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Hurriyat to send 6-member team for talks with PM

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: September 01, 2005 17:24 IST
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The moderate faction of Hurriyat on Thursday decided to send a six-member delegation led by its chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to pursue with "seriousness" the dialogue to find a "lasting and durable" solution to the Kashmir problem.

"It was unanimously decided to accept the invitation for talks by the prime minister, with a view to proceed with seriousness, imagination and courage to find an acceptable and durable solution to issue of Jammu and Kashmir in the larger interests of the people of the region," spokesman Abdul Majid Banday read from a prepared statement after a joint meeting of the executive committee, general council and working committee of the amalgam.

Mirwaiz would lead the Hurriyat delegation and had been authorised to nominate other members later, he said.

Highly placed sources said a six-member team would be flying to Delhi on September 4 for the talks. Besides the four executive committee members -- Mirwaiz, Bilal Gani Lone, Abdul Gani Bhat, Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari -- Aga Syed Hassan and Fazl Haq Qureshi are likely to be included in the delegation to be announced on Friday, they said.

The September 5 meeting of the separatists with the prime minister would be its first with the United Progressive Alliance government and would be held nine days ahead of Dr Singh's scheduled meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in New York.

The amalgam had held two rounds of talks with then deputy prime minister Lal Kishenchand Advani in January and March in 2004 during the National Democratic Alliance regime.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed welcomed the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's invitation to All Parties Hurriyat Conference for talks, saying it "highlights the seriousness with which the government of India is addressing the Jammu and Kashmir problem."

Heading for the meeting, former Hurriyat chairman Maulana Abbas Ansari said, "The Centre has realised that a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue cannot be found without the inclusion of people of Jammu and Kashmir in the dialogue process."

Ansari said it was a long-standing desire of Hurriyat to meet both Indian and Pakistani leadership and the "Amalgam was happy to note that realisation had dawned upon India to push the peace process forward."

Tight security arrangements have been made for the meeting, including anti-sabotage checks and deployment of mine detectors.

Earlier accepting the prime minister's invitation 'in principle', Mirwaiz said, "It was our demand that the talks should be held at the highest level. So we have agreed to meet the prime minister on the scheduled date."

Describing the invitation as a welcome step, he said, "We believe that the Kashmir issue needs a political settlement, a peaceful settlement in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We have always maintained that we want to have serious discussions and debate on Kashmir."

With PTI inputs

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
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