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Stage set for talks with Hurriyat today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 4
With both sides sending positive signals, the stage is set for crucial talks between a team of the All-Party Hurriyat conference (APHC) led by its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow.

While the government expressed hope that the talks would foster the restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir, the Mirwaiz emitted a positive signal on his arrival in the Capital, saying that the “Hurriyat wants to contribute its bit in improving relations between India and Pakistan”.

Ahead of talks with the Hurriyat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh apprised himself with the latest developments in the state in a 45 minute-long meeting with Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and the Centre’s pointsman N.N. Vohra.

The APHC chairman, who is leading a five-member team for talks, told newspersons on his arrival that “the talks are aimed at completing the cycle of Hurriyat’s concept of holding triangular parleys comprising India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir”.

He said in the past there had been several attempts to solve the Kashmir issue bilaterally but now “we want that Kashmiris be included in the talks.”

Asked about the agenda for tomorrow’s talks, the Mirwaiz said, “the agenda will be to complete the political process of finding some space for Kashmiris in the talks for resolution of the issue.”

Brokered by Congress leader Saif-ud-Din Soz, the talks come barely nine days ahead of the Prime Minister’s meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in New York. “Tomorrow’s talks are aimed at completing the cycle started by NDA govt last year. We want that the immediate effects of the talks are visible on the ground with improvement in security situation,” he said.

The Mirwaiz was accompanied by Abdul Gani Bhat and Fazal-ul-Haq Quereshi. While Bilal Lone, the other member of the team, has already arrived, Maulana Abbas Ansari would arrive here tomorrow.

Asked whether he would rake up the issue of Mohammed Afzal, condemned Jaish-e-Mohammed militant in the Parliament attack case, the Hurriyat Chairman said, “There are several Kashmiris languishing in the jail, which include some political prisoners also. We will take up the issue one by one”.

Interestingly, this time, there was no visible opposition from either the separatists leaders or the militants who did not issue any statement in this regard.

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