Government negotiators and leaders of Nagaland's dominant separatist group ended three days of talks in Amsterdam with a resolve to resume discussions early next year to bring the curtains down on nearly six decades of insurgency in the northeastern state.
Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes and main peace interlocutor K Padmanabhaiah headed the government team in the discussions that ended Wednesday. Guerrilla leader T Muivah headed the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isaak Muivah (INSCN-IM), the main rebel group in the state.
"The two parties held a series of discussions on outstanding issues and agreed to resume discussions early next year. We are hopeful of making further progress in resolving those issues," a joint communiqué signed by Padmanabhaiah and Muivah said.
The NSCN-IM and the government entered into a ceasefire in August 1997. This has been renewed regularly. The present ceasefire expires June 2007.
The NSCN had in October proposed "a special federal arrangement" that enables the Nagas self-governance although the negotiations ended inconclusively. It is also seeking a separate Naga constitution under a special federal tie up.
"We have reiterated our demands for a special federal arrangement. We were told that our demands will be taken up again in talks in January," a NSCN-IM leader said.
"We have made our point very clear that delaying the peace process would be counter productive as the Nagas are getting restive."
The NSCN-IM is seeking a "Greater Nagaland" by slicing off parts of three neighbouring states to unite 1.2 million Nagas. Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam oppose this.
New Delhi 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.