Tuesday, October 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Kashmir panel meets US official
To hold talks with ‘certain elements in Pak’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
The Kashmir Committee, headed by former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani, today decided to hold talks with “certain elements” in Pakistan after holding wide-ranging parleys with visiting senior US official Richard Haas and Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Bhat on efforts to find an amicable solution to the decade-old militancy problem in the state.

“We will wait till a person gets sworn in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan and then initiate steps to hold formal talks with certain elements there who are willing to join the process for finding a peaceful solution to the militancy problem,” Mr Jethmalani said.

This emerged after the committee, also comprising eminent editors Dileep Padgaonkar and M.J. Akbar, former diplomat V.K. Grover and convener of the committee Ashok Bhan, held talks with Mr Bhat and Mr Haas. “The committee has been in touch with these elements in Pakistan,” he said. Mr Jethmalani said the Pakistan National Human Rights Commission Chairman was expected to visit India soon and added the committee would hold talks with him.

On the talks with Mr Haas, he said, “We tried to find out how the US Government could help us in finding a solution to the problem and in turn assured them our help in their task.”

Meanwhile, the Hurriyat Conference today cautiously welcomed the announcement by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who will head the next government in Jammu and Kashmir, to release political prisoners, but maintained that the Kashmir problem could be resolved only through a trilateral dialogue involving India, Pakistan and the separatist conglomerate.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha today held wide-ranging talks with senior US official Richard Haas with special focus on the reported transfer of nuclear weapons technology by Pakistan to North Korea.

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