The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Talks still on tightrope

Guwahati, Aug. 24: The banned Ulfa today reiterated that it was ready to hold “direct talks” if Delhi implemented the decisions taken at the third round of its discussions with the Peoples Consultative Group (PCG) in the capital on June 22.

“Our attention has been drawn to news reports about yesterday’s discussions between PCG coordinators and the Indian government. In this regard we would like to reiterate that we are ready to take the next step towards holding direct talks with the Centre if the decisions taken in the June 22 meeting are honoured,” Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa said today in identical telephonic statements to newspapers. “We have nothing new to say,” he added.

The Centre had reportedly agreed to consider the People’s Consultative Group (PCG)’s demand for the release of jailed Ulfa leaders to facilitate direct talks with the outfit during the meeting on June 22. Both sides also agreed to create a congenial atmosphere for dialogue.

Although both the Centre and Ulfa have since announced temporary suspension of hostilities, the government indicated yesterday that it wanted the participation of Rajkhowa and Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua in talks and the release of the jailed leaders to be simultaneous exercises.

Delhi has already guaranteed security to the top twoUlfa leaders if they come for talks.

Reacting to Ulfa’s statement, chief negotiator Mamoni Raisom Goswami said she had nothing to say on the latest development except hope for some positive outcome.

“Ulfa wants the release of jailed leaders before the commencement of talks. It is their stand. What can I say'” Goswami asked.

She, however, added that since Centre had agreed to extend the truce, there was still hope for a positive outcome.

PCG member Lachit Bordoloi said the group would be meeting in the next few days to review the latest developments.

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