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ULFA leaders meet Gogoi, seek help for talks

Guwahati: Top ULFA leaders led by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa on Wednesday met Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and sought his cooperation to take forward the peace process with the Centre.

Rajkhowa and seven other leaders met the Chief Minister at his official residence on the eve of talks with a central team led by Union Home Secretary G K Pillai tomorrow.

Gogoi told reporters after the meeting that this was the first time a Chief Minister had met the ULFA leadership "officially and face-to-face".

"I hope talks with the Centre is successful and they discussed with me how to take the peace process forward", Gogoi said.

Asked whether the ULFA leaders had presented their demands before him, Gogoi said, "They will tell the Centre about their demands".

Rajkhowa told reporters their meeting with the Chief Minister was "primarily a courtesy call before the talks".

"We urged the Chief Minister to speed up the process in New Delhi and sought his cooperation to take the peace process to the next phase. The modalities for the talks have not been worked out so far and will come later", he said.

Besides Rajkhowa, the other leaders of the outfit present in the meeting were Vice Chairman Pradip Gogoi, political advisor Bhimakanta Buragohain, Foreign Secretary Sasha Choudhury, Finance Secretary Chitrabon Hazarika, Cultural Secretary Pranati Deka, Publicity Secretary Mithinga Daimary and Deputy Commander-in Raju Barua.

The ULFA leaders were likely to call upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram though the dates were yet to be fixed.

The ULFA leaders released from jail recently have decided to hold unconditional talks with the government but the faction led by outfit`s Commander-in-chief Paresh Barua was opposed to it.

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