The Centre on Tuesday told the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) that integration of Naga-inhabited areas would need consensus among the States concerned, as boundaries would have to be altered

The Centre on Tuesday told the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) that integration of Naga-inhabited areas would need consensus among the States concerned, as boundaries would have to be altered. The NSCN (IM) reiterated that integration of Naga-inhabited areas was a “natural aspiration of the Naga people” and hoped New Delhi would solve this issue in due course.

New Delhi's position was explained by the Centre's interlocutor on the peace talks, R.S. Pandey, during peace talks with the NSCN (IM) in Nagaland's capital Kohima. Both sides expressed their commitment to finding an early negotiated settlement to the Naga problem.

Assam, Nagaland and Manipur have been strongly opposing inclusion of any Naga-inhabited areas in the States in the proposed Nagalim — the single administrative entity to be created by integrating all Naga inhabited areas, which the NSCN (IM) has been proposing.

This is the first time that Naga peace talks were held in Nagaland since the NSCN (IM) signed a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 1997. Mr. Pandey was accompanied by Special Director, Intelligence Bureau (IB) Ajit Lal, while the 12-member NSCN (IM) delegation was led by its general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah.

Mr. Pandey told journalists that based on proposals submitted by the NSCN (IM), discussions were held on a wide range of issues and both sides expressed a commitment to explore all possibilities to arrive at consensus on certain issues which were “sensitive in nature.” He said both sides hoped that they would be able to hammer out a solution in due course.

Mr. Muivah described the talks as “significant,” and added that the NSCN(IM) had noticed more seriousness and sincerity on part of the Centre for finding a negotiated settlement on the basis of the “unique rights, history and situation” of the Naga people. He said the NSCN(I-M) was determined to explore all means towards finding a negotiated settlement by removing obstacles.

Mr. Pandey is also understood to have conveyed the Centre's invitation to Mr. Muivah for the next round of peace talks in Delhi. Mr. Muivah, however, told the Centre's interlocutor that he would need to consult his people on it.

However, no concrete information was provided to the journalists on whether the two sides held any discussion on the current impasse over the proposed visit of Mr. Muivah to his birthplace Somdal in Ukhrul district of Manipur. The economic blockade enforced by the All-Naga Student's Association (Manipur) on NH 39 and NH 53 in protest against holding of Autonomous District Council polls in the hill districts of Manipur were intensified after the Manipur government banned the entry of Mr. Muivah.