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July 26, 2000
Mishra cautious on Hizbul's cease-fire offer
India's chief security advisor Brajesh Mishra has said New Delhi would not rush to judgement on the sincerity of a cease-fire offer by a powerful Muslim group in Kashmir.
Mishra was speaking in Washington, where he is finalising the details of a visit by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in September.
He said he was "cautious" on the offer of a three-month cease-fire made by the Hizbul Mujahideen on Monday.
"We are just going to look at it, to see what is happening," he told reporters. "We will take our time looking at it."
Hizbul Mujahideen chief commander Abdul Majid Dar had told a hurriedly arranged press conference outside Srinagar on Monday that his group was ready for talks with New Delhi.
"We want to show the world that we are not hardliners and we are flexible in the search for a solution," he said, adding that the cease-fire would initially run for three months.
He also called on Indian security forces to respond in kind.
In New Delhi Tuesday, a spokesman for Vajpayee welcomed the Hizbul move, but stressed talks could only take place in line with the Indian Constitution.
Hizbul Mujahideen, created in 1990 as the military wing of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, is considered the most powerful of the militant groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir.
Divided Kashmir has poisoned relations between Pakistan and India for years, and has triggered two wars between the two neighbours since independence from Britain in 1947.
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