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All set for talks between Centre, Hurriyat

Onkar Singh in Delhi and agencies | January 22, 2004 10:20 IST

All was set for the first-ever talks between the Centre and the Hurriyat Conference on Thursday with the separatist amalgam adopting a two-pronged strategy, which includes a step-by-step approach for resolution of the vexed Kashmir issue.

While Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani will represent the Centre at the talks, Hurriyat chairman Moulvi Abbas Ansari will lead the amalgam's five-member delegation.

The other members are Abdul Gani Bhat, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Bilal Lone and Fazal-ul-Haq Qureshi.

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Union Home Secretary N Gopalaswami and Centre's interlocutor on Kashmir issue N N Vohra and special director, incharge of Jammu and Kashmir affairs, B B Misra, will assist Advani in the parleys with the separatist group.

Ceasefire with militant groups and release of political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir besides facilitating return of some expatriate Kashmiri leaders are some of the issues that are likely to figure in the talks.

The Hurriyat Conference has ignored threats from various militant groups to take part the talks.

"We will be adopting a two-pronged strategy -- discussing resolution-oriented steps for finding solution to the vexed Kashmir issue and bringing some relief to the people of the state," former chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said

The Hurriyat delegation would also advocate some measures, including ceasefire with militant groups, besides release of some political detainees languishing in jails without any case for deepening peace in the state.

The delegation would also stress for withdrawal of special powers given to the army for tackling militancy in the state.

The delegation is likely to emphasise on removing travel restrictions and steps in starting the Srinagar-Muzzafarabad bus service.

Home ministry officials had worked till late last night to give final touches to the preparations.

On Wednesday Hurriyat leaders, who are staying in different places in the capital due to security reasons, had a day-long discussion among themselves to formalise their action plan.

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Read about: The Road to Peace | Kargil Crisis

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