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Advani calls Hurriyat for talks on Jan 22

Onkar Singh in New Delhi and Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | January 13, 2004 16:23 IST
Last Updated: January 14, 2004 02:03 IST

The Union government on Tuesday sent an  invitation to the All Parties Hurriyat Conference led by Maulana Abbas Ansari for talks with Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani on January 22.

"Pursuant to the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security on October 22, the Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani would like to meet you on January 22," the invitation said.

Speaking to in Srinagar, Hurriyat chief Maulana Abbas Ansari confirmed receiving the invitation. "A special emissary delivered the letter," he said.

Indicating that the date is acceptable to the APHC, Ansari said: "We will be going to Delhi."

He said the APHC executive council will meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.

Minister of State for Home I D Swami said: "The Hurriyat leaders had expressed their willingness to meet deputy prime minister Advaniji but were demanding a written invitation. The same has been sent to them."

Sources in the Union Home Ministry said the meeting will take place at 1500 IST in the ministry's conference hall.

"There is no agenda for the meeting. Advaniji will hear the Hurriyat leaders. The next course of action would depend upon the nature of talks that take place in the first round," Swami said.

Former APHC chairman, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, said:  "We expect a delegation of five to six leaders of the APHC to go to New Delhi to hold talks. This is a good beginning. The atmosphere is conducive enough for talks. SAARC summit in Pakistan was held in a cordial atmosphere. Then Prime Minister Vajpayee had talks with Pervez Musharraf on Kashmir.

"On Thursday we would hold a joint meeting of the executive of the Hurriyat Conference, its general body and executive council at the Hurriyat headquarters to discuss the invitation from the government of India."

"The deputy prime minister will like to meet the Hurriyat leaders on January 22," the letter signed by the special secretary home read.

Mirwaiz Omar Farooq said the general council and the working committee of the APHC would meet on Thursday. "It will finalise the modalities and the composition of the delegation that will visit Delhi to meet the Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani," he said.

But he said that four executive members and one general council member would be lead by chairman Abbas Ansari.

"We are ready for talks, but the talks should be Kashmir centric," the Mirwaiz said. "Ideally we would like tripartite talks to solve the issue involving, India, Pakistan and Kashmiris. But since India is not ready we have decided to hold triangular dialogue. We will first talk to New Delhi and later visit Islamabad to talk to Government of Pakistan. We will also like to meet the militant leaders in Muzaffarabad."

The Mirwaiz, however, stressed a 'flexible approach' to address the issue. "All parties should have a flexible approach and key is initiation of dialogue process. The solution will follow. Focus has to be on process initially and not the solution."

"We have a roadmap, which we will present to both governments for Kashmir resolution," he said.

He said the recently concluded SAARC summit in Islamabad has led to thaw in relation between the two countries and an atmosphere has been created to start the talks.

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