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August 3, 2000
Vajpayee invites other militants to join talks
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Rulingout tripartite talks, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday renewed his offer for talks with all militant groups in Kashmir to restore peace.
"Every group must come forward, like the Hizbul Mujaheedin, and condemn the worst killing of innocents in the state recently," he told a press conference in Srinagar.
He led an all-party parliamentary delegation to Pahalgam following the massacre of nearly 100 persons.
The delegation included Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former defence minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Somnath Chatterjee, Union Defence Minister George Fernandes and Minister for Railways Mamata Banerjee.
The prime minister appreciated Hizbul's unconditional cease-fire and added, "We would like all other groups to come out clearly and speak in clear terms".
''If they did not express their views frankly now and with sincerity on these killings, it will be difficult to explore roads to peace in Kashmir.''
He ruled out a judicial probe and said, "The matter will be looked into at the executive level. There is no room for a judicial probe."
He said the delegation had come to "express the nation's solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir".
"After visiting Pahalgam and seeing things ourselves, the all-party delegation feels undoubtedly that militants have executed this carnage with full preparation. It appears they had prepared a conspiracy to kill many people," he said, but denied that the security forces had retaliated, which led to many deaths.
Ruling out tripartite talks on Kashmir, he said, "India has made it clear umpteen times that issues can be resolved bilaterally without third party mediation if both sides are determined and sincere."
He said the Shimla agreement was the "result of bilateralism'' and there was no "third party to bring about this agreement".
The prime minister asked Pakistan chief executive General Pervez Musharraf to "create a congenial atmosphere for talks".
However, he ruled out the involvement of Pakistan in government-Hizbul talks.
"We cannot talk to Pakistan, which is aiding militants in Kashmir".
He made it clear that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and its people are "our brethren'' and said, "We will talk to them only".
The prime minister said Musharraf's silence on Tuesday's massacres has strengthened the "belief that Pakistan was behind these carnages at several places in the state".
Pakistan, the prime minister said, "must express its views on recent killings" and added that "killings and dialogue with Pakistan cannot go together".
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