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Guwahati/Shillong: Assam and Meghalaya are making “positive progress” in resolving their longstanding inter-state boundary disputes through dialogue and mutually acceptable solutions are expected soon, chief ministers of the two northeastern states said on Wednesday.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma hosted his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma here for a meeting to discuss the progress in resolving the border disputes between the two neighbours.

This is the second chief ministerial-level meeting between the two states over the issue in two months, and the fourth since Sarma assumed power in Assam in May this year.

“We have been continuously striving to resolve border issues with our neighbours,” Sarma tweeted at the end of the meeting.

“Our regional committees have submitted their reports & we are working towards a final agreement on many disputed border areas. I am confident that gradually we will be able to resolve all-long pending border issues with Meghalaya & other neighbouring states,” Sarma added, also referring to Assam’s border disputes with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

Sounding optimistic on the progress made so far, Sangma also took to Twitter to inform that discussion on the six points of disputes that are being pursued in the first phase for boundary row resolution between the two states was held during Wednesday evening’s meeting.

“We have made considerable positive progress through our joint dialogue & hope to arrive at an amicable solution shortly,” Sangma tweeted.

The chief ministers were accompanied by several cabinet ministers of their respective states, who are members of the regional committees formed by the two states to look into the six points of disputes under perusal at present.

Three committees each were formed by the two state governments in August this year after two rounds of talks between Sarma and Sangma to resolve the vexed border disputes in a phased manner.

Out of the total 12 points of disputes, six areas with relatively less critical differences have been taken up in the first phase, with the remaining locations to be pursued later.

Emerging from the meeting, Assam Border Area Development Minister Atul Bora said, “Both the chief ministers have displayed strong political will and we are hopeful of resolution of these long pending disputes soon.”

He said, “much progress” was made in the discussions over the reports of the regional committees at the meeting and the two chief ministers will hold the next round of discussion in the matter before January 15.

Deputy Meghalaya Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said that the three border committees were asked to submit their reports by December 31 so that both the state governments are able to resolve the phase I dialogue by January 15.

“Today, we had a productive meeting. Both the chief ministers have decided to conclude the Phase I dialogue by January 15. We may have to sit down for two more times,” Tynsong told PTI.

The deputy chief minister, however, expressed optimism that although the governments may not be in a position to solve all the six areas of difference, few areas will be resolved.

“I am confident that at least some areas will be resolved within January 15,” he added.

Sarma and Sangma, at a joint press conference here on November 16, had said they are targeting to settle their longstanding inter-state boundary disputes at the six locations by the end of this year.

“Going by the spirit and pace, we are looking to issue a final statement on these six areas by December 30,” Sarma had said, adding that the entire exercise is being monitored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and the two states will be “guided by them” before issuing the final statement.

The six disputed areas that are being pursued in the first phase fall under Kamrup, Kamrup Metropolitan and Hailakandi districts on the Assam side, he added.

Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972 and it had challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, leading to disputes related to 12 areas in different parts of the shared 884.9-km-long border.

Also read | Pressure on border residents of Assam to choose Meghalaya: Minister

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