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August 7, 2000
Hizb's mediator says talks can go on without him
Onkar Singh in Srinagar
The mediator between the Government of India and the Hizbul Mujahideen, Fazal Haq Qureshi, has denied that he has withdrawn from the talks. However, he confirmed that the scheduled negotiations between the Hizbul commanders and the government team led by special secretary home Mukund Bihari Kaushal would take place only after August 8.
"I have not withdrawn from the talks. I was given a limited role of introducing the Hizbul commanders to the government representatives and that purpose has been achieved. Now the two sides are in direct contact with each other and holding talks directly," Qureshi told rediff.com this morning in Srinagar.
Asked if the commanders were satisfied with their first round talks with the government representatives, Qureshi said the four commanders who participated in the discussions were more than pleased with the government response and they were planning to come back to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
"Because of certain developments they had to go back to their respective command areas to sort out some ticklish problems. They have since then come back to their residences and they are in touch with the Indian authorities. For the time I am keeping out of it till such a time that I get a directive from Hizbul commander (Syed) Salahudin," Qureshi clarified.
He also made it clear that the white Maruti car in which the Hizbul commanders were ferried from their hideouts to the place of talks belonged to him. "This vehicle belongs to me and since they had to be brought for talks some mode of transport was needed to transport them from one place to another. So I decided to use my own vehicle for this purpose. I know there have been speculation about the vehicle that was used for transporting the Hizbul commanders. I hope my answer would satisfy the curiosity of some section of the media," he said.
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