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PMís olive branch to separatists
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, October 10
In an effort to resolve the prevailing stalemate in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today sent out an open invitation to all separatist elements in the state to come forward for talks, giving an assurance that all matters could be worked out through dialogue.

Taking a break from a prolonged all party meeting here at the Shere Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), the Prime Minister also sent out clear signals that elections in the state could be held in the near future. While appealing to all people to participate in the election process, the Prime Minister pointed out that elections were a process to test the popularity of any party and that the government was committed to free and fair polls in the state.

The elections in the valley were due in November with the tenure of the democratically elected government coming to an end on November 20. However, the violence in wake of the transfer of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board led to the imposition to the Governorís rule in the state.

The Prime Minister appealed that the people should take advantage of this opportunity of ballot rather than take to guns.

The all-party meeting continued till late in the night and was still underway at the time of filing of this report. The Prime Minister sought to dispel all fears of the local political parties at the meeting which was boycotted by the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC).

He appealed to the people of the state to overcome their regional tensions and bring back normalcy in both the regions.

Flanked by state Governor N.N. Vohra, national security adviser M.K. Narayanan and minister of state in the PMO Prithviraj Chauhan, the Prime Minister ruled out any tripartite talks on Kashmir, but hoped that if India and Pakistan talk with an open heart on various issues, the situation could be solved.

Rather than jumping to tripartite talks, first let us explore the bilateral option, he said.

As the protests all over the valley marred the Prime Ministerís visit, he was hopeful that India and Pakistan would in the future develop a set of relations where old thinking would have no place and borders would become irrelevant.

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