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Ulfa talks to resume, says Chidambaram

Agartala, May 17: Union home minister P. Chidambaram has expressed the hope that the Centre’s peace talks with Ulfa, stalled by the Assembly elections, is set to resume soon.

Even Ulfa chief Paresh Barua is “welcome to take part” in the talks, provided he returned to India and joined the mainstream, the minister added during the foundation stone laying ceremony of the integrated checkpost at Akhaura here today.

“The process to restore peace in Assam through discussion with the Ulfa leaders had been initiated earlier and now after the polls it will resume and be carried forward in a positive manner,” said Chidambaram.

On Paresh Barua’s possible participation in the peace talks, Chidambaram said Barua was abroad and cannot participate from there.

“Our doors are open. We urge him to return and rejoin the mainstream. If he is interested in holding peace talks with the Centre, he is most welcome,” he said.

A leader of the Arabinda Rajkhowa group of Ulfa said they were yet to finalise their charter of demands.

“We are not ready to start the talks yet as we are in the process of finalising the agenda,” he said, adding discussions on the proposals prepared by the Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan were on.

On the prolonged peace talks with the NSCN (I-M), Chidambaram said, “There are areas of agreements but at the same time there are differences but the talks are on and we are hopeful of a breakthrough.”

On insurgency in Manipur, the home minister said the United Naga Council (UNC) was engaged in a peace process with the Centre but the Meitei groups were outside the purview of the peace process. “There is one group among the Meiteis which has evinced an interest in the peace process but nothing concrete has emerged so far,” said Chidambaram. The home minister, who is scheduled to visit Mizoram tomorrow, said the repatriation of the Reang refugees stranded in Tripura would be completed soon.

“The Mizoram government is now taking positive measures to rehabilitate the Reang refugees and if weather permits I will visit at least one village where Reangs from Tripura have been resettled. I would, however, appeal to the Reangs still stranded in Tripura to return to their homeland,” said Chidambaram.

The home minister appreciated the Bangladesh government’s co-operation in tracing and driving back anti-Indian militants from their country and also dismantling the militant hideouts.

“We got splendid co-operation from the Bangladesh government and with their help and co-operation we have been able to curb the activities of militants. We look forward to a very positive and warm relationship with neighbouring Bangladesh,” he added.

He said of the 13 integrated checkposts being built by the Centre as many as seven would come up along the Indo-Bangla border.

“These integrated checkposts will have state-of-the-art facilities and will help in larger volume of trade and human movement. We attach great importance to improved relation with Bangladesh,” said Chidambaram.

The home minister also visited the Assam Rifles ground and held a security review with senior officers of police and paramilitary forces.

He is scheduled to attend a dinner hosted by chief minister Manik Sarkar.

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