Continuing its efforts to resolve the insurgency problem in the northeast, the government will hold separate parleys on Thursday with negotiators from Assam and Nagaland.
The 11-member People's Consultative Group nominated by the ULFA will meet in New Delhi with a government team including Home Minister Shivraj Patil with an aim to facilitate "direct talks" between the banned group and the Centre.
A team of top leaders of the NSCN-IM will hold discussions with the Centre's representatives including Union Minister Oscar Fernandes at the Hague on the Naga rebel group's 30-point "charter of demands" and extension of the ceasefire in Nagaland beyond July 31.
The talks with the PCG are likely to centre around the ULFA's key demand to release five jailed leaders as for a pre-condition for direct talks as well as a recent spurt of violence in Assam that was blamed on the group.
"We are moving in the right direction and marching forward positively. We hope the government will invite the ULFA for direct talks very soon and all issues raised by the PCG will be settled," PCG member Lachit Bordoloi said on Thursday.
In the talks in the Netherlands, the NSCN-IM is likely to put pressure to get "some kind of concession" from New Delhi on its charter of demands, including autonomy for Nagaland, official sources said.
The NSCN-IM, which began talks with the government in 1997 after the two sides agreed to a ceasefire, is likely to submit a fresh proposal on the kind of autonomy it wants for evaluation by the Centre, they said.
An Assam government team led by Chief Secretary S Kabilan is understood to have briefed Union Home Ministry officials here today about the situation in the state, especially in the wake of a series of blasts this month that killed seven people and injured 25.
The state government team reportedly suggested that only threeof the five jailed ULFA leaders could be released. The Assam officials said ULFA ideologue Bhimakanta Buragohain, vice chairman Pradip Gogoi and cultural secretary Pranati Deka could be set free.
This issue was also reportedly brought to the notice of National Security Advisor MK Narayan, who is expected to attend Thursday's talks.
Another PCG member, noted writer Indira Goswami, said the group will attend the meeting with a positive attitude.
"We hope the government will discuss all relevent issues, including the release of prisoners, and pave the way for direct talks with the ULFA," Goswami said.
The NSCN-IM is expected to focus on "greater autonomy" for Nagaland since the government is reluctant to concede its key demand for unifying all Naga-inhabitated areas in the northeast.