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Kashmir: 2nd-round talks in March

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | January 22, 2004 18:09 IST
Last Updated: January 22, 2004 22:15 IST

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference will continue its dialogue with New Delhi in search for a just and enduring solution to the Kashmir problem, APHC spokesman Abdul Gani Bhat said on Thursday.

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Bhat, who was part of a five-member team led by APHC chairman Maulavi Abbas Ansari which opened talks with Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani in New Delhi, described the meeting as "fair, free and amicable."

Bhat said the second-round talks would take place in March.

He said the deputy prime minister heard them patiently and quoted Advani as saying:  "Guns must give place to political voice in the Valley."

Bhat said the two sides agreed that all forms of violence must end and that there should be a step-by-step approach for the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Bhat said the government has agreed to conduct a rapid review of cases of political detenues in Jammu and Kashmir.

Ansari said the meeting with deputy prime minister must serve as an 'eye-opener' to the hardliners.

"We have been accused by the hardliners of making a sell-out of Kashmir cause. But now they will have to eat their
words," Ansari said.

In Srinagar, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed called the talks a 'breakthrough'. He said those who have joined the dialogue must be given a chance to move forward.

The Hurriyat team is likely to make a courtesy call on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday.


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