New interlocutor for talks with NSCN (IM)

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) The government Thursday appointed former petroleum secretary R.S. Pandey as its new interlocutor to facilitate dialogue with the major insurgent outfit, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM).

Pandey has been chosen for the assignment as he has served as chief secretary in Nagaland and is said to have a good grasp of the issues that have led to the long spell of insurgency in this north-eastern border state, government officials said.

The deadlocked peace talks between New Delhi and the Isak-Muivah faction of the NSCN will resume in April after more than a year.

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

The NSCN-IM, led by guerrilla leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, had entered into a ceasefire with the Indian government in August 1997.

K. Padmanabhaiah, a former home secretary, had served as interlocutor for talks with NSCN-IM for a decade.

He was first appointed as interlocutor for Naga talks in July 1999 for one year but kept getting extensions.

Last year, the government chose not to extend his term and instead decided it would hold direct negotiations with the rebels to find a lasting solution to the vexed issue of insurgency in Nagaland.

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