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The ninth round of negotiations between the government and protesting farmers will take place on Friday. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar expressed hope that the discussions would be positive. "The government is ready to hold talks with farmers' leaders with an open mind," Tomar said amid confusion over the fate of the next round of talks, in the wake of the Supreme Court appointing a four-member panel to resolve the impasse.


Tomar said the talks between the government and the union representatives will take place as scheduled for 12 pm on January 15. Even as the farmers refused to appear before the court-appointed panel citing its composition, the unions have expressed willingness to attend the scheduled talks with the government.


Earlier on Thursday, Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann recused himself from the four-member committee, which has been accused by farmer unions and opposition parties as a "pro-government" panel. Mann said he is thankful to the apex court for nominating him on the panel but would give up any position to prevent farmers' interests from being compromised.


“As a farmer myself and a union leader, in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst the farm unions and the public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as to not compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country. I am recusing myself from the committee and I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab,” Mann said in a statement.

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