Guwahati: The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Wednesday said it was ready for negotiations with New Delhi`s chief interlocutor PC Haldar to give a push to the deadlocked peace process in Assam.
"We are ready to hold preliminary discussions with the interlocutor either inside jail or outside and would extend all support and cooperation to him so that the peace talks could begin," Bhimkanta Buragohain, ULFA`s 75-year-old political ideologue, said outside a court premises in the northern town of Tezpur.
Buragohain, the senior most ULFA leader, is in judicial custody since his arrest in 2003.
The ULFA leader`s reaction comes on a day when P.C. Haldar, former director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), arrived in Guwahati on a three-day visit to explore possibilities of opening peace talks with the ULFA.
"I am here to prepare grounds for talks and during my stay I would be meeting several people who matter, including civil society leaders," Haldar told journalists.
Haldar was last week formally appointed as New Delhi`s chief interlocutor for talks with ULFA.
Barring ULFA`s elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, the entire top brass of the outfit is in jail. The imprisoned leaders include chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika, cultural secretary Pranati Deka, and Bhimkanta Buragohain.
Two other leaders - ULFA vice chairman Pradip Gogoi and publicity chief Mithinga Daimary - are currently out on bail and engaged in drumming up public support for opening peace talks.
Most of the jailed leaders have expressed their willingness to open peace talks with the government.
"Everybody should respect the wishes of the people of Assam for peace talks and we have no problems from our side to hold talks with the government," Buragohain said.
"There is no Hitler in ULFA and so even Paresh Baruah would have to accept the collective decision of the organization if it decides to open talks with the government," the veteran ULFA leader said.