Naga leaders meet Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 2 (Calcutta Tube) Leaders of a frontline Naga separatist outfit Tuesday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after several rounds of talks with a government-appointed interlocutor, a separatist leader said.

The top leadership of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) is here for the peace talks which resumes after a gap of nearly a year.

‘The leaders are in a meeting with the Prime Minister at his residence. We hope the talks will be honest and sincere,’ V.S. Atem, convener of the steering committee of the NSCN-IM, told IANS.

Atem said the rebel group’s general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah was leading the delegation that arrived here Saturday night from self-imposed exile in the Netherlands.

The NSCN-IM has been invited by the government for peace talks. The rebel leaders, Atem said, have been speaking to the government’s new pointsman R.S. Pandey, a former petroleum secretary. They will also call on Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

‘We are hopeful, very optimistic…but no compromise on our right to sovereignty. We have not given up and will never give up the demand for our independence,’ Atem said.

The NSCN-IM is fighting for the expansion of the mountainous Nagaland state into a ‘Greater Nagaland’ and carve out an independent state with a promise to maintain federal relations with India.

The NSCN-IM’s demand for a ‘Greater Nagaland’ would unite over 1.2 million Nagas in northeast India. But the demand has been strongly opposed by the neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

The last round of peace talks between the government and the separatist group was held in March 2009 in Zurich, Switzerland and ended in a stalemate.

The NSCN-IM had entered into a ceasefire accord with the Indian government in August 1997. They have held 67 rounds of talks with the government so far.

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