The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has formally expressed its willingness to open peace talks with the government to end more than three decades of violent insurgency in the state, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Sunday said.
"We have got a formal communication from the ULFA regarding holding peace talks," the chief minister told journalists.
Gogoi, however, refused to elaborate whether it was a formal letter or who communicated the ULFA's expression of interests for talks.
"I don't want to tell if it is a letter or anything but I can only say that we have got a formal communication from a top leader who matters in the outfit," he said.
There was a deadlock in opening peace talks between the two sides with the chief minister reiterating the government stand that the ULFA should first formally express their interest for peace talks.
Almost the entire ULFA top brass are now in jail - chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika, cultural secretary Pranati Deka, and political ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.
ULFA vice chairman Pradeep Gogoi and publicity chief Mithinga Daimary are out on bail and now drumming up public opinion for peace talks.
The only top ULFA leader is their self-styled commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah who still remains elusive and believed to be somewhere on the Myanmar-China border.
"We also appeal to Paresh Baruah to come and join the peace process. Efforts are also on with other military commanders of the ULFA to get them into the negotiating process," the chief minister said.
From the tone and tenor of the chief minister, it appeared the formal communication from the ULFA has come in from the jailed leadership.
"I am not going to specify details of the developments," Gogoi said.