Canada's natives to win self-government rights

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Ottawa (Reuter) - Canada's provincial premiers, advancing national unity talks with Quebec, have agreed to grant 500,000 native peoples the right to govern themselves within five years. The agreement, which must be ratified by provincial legislatures, removed a further hurdle in talks on constitutional reforms aimed at averting the French-speaking province's independence.

'We have obtained an interim, but unanimous agreement on the inherent right to self-government of the aboriginal peoples,' Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said after three days of talks. He said the native deal created no new land rights, a big concern in Quebec, where Cree Indian and Inuit Eskimo groups claim large tracts, but it will permit native groups to tax themselves and have direct control over all matters affecting themselves.

Most native leaders welcomed the move, but Mohawk Indians, who clashed with Quebec authorities over land claims in 1990, rejected the agreement.