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Assam ready for talks with ULFA within 24 hours
Published on 23 Dec. 2009 12:51 AM IST
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The government was ready to hold talks with the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) “within 24 hours” if the outfit gives a written assurance that it will abjure violence and give up the demand for sovereignty, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said Tuesday. “From our side we are ready to begin talks within 24 hours, but there should be no preconditions from the ULFA. Let them give us in writing expressing their willingness to hold talks by shunning the path of violence,” the chief minister told journalists here. Gogoi rejected ULFA’s demand for discussing the sovereignty issue. “One thing is clear that there cannot be talks on the issue of sovereignty. Otherwise, doors for peace talks are wide open,” the chief minister said. Gogoi said there were no back channel negotiations on with arrested ULFA chief Arabinda Rajkhowa for furthering the deadlocked peace process. “There are no talks on at this stage with any ULFA leader. But we are hopeful of a political settlement,” he said. Earlier, there were hopes that the peace process would get a boost after the arrest of the ULFA chairman and other senior leaders. Rajkhowa is in police custody since his arrest Nov 5 from somewhere near Dawki in Meghalaya, bordering Bangladesh. “We cannot hold talks if they (ULFA) continue to indulge in violent activities. First and foremost thing is that they should stop senseless killings,” Gogoi said. The ULFA leadership is insisting on their demand for sovereignty or independence with their elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah making it clear that they were ready for peace talks with New Delhi if the government agrees to discuss their core demand.

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