It is still uncertain when the ordeal of Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo would end as the two mediators, who were holding talks with the Odisha government for his release from Maoist captivity, ended the negotiation process on Saturday.

The mediators named by the Maoists, B.D. Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty, who had been holding negotiations with three government officials, closed the negotiation process with an appeal to the Maoists' Odisha State Organising Committee to free Mr. Paolo on humanitarian considerations.

Starting the talks on March 22, the mediators spent most of their time waiting, to know the government's response on the 13 demands made by the Maoists.

As the government kept on saying that the demands were being examined, the two decided to wind up the negotiations.

In a joint statement issued to the media, Mr. Sharma and Mr. Mohanty, however, appreciated the State government for taking a serious view of the complex issues that were plaguing the tribal areas.

Mr. Paolo had been kidnapped along with Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo from Kandhamal district on March 14. The Maoists had released Mr. Colangelo on March 25 as a goodwill gesture.

On the other hand, abducted BJD legislator Jhina Hikaka's whereabouts continued to remain unknown.