The government on Wednesday welcomed a unilateral ceasefire offer of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) with a pledge that the peace gesture would be reciprocated with a similar initiative soon.
Home minister P Chidambaram said in a statement that the government "welcomes the announcement made by Ulfa that it has resolved to cease all forms of armed campaign for an indefinite period".
Chidambaram, a day after the Ulfa announcement, said the government was "confident" that it would contribute to peace and normalcy in Assam.
"It is expected that a suspension of operation (ceasefire) agreement will be finalised in the near future. The government of India in consultation with the government of Assam will facilitate an early start to the talks (with Ulfa)," the home minister said.
Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa said in a statement Tuesday: "Ulfa, with a view to explore a lasting peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict, resolves to cease all forms of armed campaign for an indefinite period."
However, the terror outfit's elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah and his band of followers, believed to be hiding somewhere along the Myanmar-China border, are still opposed to the peace talks.
Ulfa is a rebel group fighting for an independent homeland in Assam since 1979. The insurgency claimed some 10,000 lives in the past two decades.
Barring Baruah, the entire top brass of the outfit is overground, on bail after most of them were captured in Bangladesh in 2009. Some were nabbed in Assam and elsewhere in India.
After the release on bail of chairman Rajkhowa and other top leaders in December 2010, the Ulfa leadership held several rounds of informal talks with New Delhi's chief peace interlocutor PC Haldar.
Rajkhowa and the other Ulfa leaders also had a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram earlier this year.
The home minister said the state and central governments "have been in touch with the leaders of the organisation".