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Mufti hails Indian, Pak peace initiatives

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | May 03, 2003 21:43 IST

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has hailed the peace initiatives taken by India and Pakistan following the hand of friendship extended by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Islamabad as a vindication of his stand that dialogue is the only way to solve problems.

"Whatever is happening is our vindication," the chief minister told reporters in Srinagar. "My stand has proved correct that dialogue is the only answer and the healing touch philosophy the only strategy to address the Kashmir problem."

The chief minister said Vajpayee's offer of friendship to Pakistan from the soil of Jammu and Kashmir was a historic one, since the state has been a bone of contention between the two countries.

He welcomed Pakistan's positive response to the prime minister's offer and said, "Confidence-building measures are being taken to take the process further."

Asked if he favours the inclusion of the separatist All-Parties Hurriyat Conference in the dialogue, he said, "The talks will be held between the two countries."

Stressing the need to improve relations between India and Pakistan, he said the greatest beneficiary of peace will be the state of Jammu and Kashmir and its people.

When his attention was drawn to a recent statement of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah that the present government will not last long, Sayeed said, "As long as I have the confidence of the people, nothing else matters."

Earlier, addressing a special function at Kashmir University, he said, "A historic opportunity has been created with the prime minister's bold initiative and it is necessary that the two countries build on it.

"The mood is fast catching up with the international community about the urgency of peace in Jammu and Kashmir following a lot of bloodshed in the state over the years."

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Read about: The Road to Peace | Kargil Crisis

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