The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hope floats in talks

New Delhi, March 29: The frustrations of recent times gave way to hope as the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) resumed its dialogue with Delhi today.

Sensing the increasing anxiety within the rebel group over the Naga impasse and the possibility of a volatile situation in the Northeast, Delhi agreed to go by a roadmap for a permanent solution to the Naga problem, sources said.

Usually suspicious about the government’s motives, even the NSCN (I-M) conceded that the discussions between the government delegation and the Naga leadership — both Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah are here for the dialogue — showed a beacon of hope.

“There was mutual acceptance of each other’s stand and rights. I can say there has been progress and if we go ahead this way, there will be a solution,” V.S. Atem, special emissary of the NSCN (I-M) leadership, told The Telegraph.

The last time the NSCN (I-M) spoke in such positive terms was when former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee admitted that the Naga issue was “unique”. The word was repeatedly used by the outfit in the subsequent years to tom-tom the Naga community’s “unique history”.

Asked if the spirit of “mutual acceptance” had grown over the years, Atem said it did not even exist until now.

Sources in the government confirmed that the talks were held in a “cordial atmosphere”.

The apprehensions of the NSCN (I-M) stem from the fact that Delhi has been careful not to antagonise Manipur vis-à-vis the Naga issue. The outfit has also been accusing the government of using its rival, the NSCN (Khaplang), against it.

No date was set for the second round of talks.

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