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Naga talks in Amsterdam on Monday

The talks with Nagaland's dominant separatist group aim at ending the nearly six-decades of insurgency.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2006 14:06 IST

Government negotiators are beginning fresh talks on Monday in Amsterdam with Nagaland's dominant separatist group aimed at ending the nearly six-decades of insurgency.

Officials led by Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes and New Delhi's main peace interlocutor K Padmanabhaiah will meet leaders of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM).

"The talks are expected to continue for at least two days. The agenda is being worked out in consultation with NSCN-IM," a home ministry official said by telephone from New Delhi.

The NSCN-IM and the government entered into a ceasefire in August 1997. This has been renewed regularly. The present ceasefire expires in June 2007.

During talks in October, the rebels had proposed "a special federal arrangement" to enable the Nagas self-governance but the negotiations ended inconclusively.

"It was agreed in the last meeting to explore and discuss our demand for a special federal relationship between India and Nagalim (Greater Nagaland) that allows us self-governance," NSCN-IM leader RH Raising told.

"The parameters for the Amsterdam talks would be confined to this core issue of a special federal arrangement."

The NSCN-IM is seeking a separate Naga constitution under the special federal relationship that it has proposed.

"We would, however, allow the international borders to be jointly guarded by Indian security forces and Naga soldiers so as not to jeopardise the security interests of India," another rebel leader said.

The NSCN-IM has been struggling for nearly six decades to create a "Greater Nagaland" by slicing off parts of three neighbouring states to unite 1.2 million Nagas. The demand is opposed by Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

The rebel leadership blamed New Delhi for failing to meet their demands nine years after the ceasefire.

"The progress of the talks is very slow paced. We cannot be always patient as there is a limit to everything though we believe in a political solution to our problem rather than a military one," Raising said.

India and NSCN-IM have held more than 50 rounds of peace talks in the past nine years to end one of South Asia's longest-running insurgencies that has claimed around 25,000 lives since 1947.