Peace talks between NSCN (IM) leader and Centre held

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Kohima, June 2 (ANI): The Centre and the NSCN (IM) on Tuesday held peace talks for the first time in Nagaland where the contentious issue of the integration of Naga-inhabited areas, as demanded by the rebel outfit, was discussed.

Former Chief Secretary of Nagaland, R S Pandey, representing the Government of India met NSCN-IM General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah.

Muivah said, "Integration is a natural aspiration of the Naga people, we believe the Government of India also understands it and hope they will solve this issue in due course of time."

Pandey expressed the commitment of the Government of India to explore all possibilities to arrive at a mutual consensus.

"Without political consensus, the boundaries of the state cannot be changed. That is the position of the Government of India. Yet we take note of Naga aspirations and let us see how we make progress and try to get agreed conclusions," he said.

On May 6, at Mao Gate in Senapati district, a clash between the state police and supporters of an ethnic Naga leaders, left two students killed and 50 to 60 others injured.

The people were up in arms against the state government's decision to not to allow Thuingaleng Muivah, the leader of National Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isak Muivah (NSCN - IM), to visit his ancestral village.

The Central Government has, however, said that it is looking forward to having a second round of talks with NSCN-IM leadership in Nagaland to end the stalemate over Muivah"s resolve to visit his birthplace.

The NSCN-IM had agreed to a ceasefire in August 1997 and launched a peace process with the Central Government to bring an end to the longest-running insurgency in India.

The rebel group has participated in several rounds of talks with central officials since the start of the ceasefire.

But talks between the two sides have not made progress over the rebels' main demand of unification and eventual independence of Naga-dominated areas in northeast India. (ANI)

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