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PM gives Rs 24,000 crore to J&K

Last updated on: November 17, 2004 18:56 IST

On his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir after becoming prime minister, Manmohan Singh on Wednesday announced a grant of Rs 24,000 crore for the state.

The Centre will provide all help to ensure that a new Kashmir comes into being and fresh job opportunities are created for the unemployed youths, he said at a rally at the Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium in Srinagar.

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He observed that the dialogue process with Pakistan is continuing. "If conditions improve, infiltration is brought under control, then I can seek more reduction of troops in the state."

The troops in J&K, working under difficult conditions, are there for the security of the people, he said.

The PM also reminded the Kashmiris that the Congress has had close ties with J&K from the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. "Kashmir has a special place in our hearts."

He said Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has visited the state several times, has sent a message that the Centre would work hand in hand with the state government for J&K's development.

The PM said the government would make all efforts to ensure that the people got easier access across the Line of Control to meet their relative and friends.

Observing that India has already offered a hand of friendship to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Singh said that New Delhi is willing to take concrete steps to resolve all outstanding issues with Islamabad.

He also said that the Centre is prepared to hold talks with any group to usher in peace.

The government, he said, has no conditions but those wanting to hold talks should have in mind restoration of peace. "My doors are always open and there is place in my heart for everyone. Those wanting to come to the negotiating table should have good intensions."

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