Bhubaneswar: The talks between Maoist mediators and Odisha government representatives began on Thursday to resolve the eight-day old crisis triggered by the ultras taking two Italians hostage.
   
The negotiation began shortly after the arrival of former bureaucrat and social activist B D Sharma, one of the nominees of the Maoists to hold talks with state government mediators, official sources said.
   
"I am optimistic about the outcome of the talks during which a wide range of issues are to be discussed," Sharma told reporters here.
   
Civil rights activist Dandapani Mohanty also joined the talks on behalf of the rebels, who had taken Italians, Puri-based tour operator Paolo Bosusco and tourist Claudio Colangelo, hostage while they were trekking in Kandhamal district on March 14.
   
The negotiations began without a third mediator from the rebel side as Maoists did not want to wait.
   
The state government was represented by Principal Secretary (Home) U N Behera, Panchayatiraj Secretary P K Jena and Secretary in ST and SC Department S K Sarangi.
   
Talks to end the hostage crisis had failed to take off earlier as the Maoists unable to find negotiators, official sources said.
   
They said earlier two of mediators named by the rebels had declined to participate

(Agencies)