`Naga peace talks nearing settlement`

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DIMAPUR, December 18 (agencies): NSCN-IM general secretary Th Muivah has indicated that the dialogue with the Government of India (GoI) on the decades-old protracted Indo-Naga issue is on the verge of reaching a meeting point for an honourable settlement acceptable to all.

“We have almost come to a meeting point…you know, their (GoI) position is clear to us, ours is also equally clear to them,” Muivah said during a five-minute interaction with the media here at Dimapur Airport upon his arrival here on Saturday.

However, the NSCN-IM general secretary sought to make it clear that the ball remains in the court of the Government of India. “They have to take the initiative and we are waiting for that,” Muivah stated, providing an indicator that both parties have finally come to a certain level of agreement for settlement of the Naga issue.

Earlier this week, on December 13, Muivah and NSCN-IM chairman Isak Chishi Swu had met Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and interlocutor RS Pandey in New Delhi to discuss the ongoing peace process. After the meeting, Muivah had told reporters that “things have become much clearer now.”

During the month of July, the NSCN-IM and the GoI had made a similar joint announcement stating that they have narrowed down differences and are trying to come to a settlement in the shortest time possible.

When queried on media reports of the GoI offering maximum autonomy to Nagaland under provisions of the Indian Constitution or the so called ‘Supra State status’ which has created quite a furore in neighbouring States, the NSCN-IM general secretary denied the existence of such a proposal while maintaining that the “report is only what the press people are saying” and not from the Centre.

“Not from Government of India. Why, because we know. They (GoI) are also trying their best despite their difficulties, and even then they are trying to work through. We (NSCN-IM) are also trying on our side,” he responded.

On being asked to comment on the United Naga Council demand for an alternative arrangement outside the Government of Manipur, Muivah merely termed it as a ‘side issue.’

“Our issue is our rights and integration. All the Nagas must live together,” he said.

When asked if there was any particular reason for him coming to Dimapur, he replied, “Naga laga homeland ase, Naga manu ase, moi kile nahibo?” (This is Naga people’s homeland; I am a Naga, so why shouldn’t I come?).

NSCN-IM chairman Isak Chishi Swu had reached Dimapur earlier on December 15. The leader, who is reported to have been ailing for some time, was seen being wheeled out in a wheelchair on arrival at Dimapur Airport.

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