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August 10, 2000
PM willing to resume talks with militants
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee late Wednesday night reiterated his government's resolve to resume talks with militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir to usher in durable peace in the valley.
He said his government would not be distracted by Pakistan's diversionary tactics.
"The prime minister expressed his determination to resume the peace talks with those who were willing to eschew the path of violence. But simultaneously, he emphasised that our security forces were ready to meet any challenge from the militants," said a senior official referring to Wednesday's meeting.
The meeting was chaired by Vajpayee and Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes were in attendance.
The official said intelligence reports suggested that soon after the Hizb announced the withdrawal of cease-fire, about 60 foreign mercenaries, owing allegiance to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and assorted outfits were ready to fan out in the valley.
"The Union home minister has already explained in Parliament why Pakistan scuttled the peace talks. The international community has watched how Islamabad not only has a stranglehold on the Hizb leaders, but has also praised the Hurriyat for toeing its line," said an official of the Ministry of External Affairs attached to the Pakistan desk.
The official said he did not think the proposed meeting between Prime Minister Vajpayee and General Pervez Mushrraf in the US would yield anything positive as far as the Kashmir imbroglio is concerned.
"If Pakistan can sabotage the peace initiative here, what good can come out of a meeting between the prime minister and the general," the official asked.
He, however, said he would not like to speculate on the meeting between the two because "India is always open to a reasonable solution to the Kashmir issue."
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