The Centre today said the peace initiatives with banned ULFA has started in the "right direction" as some very senior leaders of the outfit have backed a negotiated settlement to end the decades-old insurgency problem in Assam.
Minister for Development of Northeastern Eastern Region B K Handique said the peace initiative is being taken forward by the Assam Government after a go ahead from Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.
"It (the peace initiative) has started in the right direction. We are hopeful of a positive outcome," Handique said adding that he has also discussed the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Reviving the peace initiative, the Government last week had appointed former Intelligence Bureau chief P C Haldar to act as interlocutor for the negotiations.
Asked whether talks will be fruitful without the group's 'military chief' Paresh Barua, Handique said Barua has not yet indicated his willingness for the peace initiative.
"Some very important leaders (of ULFA) have surrendered in the last one year. They want the peace initiative to move forward," the Union Minister said.
On whether Centre will consider giving amnesty to top ULFA leaders currently lodged in various jails in Assam, he said the issue may be considered during talks.
A delegation of prominent academicians, writers, retired police and army officers, rights leaders and intellectuals from Assam had earlier this week met the Prime and requested him to move forward on the peace talks with ULFA.
Noting that Centre is committed to improving the road network in Northeast, he said DONER Ministry has finalised a road project at an estimated cost of Rs 1,500 crore to build 522 kms of roads in the region.
"The proposal will be presented to the Cabinet soon," he said adding the Asian Development Bank would provide 70 per cent of the money as loan for the project.