa’s part to create a peaceful atmosphere in the state.

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