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Continue dialogue in Nagaland: Vajpayee
October 27, 2003 23:00 IST
Making his first visit to Nagaland, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Monday favoured continuance of political dialogue in the state.
Launching the BSNL mobile telephone service in Kohima, he said, "Let the talks continue, let the dialogue proceed, let distances be removed, let confidence be built. Let us together create peace and accelerate development."
The prime minister introduced the cell phone service in the state by directly talking to Union Communications Minister Arun Shourie in New Delhi in the presence of Nagaland Governor Shyamal Datta, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and other dignitaries.
Later Vajpayee reviewed the political situation and progress of developmental activities in Nagaland in the backdrop of on-going Naga peace process and the mounting campaign by NGOs for an integrated Naga administrative area.
He held separate meetings with the governor, the chief minister and the state council of ministers accompanied by senior civil and police officials after his arrival at Raj Bhavan from Dimapur.
The prime minister later attended a cultural extravaganza by local tribal groups at a banquet hosted by the governor.
Due to inclement weather, Vajpayee's arrival at Kohima was delayed by nearly three hours as his entourage had to travel on the bumpy and serpentine 75 km stretch of NH-39 from Dimapur airport after the flight by helicopter was called off.
The chief minister submitted a memorandum to the prime minister asking for speeding up of peace talks with Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) for an early settlement of the protracted political conflict and also informed him about the steps taken by Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government to strengthen the peace process.
Rio also urged Vajpayee to sanction projects for development of infrastructure, human resource development particularly in the field of technical education and schemes for generation of employment in the state, official sources said.
Vajpayee was accompanied by three Union ministers C P Thakur, Bijoya Chakraborty and Ashok Pradhan.
Earlier in the day, thousands of Nagas from neighbouring Manipur stood on the road to welcome the Prime Minister on his maiden three-day visit to Nagaland, expressing their solidarity with the Nagas of Nagaland demanding integration of all Naga inhabited areas of the region as part of a settlement to the decades old political problem.
Although earlier hundreds of school children stood on the roadside defying inclement weather to welcome Vajpayee, they left the streets due to delay in his arrival from Dimapur.
Cultural troupes in their traditional costumes representing different Naga tribes of the state accorded a rousing reception to Vajpayee outside the Raj Bhavan premises when he arrived at the capital town by road from Dimapur.
The prime minister will inaugurate the newly constructed Indira Gandhi stadium on Tuesday in the outskirts of the town where he will be accorded a public reception.
Vajpayee will also attend the first convocation of Nagaland University at the civil secretariat in the afternoon before meeting delegations of political parties and Naga NGOs.