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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Indian state opens Maoist talks
Ramakrishna and Maoist leaders in Hyderabad
Ramakrishna (C), with other Maoist leaders, gets down to talks
The first day of historic talks between the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and a Maoist rebel group has ended in Hyderabad.

The state's interior minister, K Jana Reddy, met a delegation from the People's War Group (PWG).

Rebel leader Ramakrishna and Mr Reddy described the talks as friendly and cordial. They resume on Saturday.

There was broad agreement on a truce but differences on whether Maoists could bear arms in villages.

Mr Ramakrishna said a ceasefire would continue as long as the talks did.

Mr Reddy said that as long as the question of carrying weapons in villages existed, there could not be a full truce agreement.

Other items on the agenda include land distribution and development.

The talks are scheduled for two or three days.

"If there's forward movement, it can be extended for a few more days," Mr Reddy said.

Limited expectations

The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal in Delhi says the talks are being carefully watched across India.

She says other states faced with Maoist rebellion are keen to see if they too can bring the rebels to the negotiating table.

People's War Group state secretary Akkiraju Haragopal, alias Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna says ending the armed struggle is not negotiable

Mr Ramakrishna said: "Similar talks can be held in other states too if the state governments are willing to create an atmosphere for such negotiations."

But the BBC's Omer Farooq in Hyderabad said the closed-door negotiations were taking place with limited expectations.

Other than the rebels and the eight-member government team, there are eight mediators, including human rights activists, intellectuals, academicians and newspaper editors.

Mr Ramakrishna wore an olive cap with a red star as he arrived on Friday at the government building being used for the talks.

He has said the meetings will be helpful in solving some problems but the main issue of power for ordinary people could be achieved through armed struggle alone.

The PWG formally merged with the Maoist Communist Centre on Thursday to become the united Communist Party of India (Maoist).

It said its first task was to bring together the armed wings of the PWG and the Maoist Communist Centre into a "full-fledged People's Liberation Army".

The PWG was founded in 1980 and since then has been waging an armed struggle for the creation of a communist state comprising the tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar and Chhattisgarh.

More than 6,000 people have died in violence over the past two decades.


SEE ALSO:
Key Indian Maoist groups unite
08 Oct 04  |  South Asia
Date set for India Maoist talks
05 Oct 04  |  South Asia
Huge turnout for Indian Maoists
30 Sep 04  |  South Asia
Top Maoist killed in West Bengal
22 Sep 04  |  South Asia
Nepal premier seeks Indian help
09 Sep 04  |  South Asia
Ban lifted on Indian Maoist group
21 Jul 04  |  South Asia
India's Maoist revolutionaries
08 Apr 04  |  South Asia


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