ULFA to begin peace talks with Centre

New Delhi, Feb 10 (ANI): The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) will finally begin talks with the Central Government here today in a bid to usher in peace in the insurgency-hit Assam.

The talks, the third such engagement between the banned insurgent group and the Centre in nearly two decades, will be held minus any conditions.

An eight-member ULFA delegation led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, will sit for negotiations with Union Home Secretary G K Pillai.

Before meeting Pillai, the ULFA leaders will also have an introductory meeting with Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.

Earlier, top leaders of the separatist group met Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and sought his cooperation in carrying forward the peace process with the Central Government.

"I hope talks with the Centre is successful and they discussed with me how to take the peace process forward," Gogoi told reporters after the meeting, and added that this was the first time a Chief Minister had met the ULFA leadership "officially and face-to-face".

"They will tell the Centre about their demands," he said, when asked whether the ULFA leaders had put forward their demands before him.

ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, who met Gogoi at his official residence along with seven other leaders, said the meeting with the Chief Minister was "primarily a courtesy call before the talks".

"We urged the Chief Minister to speed up the process in New Delhi and sought his cooperation to take the peace process to the next phase. The modalities for the talks have not been worked out so far and will come later," he added.

The other leaders of the separatist group present in the meeting were Vice Chairman Pradip Gogoi, Political Advisor Bhimakanta Buragohain, Foreign Secretary Sasha Choudhury, Finance Secretary Chitrabon Hazarika, Cultural Secretary Pranati Deka, Publicity Secretary Mithinga Daimary and Deputy Commander-in Raju Barua.

Gogoi had on January 20 said the peace talks with ULFA is on the right track and will continue even without the separatist group"s commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah. (ANI)

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