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PM steps in, tries to soothe Cong leaders

New Delhi: Stepping in to defuse the Telangana crisis, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said he understands the separate statehood demand and gave an assurance that the Centre will make all efforts to find a solution to the contentious issue soon.

Meeting a delegation of Congress leaders from agitation-hit Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh, Singh also told them that he would talk to Congress President Sonia Gandhi in this regard and put all their demands before the party`s Core Committee.

As the general strike in Telangana entered its 22nd day, the leaders, including senior Minister J Geetha Reddy and K Jana Reddy, briefed Singh about the situation in the region and the "urgent need" for Centre`s intervention as people were not in a "mood even to celebrate upcoming festivals".

The delegation that included Ministers, MPs and an MLC told the Prime Minister that the Centre should announce a "time-frame" for taking a decision on the separate issue as "time is running out."

"We briefed the Prime Minister of what is happening in Andhra Pradesh, in Telangana region. He knows the Telangana issue and the problems. We briefed him in detail about the strike that is being supported by every section of the society," Geetha Reddy told reporters after the 30-minute meeting at the PM`s 7, Race Course Road Residence.

"He expressed his understanding and sympathies to us. He said we need to solve the problem. He also told us that we will try to solve it as soon as possible," Geetha Reddy said.

The leaders told Singh that they would assure that the safety and security of people of non-Telangana regions in Hyderabad would be protected if a separate Telangana state is formed.

They also asked Singh to advice Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy not to show "apathy" towards the Telangana region.

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