New Delhi, Feb 11 (ANI): Union Government on Thursday appointed R S Pandey as the new interlocutor to facilitate talks with the banned National Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM).
Pandey, a 1972 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, belongs to Nagaland cadre.
Pandey has been the Union Petroleum Secretary and retired only recently in January 2010.
Announcing Pandey's appointment Union Home Minister P Chidambaram also welcomed NSCN (IM)'s decision to hold talks with the Government.
"The Government of India welcomes the decision of the NSCN (IM) leadership to visit India and to hold talks with the Government. I am happy to announce the appointment of Shri R.S.Pandey, IAS (Retd.) as the Interlocutor and the Representative of the Government of India to hold talks with the NSCN (IM)," Chidambaram said.
With the appointment of the new interlocutor to facilitate the talks the people of Nagaland are awaiting for an early solution to the long drawn problem.
On Tuesday, addressing the 58th meeting of the North Eastern Council (NEC) Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said that the Centre would appoint an interlocutor later this week for facilitating the peace talks.
The peace process with the NSCN (I-M) was started in 1997 by putting in place a ceasefire arrangement.
Former Union Home Secretary Padmanabhaiah was appointed as interlocutor in July 1999 initially for a year and his tenure was extended every year till 2009.
Since then, over 50 rounds of talks were held between Centre and Naga groups, but could not achieve any breakthrough.
In 2009, the Centre did not extend the tenure of Padmanabhaiah, and held direct talks with the NSCN (I-M) top brass.
According to Home Ministry, on the invitation of the Centre, the NSCN (I-M) leadership has proposed to come to India between April 1 and 10 to hold talks and carry forward the peace process.
To that end, the government of India will be appointing an interlocutor to facilitate the talks and to bring about an early solution."
All the three groups - NSCN(I-M), NSCN(Khaplang) and the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) - have been meeting under public pressure on the Forum for Naga Reconciliation platform.
They have so far held seven summits in Tahialand's Chiangmai. (ANI)